Workplace Violence Prevention News

Preventing Violence - What's Next

Monday, November 4, 2013

Preventing Violence  

Stop preparing for the last worst thing

by: Hector R. Alvarez

On November 1st,  Paul Ciancia walked into the Los Angeles Airport terminal, pulled a rifle from his duffel bag and starting shooting.   He fired dozens of rounds injuring several people and killing a TSA employee.  He started his shooting near the passenger security screening area and blasted his way into the terminal before police were able to incapacitate him.   The questions started almost immediately, “how did he make it past our security checkpoint.”   Police officials, airport managers and the general public started trying to figure out how to keep the same thing from happening again. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Airport has the luxury of being staffed and supported by world class security and emergency management professionals who are constantly trying to predict what could happen next and button- up any holes, they will get the job done.

Unfortunately, a lot of organizations in the private sector simply don’t have the same security mindset and often times fall into the trap of trying to prevent what has already happened while ignoring what could happen.   I have worked for organizations that operate exactly like this, I’m sure that you have too.   And to be honest, this mindset is completely understandable.  Most organizations simply are not focused on security, they exist to sell a product or deliver a service; security is merely something they have to do.   And it’s this mindset that leads to organizations bouncing from crisis to crisis, basically keeping their fingers crossed….or their heads in the sand.

What’s really unfortunate is that effective security doesn’t have to necessarily be burdensome on resources or finances, it just has to be focused and supported.   I can’t count the number of executives I’ve spoken to who say “…we fully support the safety and security of our employees.”   And that is the extent of their involvement.    Ask almost any security manager and s/he will tell you that they want to do more to protect their organization, but they are often stymied.   So what can we do?

I believe it starts with acknowledging that there are gaps of understanding between senior management and the security team.  Clearly the lion share of responsibility is on senior management to protect employees, but I believe the burden is on the security team to help them understand the problem.  One of the most effective tools to help accomplish this is multi-disciplinary teams.  In other words, get other people in your organization involved to understand the problems and support solutions.  By advocating for improved security horizontally vs. vertically in an organization it will be much easier for senior management to see the “bigger picture.”   Imaging how much weight it will carry with company executives if somebody other than just the security team starts bringing concerns forward.

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