In her Editor’s Note published in the January/February 2020 Campus Safety magazine, Robin Hattersley reminds us all of the power of seeking professional advice when lives are at stake. Would you go to a pharmaceutical company to advise you about health concerns that you have? Would you invest in health equipment based on a good sales pitch? Why should effective security be any different?
Security concerns are a multibillion dollar industry. Too often decisions are based on the efforts of well-intentioned people to solve a problem that they don’t really understand. Consequently, decisions are made quickly and without the inclusion of subject matter experts. These experts have valuable perspectives that support best outcomes and fiscal responsibility. I am reminded of the saying: Spend in haste, repent at leisure. It is heartbreaking to see this played out over and over in our schools systems, institutions, and businesses.
Instead of looking at the big picture, it is easier to just do something. It assuages our anxiety. We will do anything to solve a problem. Suddenly organizations are spending money on something that doesn’t protect anyone. In the case of the door barricade devices, these “solutions” may be a threat to the very population that was at risk in the first place.
So what do we suggest?
- Heed the warnings that professional publications are making available to you before you make the next security decision. Do your research.
- Recognize that security is not safety. Security events are deliberate acts by people to cause harm or destruction; they are not accidental. Work with experts who can look at your risks from a holistic integrated perspective. A security consultant who is vendor agnostic will pay for themselves by developing the appropriate response to the protection of your critical assets based on your situation. There is no “cookie cutter” solution to everyone’s problem.
- Communicate that effective security programs engage all of your constituents and require on-going training and awareness. To be effective security decisions require input from internal resources such as IT, safety, HR, legal, executive and others as well as customers and general employees. Your security consultant should be a convener of conversations and a cheerleader for your program at every level.
Finally, before any school, institution or business spends precious resources on security, begin with a security assessment. This process will help create a road map that begins with an identification of assets, threats, and the current security program in place. Only then does any organization know where their gaps are and can make the appropriate decisions on how they will protect our children, employees, innovation, and communities.