Ready, Aim, Fire (Risk Mitigation During Terminations)
Called into a termination meeting, an Illinois man pulled out a handgun, fatally shot five co-workers and wounded five police officers. In Orlando, a fired employee returned later and fatally shot five employees before killing himself. A Los Angeles man, fired from his job at an auto parts store, shot and killed six co-workers before dying in a gun battle with police.
Terminations are almost always emotional. The key is to keep them from turning deadly.
Risk mitigation prepares for the “what-ifs.” What if the employee argues and threatens? What if the employee turns violent? What if the employee has a weapon?
Most human resources professionals are caring individuals. They’re not thinking about safety and security, but about treating the terminated employee humanely while following company policies and government regulations. But safety and security should always be a prime consideration when terminating an employee.
Best Practices During Termination
- Place an experienced manager in charge of the termination, and brief everyone involved beforehand about the process.
- Always have a witness to the event. In an ideal situation, assign two people—at least one of the same gender as the employee—to help defuse any potential issues. The best-case scenario also includes video surveillance in real time.
- Position HR personnel so they always have an accessible escape route; they should never have their backs to the wall or otherwise be in a position where they can be cornered or blocked from leaving.
- Post security personnel nearby, and provide HR employees with a way to quickly call for help, such as a code word or another discreet communication method.
- Escort terminated employees off the premises immediately, preferably not back to their desks or work stations. Instead, HR personnel should box the employee’s personal belongings.
- Use a third-party carrier to return equipment, so the terminated employee has no legitimate need to come back to the workplace.
HR personnel should be briefed on how to calm upset individuals. One common, and effective, technique positions the termination package as a carrot by making it contingent on employee compliance with the company process.
Employees should also be trained to look for red flags, even before considering termination. If any exist, security personnel should be placed on alert for an extended period. Terminated employees have returned to their former workplaces with a weapon weeks, months or even years later. Security personnel should receive as much intelligence regarding the terminated employee as possible, including a recent photograph, what vehicle(s) he/she drives, and what to do if the individual is seen in the area.
Terminating employees is a fact of life. Mitigating the risks when that becomes necessary protects everyone.
For information on how Sunstates Security can support your human resources department and other employees before, during and after terminations, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.
Replacing Security Personnel with Technology? Not So Fast
Boots on the ground. Eyes in the sky.
As cameras, access controls and other security technology become more and more sophisticated, some companies wonder whether technology can replace personnel.
“We’ll upgrade our cameras, add a few to make sure the entire building is covered, then cut back on security personnel,” the thinking goes. “The payroll savings will pay for the additional technology in two years.”
But technology has its limits, and security vs. cost savings isn’t always a good trade-off.
What Technology Does Well
Cameras and security systems are getting smarter and more analytical. Backed by a command center with highly trained, skilled personnel (often former military), some aspects of security can now be accomplished with fewer people.
Well-trained experts can analyze camera feeds and other information and produce results quickly. Review the last 72 hours of parking lot activity to spot a suspicious vehicle? Note patterns that suggest employee theft or supply chain disruptions? Those are things that technology, backed by experts, does well in ways that human beings alone cannot. (Would several security officers, each working a different shift, be likely to collaborate and deduce that the same red Chevrolet has circled the parking lot several times but never parked? Not likely.)
The Downsides of Technology
Cameras, recorders and other security technology alone won’t spot suspicious patterns or activity. That analysis requires human intervention by highly skilled professionals. Former military personnel are good choices because they tend to have both the technical skills and the discipline. But training, especially training specific to a certain site or campus, takes time, and a good command center is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.
There are two things that technology alone doesn’t do as well as security personnel.
- Emergency response. Response time is critical, and the greater the threat or emergency, the more important that becomes. If the closest personnel are several buildings away on a large campus, critical minutes will be lost.
- Public relations. Employees, clients and visitors feel safer and more reassured when they see professional security personnel. Reduce the number of officers, and employees often feel less safe. For visitors, first impressions are critical: polite, service-oriented security officers make an important statement about your facility.
Security technology can extend and enhance the security of any facility, whether it’s as simple as electronic locks that require key cards or a sophisticated network of cameras, motion detectors and a command center.
But technology alone, or security personnel alone, can’t provide as much protection and threat mitigation as the two together.
About Sunstates Security Command Centers
Sunstates Security manages command centers for clients across the country, ranging from single-campus systems to global operations. With thousands of hours of experience, Sunstates can provide an in-depth analysis of facilities and security operations to seamlessly integrate technology and personnel.
The following tips are often overlooked when establishing a command center:
- Provide redundant hardware and systems (including power) to mitigate downtime from equipment failure.
- Location is critical; choose a central, secure site separate from regular operations.
- Employ “clean sheet” technology designed around the organization’s unique needs, and avoid proprietary hardware and software for greater flexibility.
- Staff centers with highly trained, competitively compensated personnel to manage data and identify potential hazards before they become incidents.
For information on how Sunstates Security can use technology and personnel to provide greater security, or for an evaluation of your existing security systems and strategies, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.