Post-Riot Security: Tactics and Considerations
One thing Americans have learned in the past year is that a riot can happen anywhere at any time, sometimes with little warning.
But even if incidents can’t be predicted, any organization can take proactive steps to prepare for potential violence. Whether protecting an office building, an industrial complex, or a corporate or educational campus, the following best practices can prepare your facility to meet most challenges.
Review Security Risks—and Plan Accordingly
A security review can be as simple as a walk-through or as complex as an in-depth assessment. Either way, the goal is to identify areas of vulnerability, such as:
- Places where potential intruders can approach the facility or hide undetected
- Spots where rioters might hide rocks, bricks or weapons
- Potential access points not monitored by security personnel or cameras
Every facility should have its own Standard Operating Procedures Manual (SOPM) that covers every possible scenario, so that security personnel and employees understand exactly what to do in any foreseeable situation. If someone calls with a bomb threat, take this action. If an unknown vehicle approaches the door, notify this person.
The SOPM should include rules of engagement for everything from individuals who call to express unhappiness with the organization to a mob that begins overrunning barriers. The key is to have strategies and rules for security personnel and staff to follow in any circumstance.
When rioters breached the U.S. Capitol, security personnel seemed to lack rules of engagement and de-escalation strategies. When rioters began jumping barricades and climbing walls, security personnel didn’t appear to have a plan, allowing the crowd to pour into the Capitol.
Security risks were everywhere. Scaffolding erected well in advance of the upcoming inauguration gave rioters an apparatus they could climb. A comprehensive SOMP would have included strategies to either guard that scaffolding or to prevent intruders from accessing it.
The SOPM should also outline appropriate rules of engagement by security personnel: what actions to be taken under specific circumstances. Not only does this remove decision-making from the hands of security personnel, but when interaction is necessary, it can also protect an organization from liability. The last thing an organization wants is for security personnel or staff to make up their own rules in a dangerous situation—to end up with inadequate or nonexistent security.
One recent case involved a fatal shooting in a Fort Worth, Texas, warehouse. Despite previous threats of workplace violence at the facility, the company had terminated the contract with its security firm and not yet hired another. An employee entered the facility with a loaded semi-automatic weapon and shot a co-worker and a manager. The manager died, and his family is suing the company for $25 million.
Establish Circles of Influence
Many facilities, even if they only have one point of entry and exit, have several circles of influence that call for different rules of engagement. The outermost circle, for example, might be the facility’s parking lot. A guard post might be the second circle, and the doors and windows of the building itself might be a third.
Each circle of influence should have its own rules of engagement. If an unknown vehicle enters the parking lot, here’s the response. If someone breaches the next circle, respond in this way. If someone breaks the windows, escalate to this response. Engagement should never start with deadly force.
If a rioting mob, for example, penetrates the outermost circles of influence without being engaged, the situation can quickly spiral out of control. Any organization should have different strategies of engagement for each circle.
One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make is to cut costs by only protecting the innermost circles. In the event of a riot or other violent incident, people can be hurt or killed, and an organization can face huge liability.
Post-Riot Security Services
To discuss proactive security steps your organization can take to obtain post-riot security, please call Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or fill out a contact form.