What We Should Learn from Gabrielle Giffords


On January 8, 2011, U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was allegedly shot by Jason Lee Loughner. Six people were killed, and Congresswoman Giffords was critically injured. If not for the actions of a civilian witness who overpowered the attacker while he stopped to reload, she would likely have been killed.

Like most politicians, Giffords is an open person who wants to have contact with her constituents. That openness is one reason she was elected. The conflict between a public figure’s need to be accessible and the need for security is never-ending.

Sunstates Security President Glenn Burrell believes this tragedy could have been averted with a few precautions:

  • Contact local law enforcement. Giffords had not informed local law enforcement of her event. The event was a publicized “open house” event, but no security planning had taken place.
  • Make security arrangements anytime an event is publicized in advance. When a prominent politician eschews basic security precautions, it can affect the security of the whole country.
  • Develop a threat analysis that includes a close security detail. One effective way to manage threats is to have a security service in place or on retainer so that the public figures do not have to worry about security. Experienced professionals worry—and take precautions—for them. This help might take the form of a “security advisor” whose help is pre-arranged or preventive.
  • Register events like this with a government agency–such as the Secret Service or U.S. Marshals—that would provide logistical and personnel support for the public figure’s protection. When there is a public meeting or similar event, trained personnel would be assigned as a security detail.
  • Increase the “sterile area” around public figures to reduce the chance that potential assailants will get close enough to act, and fill that area with people who can act quickly if an attack occurs.

A number of clients keep Sunstates Security on retainer. Sunstates keeps abreast of what clients are doing and looks for potential threats as they arise. We use a variety of technological tools and techniques to monitor Internet chatter, and we bring early warnings to our clients. This approach is proactive, effective, and will grow in popularity as that effectiveness becomes apparent.

Contact Sunstates Security today for answers to your questions about best security practices and retainer services.

About Sunstates Security
Headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., Sunstates Security is an industry leader with a proactive approach to offering superior customer service and custom-designed protection for its clients. Sunstates Security operates throughout the United States and employs world-class security professionals. Well known for its on-site accountability and proven track record of exceptional client service, Sunstates Security continually exceeds industry standards and enjoys one of the highest client retention rates in the industry.