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Safeguarding your staff.

WE SECURITY PROFESSIONALS are faced with a broad spectrum of issues, such as providing physical security, protecting classified and proprietary information, preventing theft, and addressing vulnerability to terrorism. Each of these issues affects us differently, depending on our location and our business.

One threat transcends these variables and affects us all; regardless of who we are--manager, supervisor, or line employee. That threat is the threat to personal security. Traditionally, security managers have viewed personal security as each individual's responsibility. Thus, it is one of the most overlooked aspects of our security programs. But since the events that compromise an employee's personal security have a direct and measurable impact on an organization's

ability to accomplish its mission, we should consider safeguarding each employee as one of our direct responsibilities.

Today, we face an increasing threat to our personal security as violent crime grows at an alarming rate. No longer a strictly localized phenomenon, the threat exists in our neighborhoods, around the workplace, and where we travel.

Crime statistics show only the direct victims of reported crimes. Far More costly are the indirect results of crime: time away from work, lost production, and disruption of family and business life, not to mention possible permanent physical injury and psychological trauma.

No one can be efficient or perform at his or her maximum potential when he or she lives in fear of being mugged, robbed, or raped, or of having family members exposed to these threats. Productivity, efficiency, and mission effectiveness can be substantially increased by educating employees in the principles of personal security.

An effective personal security program educates employees to be less vulnerable to violent criminal exploitation. It frees them of anxiety concerning their own and their family's security and enables them to concentrate on performing their duties.

Traditional personal security measures, while offering some relief, have failed to offset the increasingly violent nature of crime today. One of the most common responses to employee security concerns is to dispense security checklists that outline some do's and don'ts.

A checklist prescription is only an administrative Band-Aid. Checklists don't explain how we unconsciously make ourselves attractive targets for crime, what to do when we recognize a potential threat, or how to respond if we are confronted by a criminal.

Perhaps the greatest limitation of the checklist approach is that it relies on memorization of specifics. Memorizing a list of specifics is not an effective substitute for the dynamic process of analysis and decision making.

The ineffectiveness of this traditional approach has been compounded by individual psychological inability to appreciate the dynamics of physical confrontation. At one extreme is the , It can't happen to me" syndrome of blissful ignorance; at the other extreme is the "Excalibur" syndrome, which confuses personal security with having a weapon, such as a can of mace, a belt-buckle knife, or a stun gun. From an unrealistically optimistic attitude at one extreme to an overreliance on equipment at the other, few of us are practically prepared to deal with personal security threats.

Individuals who have a paranoid preoccupation with the potential threat to their security may be inefficient at work. Others who are totally unaware or unwilling to accept that a threat exists may be setting themselves up for serious physical or psychological injury -with consequent time off work.

THE RELATIVELY SMALL INVESTMENT-primarily of time-required to train employees in the fundamentals of personal security pays substantial dividends and will continue to do so as long as training remains relevant, focused, and realistic.

Maintaining personal security requires an active and dynamic process of analysis and decision making. it is composed of two elements: avoidance and response. Avoidance comprises all those actions that keep us from being victimized. It accounts for approximately 95 percent of our security.

Response is what we do once we realize we are being victimized and accounts for the remaining 5 percent. Avoidance and response are complementary, not contradictory.

One can't rely totally on avoidance because sooner or later some form of response will be necessary. Unlike TV shows and movies, where the good guys always respond by fighting or shooting, we avoid an overreliance on force since the bad guys usually have more of it and are less restrained about using it.

The following four basic principles can be used as a framework for conducting personal security training. The principles are flexible and adaptable to any situation. Individuals who have made these principles a part of their life are more confident, less vulnerable, and better prepared to respond effectively to the unexpected.

Increase your awareness. Generally, you can increase your awareness by learning more about the nature and scope of the threats that exist in your area. Read the accounts of criminal activity in the newspaper, and learn from the experiences of others.

Security managers are often the best source of information regarding the nature and frequency of threats near their facility. Through their liaison with local police, they also serve a valuable rumor-control function to counter inaccurate accounts that spread like wildfire.

You can also increase your awareness by paying more attention to what is going on around you. Develop a dialogue with yourself as you go through the day. Analyze what you see, and determine if it might present a threat to you.

Take, for example, an episode I experienced with a friend. We had driven to a pizza parlor and as my friend started to get out of the car I said, "Wait a minute. What's wrong with this picture?" as I motioned toward the large front windows. No one was moving inside the pizza parlor except a man behind the counter. He was wearing an overcoat and had both hands in his pockets.

It looked too much like a robbery in progress, so I suggested we wait in the car. After a minute or so I saw the man in the overcoat remove one hand from his coat pocket and then the other. The employees behind the counter began to talk to him as he walked back and forth.

This short observation allowed me to conclude it wasn't a robbery, just an off-duty employee visiting with his friends. Being observant and analyzing what I saw took only one short minute out of my life, but that minute may have kept us from walking into the middle of an armed robbery. Police officers develop this street sense in their work; the rest of us need to be taught to recognize the unusual.

Lower your profile. How do criminals select their victims? Is it a totally arbitrary hit-or-miss system, or do they have selection criteria?

One study researched this issue by showing inmates at a state prison short video clips of several people walking along the street. The inmates, chosen for their mugging and robbery convictions, took only a few seconds to select potential victims from the many they were shown.

A victim profile emerged as all inmates identified the same people as muggable. In short, those chosen as potential victims failed to display a sense of self-confidence and coordination in their walk. Age and sex did not appear to be determining factors in this selection process.

Naturally, there is more to being selected as a potential victim than the way you walk. Displaying expensive jewelry, cash, or other valuable items is certain to attract the attention of criminal opportunists.

Our perceived wealth makes us a target for one class of criminal, while our apparent vulnerability makes us a target for another. For instance, women who jog in isolated areas or park in enclosed structures or on dark streets need to think about their profile as easy victims and consider how they can modify their routines to avoid this.

Take action to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Recognizing a potentially dangerous situation without taking action to avoid involvement is foolhardy. I have a friend who saved herself from being kidnapped off the streets of Bogota, Colombia, by taking immediate action to correct a situation she perceived as threatening.

She was alone, walking along a downtown sidewalk. She sensed someone was staring at her. She turned and saw a man uncomfortably close. He was looking toward her, but his eyes were focused beyond her. She followed his gaze, and, turning, saw another man closing in on her from across the street. He held one hand under his coat near his waistband.

Many people would dismiss this chain of events as paranoid delusions. Fortunately, she did not. Disregarding her professional and distinguished demeanor, she bolted through traffic, crossed the street, dove into a parked cab, and ordered the cab driver to get out of the area.

As the cab driver sped off he said, "Lady, I don't know what those men wanted, but they have guns." A glance back confirmed the two men were slipping guns back into their waistbands. They had apparently pulled their weapons when she bolted away from them.

Once we reach a level of increased awareness, we develop a fairly accurate idea of what looks and feels normal and what looks and feels abnormal. However, the majority of victims I have interviewed indicated that prior to the attack they felt something was wrong, but they ignored the feeling and continued the activity that led to their victimization. Why do we do this?

If you see a situation developing that makes you feel uncomfortable, you should take immediate corrective action to remove yourself from the perceived threat.

Respond properly if confronted. The appropriate response to a threat covers a broad spectrum-from passive compliance to disabling the attacker and escaping. No one can tell you in advance what you should do. You're the only one who can make that decision since every situation is unique and demands analysis and decision making. There are no pat answers or universal formulas.

While many hours can be devoted to developing effective response skills, nothing you own is worth your life. If your avoidance skills have failed to keep you out of the situation up to this point, your response skills should not be used to save your ego, only your life.

It is extremely difficult to think clearly in a crisis, especially if there is a lot of material to process. One valuable exercise that will prepare you for a crisis is to review hypothetical confrontation scenarios and consider possible response options in advance. This will prepare you mentally and will speed your decision making should a response become necessary.

While in a Central American town, a friend of mine was driving his pickup truck. He was totally lost in thought. He was mentally so far away that when two men burst into the truck-one through each door-he thought they came from nowhere. The one on the driver's side pushed him to the middle of the seat and drove off. The one on the passenger side shoved a .45 automatic into my friend's ribs.

My friend experienced a phenomenon known as brain lock. No matter how hard he forced himself to think, his mental screen remained blank. "Where are you taking me?" he finally asked his kidnappers.

"We don't want you, only your truck. Just sit still, and don't make trouble," one replied. The only picture my friend had on his mental screen at this point was of his body being discovered in the dump outside town.

"It's okay, you can have my truck, I'll just get out here. "

"No," responded one gunman. "You stay with us!"

Finally, frustrated with his own inability to save himself, my friend wondered, "What would James Bond do in this situation?" Immediately his mental screen flicked on, and he later described to me how he saw James Bond stomp on the brake with his left foot as his right elbow pinned the .45 automatic to the back of the seat.

The scene didn't work out exactly as planned, but my friend was still in the James Bond mode when he missed the .45 with his elbow and it went off, blowing a large hole through his right hand. Without missing a beat, he clasped the bloody hand over his heart, let out a sigh, and collapsed onto the gunman.

Playing dead worked. The gunmen fled, and my friend survived. It is fortunate this mental ploy was successful because he hadn't been trained in personal security and had no experience to draw on.

My friend is to be commended on the success of his plan, but wouldn't it have been better if he had been paying attention to what was going on around him and had kept his doors locked?

When used as a framework for conducting personal security training, the four principles mentioned earlier have proven to be extremely successful in increasing personal security and avoiding and thwarting attacks.

While I continually stress the need to think and make decisions over the compulsion to memorize, I have received numerous requests to develop an acronym to help people remember the four principles of personal security. My years in the military satisfied my entire life's need for acronyms, but if it will help advance the cause of personal security, just say APAR-pronounced A Par, as in golf. It stands for: awareness, profile, avoidance, response. * About the Author . . . Daniel C. Friend is a security consultant in Los Osos, CA, specializing in personal security training. He is also an adjunct faculty member of the California Specialized Training Institute, where he teaches in the officer safe and field tactics course. Friend retired from the CIA in 1988, where he was a senior personal security instructor. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:personal security
Author:Friend, Daniel C.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1990
Previous Article:Out of harm's way.
Next Article:Three dimensions of security education.

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