“Capitol Police are responding to reports of suspicious packages in the Hart and Russell Senate office buildings and a bomb squad is on the scene. The buildings have not been evacuated, but certain areas of the buildings have been closed.” – Politico, April 17, 2013
The recent terror attack at the Boston Marathon is a stark reminder that the threat to the homeland remains ever-present. While the investigation is in its initial stages and the reason for the attack and number of perpetrators remains unclear, it is clear that businesses and security professionals need to remain vigilant.
Proper training and awareness of company emergency protocols, continuity of operations programs, and corporate security efforts are coming to the forefront of the minds of CSOs and other executives who are tasked with ensuring proper safeguards are implemented.
Part of this equation is ensuring that all employees, from the C-level Executive all the way down to maintenance staff, are reminded to stay alert and report suspicious activity and anything outside the norm to the proper channels.
Elsa Lee, a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent and terrorism expert explains, “Following a security incident, especially the recent tragic terrorist attacks in Boston, it is important that all corporate security officers recognize that their people and company team members are vital assets and partners in maintaining vigilance and security awareness. People are the first line of defense and serve as a critical protective component as well as a reporting mechanism for enhanced situational awareness.”
Underscoring Lee’s observations about individuals being vitally important eyes and ears, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has asked the public for assistance in the ongoing Boston bombing investigation. In an online post the FBI stated, “If you have visual images, video, and/or details regarding the explosions along the Boston Marathon route and elsewhere, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. No piece of information or detail is too small.”
While the FBI’s request for information is a reactive tactic, preventative reporting plays a key role in thwarting attacks and disrupting precursor planning for such attacks. Lee, who is also the CEO and founder of Advantage SCI, LLC, a prime defense contractor and a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned and Woman-Owned Small Business, recommends that CSOs and other security personnel encourage employees to stay alert and report suspicious activity.
Specifically, Lee proposes four main points that should be emphasized during this heightened period of security.
- CSOs and corporate security personnel need to formulate aggressive proactive strategies and strong security programs that are well documented, well rehearsed and well coordinated across all sectors — the first responder community, businesses and the public.
- CSOs and corporate security personnel need to remind employees that they must be aware of their surroundings and of suspicious people. In recent years, observant citizens have reported suspicious individuals covertly photographing metro railways and trains, as well as other soft targets, in major cities across the nation — from Los Angeles to New York. The perceptive employees and average citizens who report such instances become a vital element, serving as an early warning net, particularly during periods of heightened alert.
- Collaboration and cooperation remains key. Everyone needs to work together. Employees need to be sharply attuned to what is happening around them. If they see, feel, or know that something is out of place, out of the norm, or simply strange in that moment of time, they need to act on it.
- Suspicious activity should be reported immediately. Terrorist attacks require planning and preparing before they are carried out. It will be difficult to detect and thwart terrorist activities on the day of the attack. If terrorist activities are not discovered in the prepping stages, the best you can hope for is that someone will detect a package or backpack left unattended or placed at the target location on the day of the attack, when civilians are already in danger.
About the author:
Timothy W. Coleman is a security analyst who has co-founded two technology startup firms. He has a Masters of Public and International Affairs in Security and Intelligence Studies and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance.