For Your Safety - Today's Society of Perceived Security versus Real Security

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The more I travel around the United States speaking to various business groups about their safety and security, it's become very clear to me that there is a vast difference in organizational security plans.

It has also become clear to me that there are two types of security plans out there: Those designed to satisfy a "Perceived" threat or understanding of security, and those designed to address "Real" security threats.  Let's explore both.

First, it must be understood that you cannot create or implement any type of security plan, whether for your family, your office, or your community, until you have a complete understanding of the threats you are trying to protect yourself from. And to get this implemented, you must have a buy-in from the senior executive of the organization.

That lone individual (household or office), must understand and accept that there are certain threats that are real and can happen in that environment. For example, if you are in charge of a movie theater, you must accept the fact that, based on statistics, an active shooter situation may occur. And if you're a homeowner, you must accept that a home invasion may occur.

If the senior executive in any environment refuses to accept that there is a potential for concern, then the entire security planning process is dead in the water. For example, there are still municipal officials in the United States that will tell you, "we don't have a criminal street gang problem," when the statistics overwhelmingly indicate otherwise.

So back to the "Perceived vs Real" security concerns. As they say, a person's perception is their reality. Because of this, there are many times I see security plans being developed on what the planners perceive as their threats, while not being based on the reality of the environment around them. Security plans cannot be created in a bubble.

They must be created with all those persons and agencies who will be involved if an incident occurs - such as law enforcement, local area security, facility managers, etc.

How not to do it - Implementation of a Perceived Security Plan

When a security plan is put in a place that reflects an unrealistic approach, people and their organizations tend to implement security protocols that only offer the image of security, versus any realistic countermeasures.

For example, a receptionist desk that is located in a facility that has realistic security concerns from those entering the lobby, and is only protected by a sliding plexiglass window equipped with a thumb lock that has to be put into place in the event of an emergency, is a classic example of attempting to counter a security concern with an unrealistic countermeasure.

Reason being, if a sudden threat happens, that receptionist will be primarily concerned about their personal safety and will not have the time or the ability under extreme stress to close the window and secure the thumb lock. Furthermore, will a simple piece of plexiglass keep out a violent criminal?

Another example of an unrealistic countermeasure is having an unarmed security officer at a location where the threat is high for an active shooter situation.  One cannot have the expectation of an unarmed security officer to confront an armed assailant. Basing a security plan on perception only leaves those that you are responsible for, either family or co-workers, at great risk.

Implementing a Realistic Security Plan

Once you have collected all your facts, primarily through bringing in a professional to conduct what is called a security survey, which analyzes your risks, threats and concerns, then and only then, is it possible to construct a viable realistic security plan.

Once you have determined what your real threats may be, whether they are an active shooter (schools, churches, theaters, etc) or domestic violence/home invasions (residential, hotel, etc.) or robbery (convenience stores, retail locations), then you can begin to implement countermeasures for those known threats.

Keep in mind that the countermeasures you do put in place, must be adequate to counter specifically identified threats.  Finally, remember that the police are not there to provide you immediate protection (unless you have hired them off-duty to specifically watch your area).

That is your responsibility. American policing is designed to respond to calls for service, meaning after a crime has occurred or is in progress, you notify the police and they will respond to help.  Please note that the average police response time in a large city is 3 minutes.

In more rural areas, a sheriff's department may take up to 20 minutes to arrive at your location once you've contacted 911.  But even waiting for police for just 3 minutes can seem like an eternity during a potentially lethal confrontation.

The most important personal security plan you can put in place, is knowing what to do, how to do it, and equipping yourself with the proper devices, to protect yourself for those critical 3 minutes while you are waiting for the police to arrive.  You must base your safety and security on prior planning and not on luck, or the hopes that others will protect you, should you ever be confronted with a threat.