New facts of life: Protecting soft and hard targets

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With recent domestic terrorist and mass killings in the U.S., news media has interviewed countless security and law enforcement professionals seeking best practices and methods to prevent and mitigate threats.

Unfortunately, most suggestions miss the mark of providing the best possible or holistic approach for protecting facilities and their assets, people being the most important of these assets.

Two recommendations often suggested are active shooter training and threat assessments, with several states now utilizing threat assessments for schools.

Although both of these recommendations are excellent practices, each provides only a piece of what is needed to ensure adequate protection.

Another historical strategy is the use of a security checklist or survey.

As with other security strategies, each strategy is better than taking no action; however, too often we rely on a few solutions rather than conducting a comprehensive assessment of protection efforts, which can result in a negative outcome.

More than ever before, facilities continue to require a holistic approach to assessing threats and vulnerabilities and selecting cost-effective security strategies to mitigate risk.

The security risk assessment process has been in place for many years; unfortunately, it is often not utilized to its fullest extent.

This methodology allows security professionals to identify and prioritize critical assets requiring protection, assess threats and vulnerabilities and assign cost effective security strategies to ensure adequate protection.

The process conducts a thorough evaluation of the existing physical protection system, which includes well-trained personnel, equipment, technology, and policies and procedures to ensure all are working cohesively and remain effective in protecting facilities.

The security risk assessment process continues to be a must. Security professionals, law enforcement and facility managers need to become familiar with this comprehensive process and begin immediate implementation, with an annual review occurring to ensure security strategies remain effective since threats are never static.

Since I do not have sufficient space in this article to share this comprehensive process, I recommend an easy-to-read book, "The Art and Science of Security Risk Assessment" by Ira S. Somerson, CPP.

Additional information regarding security strategies can be found at acesecurityconsultants.com. One strategy worth reviewing while visiting his site is an article titled "Terrorist Surveillance Detection for Soft Targets," found under the Terrorism tab on the home page. There is also a brief article on the security risk assessment process.

Jim McGuffey, M.A., CPP, PSP, PCI of Bluffton is one of 200 security professionals worldwide to hold all three ASIS International Board Certifications in Security, which are accredited by the Department of Homeland Security, American National Standards Act and International Standards Organization. His background consists of military, law enforcement and private security management.

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