Surviving the Civil Unrest with Effective Security
At this point the chances are that if your business has not been adversely affected by the rioting and looting to-date, you may be in the clear for now. That does not mean that any future event may not ignite the violence again, and in turn may affect your business, it just means that in this time when things are calming down its time to review your security measures.
Business Security Measures
Many businesses were not ready for the rioting and looting. Of course, no one would have imagined that their business would be looted or destroyed. In retrospect, many business owners thought that if they were not located in Minneapolis then they had nothing to worry about. Wrong! Regardless of one’s perspective as to the reason for the rioting and looting, either in Minneapolis or anywhere else, it really comes down to knowing your community.
For too long businesses have placed their merchandise in display windows for all the world to see. Their security measures would often consist of one layer of glass to protect those items. Others might also install a glass break sensor on the windows, but that is not a prevention measure, it is a reactive security measure.
For example, if you break the glass it may or may not alarm, as it all depends on the type of glass break security device that is installed. If it is the old-style foil tape security sensor, that tape must be broke for the alarm to activate. If it is an acoustic or shock security sensor, they will react differently depending on what is occurring. The two types operate differently but have the same objective: that is to set off your alarm when triggered. The acoustic glass break sensors work by “perceiving” the sound of breaking glass. On the other hand, the shock sensors work by “sensing” a physical disruption of the glass. Both styles can be defeated to some extent, so it is not something you want to rely on to prevent a break in or notify authorities of such.
Business Location May Increase Your Security Threat
It is all about location! Those businesses located in areas where protesters/rioters and so on are likely to congregate, the more risk you will likely have.
In many cases protesters may use locations such as near a police station, city hall, or other government facility as their staging location. This is because their target for their protest is often associated with a facility like the above. Participants are also seeking attention; thus, they will congregate in a location where they will be seen and heard. If your business is located in any area such as this, your security risks are likely elevated.
On the other hand, when it comes to looting the people doing it will look for products that they can personally use or sell. Thus, the reason why retail stores, big box stores, cell phone stores and other businesses are often the targets. Now combine the type of business, where they have consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and other products, with a location that is at high risk for protesters/rioters, now you have a much higher risk than the average business.
No one is suggesting that you relocate, because in many cases that is not an option, but you must understand your risks and plan accordingly.
Security Measures Can Fail
If you have watched the news lately, or lived it firsthand, you know that boarding up windows or having a security gate that covers your storefront at night can be breeched. Yet, many businesses had those measures in place, and they were still looted and destroyed.
Other businesses tried other security measures such as hiring private security to protect their business, or the business owners armed themselves and tried to protect their property. In most cases those measures were not effective either.
Hiring a private security firm to protect your business during civil unrest is really for show, meaning that most security officers are not properly trained to deal with rioting and looting. All too often I meet security officers that have no clue as to what they are doing, or why they are doing it, and to hire them to protect your interests is a disaster in the making.
Many times when meeting with business owners I will ask them for their emergency action plan, and in 99.99% of the time I just get a blank stare in return. When pushed for information on how they will handle security threats, they always say they will call the police. When I explain that if there is a community disaster occurring the police may not respond to their calls, they look at me as if I was crazy. Well folks, just watch the news. In many cases businesses that were destroyed during the riots and looting have been told by their police departments that it may be 2-3 weeks before an officer will respond to even take a report.
In cases of civil unrest, to the magnitude that many cities across the country have been subjected to over the last few weeks, the police were overwhelmed, and they were not sending individual officers out to respond.
The point here is that you cannot place all your requests for protection with your local police departments during national crisis’s such as the recent rioting. You as a responsible business owner need to understand what risks your business faces, due to location or type of business, and then understand what physical security measures are needed. You also need to know if those security measures will protect you or fail when you least expect it.
Security Risk Mitigation
I know that due to the Covid19 shutdown many businesses were struggling to survive and had just recently re-opened before the civil unrest started. That being the case, many businesses may not have the funds to improve their security at this time. Also, as mentioned before, most businesses will not be able to relocate, and I understand those reasons. However, be responsible and proactive and determine your risks and put measures in place to mitigate those risks as much as possible.
First thing that comes to mind as a result of the rioting and looting is that businesses may need to change the glass in the storefront windows and doors with a high-security glass. This type of glass may shatter upon impact but will not be breeched. If you want to secure any vulnerable entry points like glass doors and windows without sacrificing visual appeal, you will want to consider Laminated glass containment-grade clear panels. Once installed they will look like any other glass window.
Laminated glass is created by sandwiching a durable plastic interlayer (usually polyvinyl butyral [PVB]) between two panes of strengthened glass. The glass and PVB are chemically bonded to one another during the manufacturing process, making it incredibly difficult to break. Laminated glass doubles as a safety glass. When the glazing is struck, it breaks within the frame, but is held in place by the PVB.
If your business is a small family owned business and has a large number of glass windows at street level you may not be able to afford this level of security. But there are other measures that you can and should take to reduce the severity of losses.
I am reminded about a conversation with a gun shop owner a few years back that had his business broken into 3 times and lost dozens of firearms during each incident. I asked him why he did not secure the guns in a safe at night, and he complained about the amount of effort and work that that would require. Well now, our conversation was really interesting to say the last, and in the end, he did not make any changes to his business practice and that was not the end of his story. His business closed within a year of that conversation due to the extremely high costs of repairs that he had to make each time there was a smash and grab, and his insurance rates went through the roof. Not to mention the number of guns that were on the streets of a major city that already had an extremely high crime rate.
So, what it comes down to; spend the money to protect your business as much as you can, or take your chances going forward. It is my opinion that the cities where the rioting and looting were widespread will see an exodus of businesses that will opt for a safer location. Of course, there will also be many businesses that will not survive the recent event of COVD19 and the rioting/looting as well.
In closing, there are many steps that you can take to protect yourselves, your family, and your business in our ever-changing world. To do nothing is an option, but not one that I would recommend. I understand that money is tight for a lot of people, but not determining your risks now is without a doubt a poor business decision. The few thousands that you might save now, will likely be small in comparison to the large losses that may occur in the future. It is your call.