By Bill Edwards
On the night of October 1st, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada a gunman opened up with automatic weapons and over 1,500 rounds of ammunition on a sea of open air concert goers. Taking advantage of terrain, specifically high ground afforded by a 32nd-floor hotel room, the gunman was able to benefit from a mass of canalized people in a bowl environment. In a matter of minutes, the gunman was capable of bringing mass murder on an unsuspecting crowd, and once again changed the way we as a nation approach and think about security at public events and functions.
Easy access to a high-rise hotel room gave this shooter complete tactical advantage over innocent people. In a very permissive environment this shooter leveraged surprise and his plot was easily executed. However, this is not the time to point fingers, in fact, it’s an appropriate and opportune time to review how security is viewed and where it exists in our priorities. It is also a time for leaders, stakeholders, and companies that operate in the public space to actively revisit processes, procedures and stress security approaches that make sense. In essence, providing customized mitigation measures, solutions, and recommendations that will fit any type of event, venue, facility, or structure.
Overall, it is vitally important for security in all aspects to maintain a level of agility that allows for predictive and proactive postures and actions rather than mercurial and reactive end states. All too often we see large-scale efforts with regard to post-event forensics in a negative way. Time and time again we see through our media the repetitive questions of “what could we have done better and wasn’t security discussed for this event.” It’s time we turn those forensics into positive after-action reviews that show how we made adjustments to give us a better chance to predict and report results. Furthermore, as security professionals, we should take note of the complexity of this plan, but also the simplicity of its execution. It is time to collectively take a serious approach to security in all areas of public life.
So what can be done? First and foremost, security needs to be the first conversation with any endeavor. In the military, before any mission orders are executed, security is always the first order of work in every echelon of the Army structure. Customized security planning, coordination, solutions, and mitigation measures are the beginning of any security plan. In an era of advanced technologies, vast experiences with terrorism, conflict zone exposure, and a post-9/11 heightened awareness environmental landscape, there is no excuse for making security a low priority or a conversation that simply didn’t happen. There are always mitigation measures to put in place if a comprehensive Threat and Vulnerability Risk Assessment (TVRA) is conducted.
Additionally, a technology roadmap using cutting-edge surveillance solutions that are fully integrated throughout will provide an operations center indications and warnings of threat events rapidly. It is this construct that we provide the proactive posture to enable first responders to act precisely in the event of a security issue. This must be the goal for correct holistic security design.
True security professionals should deliver analysis, advice, design and implementation recommendations as a matter of simply doing business. Understanding, threat, vulnerability, risk, and mitigation is key. As a stakeholder in our public space, you need to ask yourself how I create a secure environment for my business that fits within my budget and allows me to provide the highest level of protection for my people, assets, and critical infrastructure. In the end, the investment is very important. I recommend a strategic vision, research on the competitive market and locating a security consultant that gives you a comprehensive security package emphasizing physical, operational, and technical security expertise that integrates all components without distracting from your day-to-day functions.
Remember, security must be a part of our identity in today’s tumultuous landscape. There is no greater endeavor when it comes to protecting our way of life.
Bill Edwards is Vice President of Operational/Technical Security Services at Thornton Tomasetti. He is responsible for planning, coordinating, resourcing and building operational/technical security services for a world renowned structural engineering company with a long history of successful protective design and physical security projects.