Author Archive

Practice Makes Perfect

October 19th, 2015 Comments off

I recently took part in an active shooter exercise and it was a great learning experience.

The people that attended the exercise were made up of security, human resources, legal and HS&E professionals. The scenario involves 15 employees attending an event at a US hotel where a gunman enters, an employee gets killed and two are seriously injured.  The remaining employees are accounted for with the exception of two that are missing.

Everyone participating in the exercise had a representative from each discipline. We had to work together as a team to manage the crisis and emergency response. As you can imagine, we encountered many challenges. The team went to work and developed an initial action plan with a critical goal of protecting and caring for our people.

Those in human resources and HS&E engaged a third party travel risk management vendor. They were tasked with getting 12 uninjured staff to a safe place and evacuated once the situation stabilized. The travel risk team also engaged medical professionals who were able to coordinate first aid response for the injured. Employees at the hotel received instructions from medical professionals on how to stabilize the injured until EMS could enter the site.

The security team immediately notified the company’s security operations centre. The regional security manager was directed to travel to the area and set up a temporary command centre in a nearby hotel. Law enforcement was contacted and informed. The travel risk management vendor was also asked to dispatch crisis coordinators to work with the regional security manager.

Legal and compliance personnel briefed senior management and engaged the crisis communication vendor. Communication with the employees’ families was initiated. It was decided that the senior managers would attend the homes of families of the deceased and injured to lend support. Insurance firms were notified and thresholds for coverage reviewed. Risk managers began to access exposure to liability and determine the best course of action to mitigate risk. Communication experts also prepared external communication messaging.

We quickly learned despite all our combined expertise, that we were ill prepared to manage the crisis. The need to have a detailed plan became quite clear.  We were making numerous decisions on the fly with no real clear guidelines or objectives.

In the end, the police cleared the site within 8 hours. EMS moved in and assisted the injured. The travel risk firm’s doctor was critical in instructing the uninjured to care for the injured until EMS could move into place. The regional security manager and crisis responders were able to communicate with the uninjured staff and get them to a secure place once the police had cleared the hotel. Transportation and airfare were coordinated to return folks home. It became clear, that practice makes perfect. If you have not practiced responding to an emergency – do so. It will be a tremendous learning experience.



Find Out Before its Too Late

September 30th, 2015 Comments off

We recently supported a client with an evacuation of their personnel from a project site in Africa. The clients had received threats and it was decided that personnel would need to leave.

As with many situations like this, it was chaotic. In the process of evacuating, the client learned that their current Travel Risk Management program had a number of gaps. We typically do not always see these gaps until we are in the midst of a crisis.

The client first learned that the insurance they had in place to protect travellers and expats required that a travel restriction be issued in order to meet the threshold for coverage. Meaning they could evacuate, however they would assume all costs associated. Although the area had become unstable, there was no travel restriction issued by any country. There had only been warnings and advisories issued.

In addition to this, there were other groups making the similar decision to evacuate personnel. Their current vendor was no longer able to support their needs as they were stretched to capacity. After making enquires, the client decided to contact with our team. We commenced working with them and the immediate decision was to have personnel hold in place until logistics could be coordinated for their extraction. Staff members were provided with guidance and access to our crisis hotline at our global security operations centre in Johannesburg.  A small team was mobilized to the area and began support. An assessment of the situation was completed and the best option was to extract personnel. Ground transportation and aircrafts were coordinated and personnel were safely moved to a neighbouring country.

In analyzing the client’s travel risk management program, the following was discovered:

  • The client had a medically focused program in place that was not well suited for security related evacuations
  • The travel insurance they had required a travel restriction to be issued in order to activate coverage
  • When the decision was made to incur the cost to evacuate, the vendor they had was engaged by others and no longer had resources
  • The client discovered that they needed to expand procedures internally to ensure events like this were managed more smoothly in the future

We have since worked with the client to develop a more robust response to security related crisis situations. In addition to this, we introduced our CAP product. The client acquired memberships for all personnel posted internationally. This ensured that they do not need to have a travel restriction issued in order to meet thresholds for cost recovery.

The client was able to enhance their existing program and reduce costs in the event of a crisis. In addition, their employees now feel safe and secure when working abroad knowing these improvements had been made.

The lesson here is to make sure you ask the right key questions when developing your crisis plan prior to an incident. If you would like a review of your current crisis response plan, please feel free to reach out. We can provide an analysis the will allow you to close the gaps.


How Well Do You Know Your Employees?

August 25th, 2015 Comments off

In the past few months, I’ve been assisting a client with a drug related investigation. If the initial homework had been done, the client would have made a very different decision at the time of hiring the subject of the investigation.

The client had completed a traditional background check that consisted of a criminal, financial and reference check. Then about a year after hiring this employee, some disturbing circumstances appeared relating to drugs and racist comments. Based on the current situation we advised the client that they should consider the following:

  • Investigative Research
  • Social Media Surveillance
  • Undercover and/or Surveillance

The client elected to conduct social media surveillance for a 30-day period. We identified approximately 150 keywords related to the client’s concerns and commenced harvesting data across the top most common platforms. We wanted to capture the last 100 posts per platform plus be alerted to any current activities. The employee was lax with privacy settings, so we were able to harvest a gold mine of information such as racist comments and posts showing drug use and risky life style choices. The client then elected to commence with a parking lot surveillance for phase two, as the data gathered indicated there was a strong likelihood that drug related activities were taking place on company property. The surveillance uncovered the use and sale of drugs by the employee and other coworkers. In addition, the employee was observed leaving the site in a company vehicle where other transactions took place in public locations with unidentified individuals.

Based on the information and evidence collected, the client had us contact and work with local law enforcement. The client’s goal was to terminate those involved in illegal activities. The decision was made to have police intervene on company property during a time when most activity took place. This proved to be very successful, as a large amount of marihuana was found and several arrests were made. The client had a clear policy on drug use, which allowed for termination of the individuals involved. The police also learned that the subject of the investigation had a grow op in his home.

The potential damage to the client’s reputation and brand could have been considerable. Concerns for workplace safety and violence could have developed had the problem continued.

During the follow up and de-briefing, the client indicated that they wanted to develop a program to mitigate future risks. After consulting with the client’s human resources and legal department, we developed a social media footprint search as part of their pre-employment screening process. Each new employee’s social media footprint is reviewed along with the last ten posts per platform are collected. This provides a recent snapshot of the potential employees’ lifestyle choices.

Since implementing the program a number of potential employees who would have met traditional requirements have been disqualified based on social media footprint results.

The cost of a bad hire can have extremely damaging results. Make sure you really know who you are hiring.



Preparing for the Risk

July 29th, 2015 Comments off

I recently worked on an interesting file regarding a potential threat of workplace violence. We were contacted regarding the termination of a male employee. This individual was in the middle of a nasty divorce and his work performance had declined considerably. There were concerns regarding his behaviour. The individual was becoming emotionally unstable and aggressive towards others. Management took these concerns seriously and attempted to provide support and assistance. Unfortunately this fell on deaf ears. A decision was made to exit the employee. I was contacted to develop a strategy to mitigate the risk should the termination not proceed in a positive manner. After gathering the background details the following recommendations were made:

  • Post termination security which would monitor the exterior access points

The concern was that the employee might attempt to access the facility or seek revenge against managers and coworkers outside of the workplace.

The client reviewed the options and arranged for a call to discuss them and make a final decision on a plan. The client elected to monitor social media for a period of 30 days and engage the recommended security components. They chose not to engage in surveillance unless there was an increase in risk. There was a concern that if the surveillance was detected it would lead to an increased likelihood of legal action. The client’s management team debated the risk posed versus the potential legal implications. These types of debates are common. The challenge is what happens if the employee elects to target coworkers and management and an incident occurred, would manage be found negligent based on the fact they had concerns but elected not to proceed. This is always a difficult question to answer.

We commenced with the plan. Our social monitoring uncovered some open source posts that raised some red flags.  Most of the posts touched on the employee’s troubles and how he felt wronged. The tone was of someone who could possibly lash out if a negative event should occur.

The termination proceeded as planned and the protection agent escorted the employee to his vehicle at which point he exited without issue, other then a heated verbal outburst directed at the human resources manager. The employee was told to not return to the facility or have any contact with the staff. Unfortunately two days after his termination, he returned. Security intervened and successfully de-escalated the situation. The employee claimed he had items he needed to return. This was despite the fact the client had provided instruction and prepaid courier pickup for the items belonging to the company. After the termination, outplacement and support services were present to ensure the employee had resources and a safety net.

No one knows what the employee’s intentions were the day when he was intercepted by security. Was this a man down on his luck only seeking to return the company’s belongings or did he have something very different on his mind.

Too many times in the recent past we have read about situations where things have gone horribly wrong.

Social media monitoring has been ongoing for this individual and although his posts were of concern, it appears the individual has come to grips with his situation for the time being. None of the posts warranted police involvement.

We advised the client to pay special attention to key dates, which may trigger future events. These dates include:

  • Date of hire
  • Date of termination
  • Birthdays

Workplace violence and managing terminations continues to be a challenge for security and human resources staff. Balancing the risk versus the probability of an incident is never easy. No employer wants to feel heavy handed and disrespectful but you also never want to be without a plan incase you need to respond to a risk.


When Pricing is Equal, What Separates Vendors?

June 10th, 2015 Comments off

Often pricing is relatively comparable when looking at vendors. How a vendor is able to respond and provide service is the only real difference.

Make certain you engage the vendor’s operations personnel at the onset. Also give them a few small test cases. Do they respond to your email or telephone calls in a timely manner? Do they make simple tasks more difficult? Can they use common sense? Some individuals come from environments that are extremely process driven and are unable to think outside the box. Failure is almost certain if you require services in a crisis and/or when your needs change on a case-to-case bases.

Having a military or police background does not always mean these individuals have the necessary skills to meet your expectations. Individuals who do not come from industries where customer service is important, often struggle. They often fail to communicate, provide updates and lack the ability to manage project budgets and seek the proper approvals should the scope of work expand. Anything can be solved by spending money foolishly. Can your vendor’s operations personnel manage your cost expectations? Receiving a bill that is 100% over budget is not the kind of surprise you need.

Also ensure operations personnel are clear on whether those supporting them are direct employees or subcontractors. All too often you find out your folks on the ground are dealing with a subcontractor, who in turn has subcontracted out the assignment.

Not only is it wise to meet the operations personnel but also at a minimum you should speak to the people providing support on the ground. By doing this, it will provide the only true sense of their skills, expertise and ability.

By taking time on the front end, you will save heartache and mistakes on the back end.


A Cry For Help!

April 8th, 2015 Comments off

As we try to understand what happened with the recent plane crash, it is becoming clearer as the investigation continues that the co-pilot was suffering from depression. He was struggling to cope and unfortunately elected to take his life along with 150 others. This tragedy is bound to bring about significant changes to the airline industry. Would monitoring this co-pilot’s previous social media activity provide early clues? Companies in all sectors are now conducting social media monitoring and digital surveillance on their employees. The findings are often quite shocking. Threats of violence, suicide, self-harm, and use of weapons as well as narcotics are often uncovered. We all need to think about our own workplaces and imagine the harm that could be done if an individual elects to take action. How many others could be harmed? What would be the trigger to cause a reaction? The big question is, who and how often should one be monitored? I think we will see employees in safety sensitive positions undergoing more aggressive monitoring. We almost always find out after the fact that all the signs were already there.


Start Your Engines

February 25th, 2015 Comments off

Formula 1 racing returns to Mexico with the next race set for November 2015. This event will attract many U.S., Canadian and Latin American fans. Many corporate sponsors will also have VIP and guests travelling to Mexico.

Mexico has recently faced a number of high profile, well-organized protests regarding the disappearance of 43 teachers. Will the protesters take this opportunity to bring attention to their cause? Recently Coca Cola had a facility targeted in Mexico. During the attack, firebombs were tossed and individuals kidnapped. Coca Cola is reported to be contemplating relocating operations to a safer area. These events are just two of the more recent high profile events.

As we know Mexico suffers from high crime rates and ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The disappearance of the teachers pointed to some other troubling discoveries. Local political leaders along with the police and cartels all had a hand in the disappearance.

The auto industry in Mexico is set to overtake Canada in the number of vehicles produced. If oil prices rebound and efforts continue to allow for foreign investment in the oil sector, more and more business travel to Mexico will occur.

What does all this mean for those in corporate security, human resources, corporate travel and event management?

You will require:

- To complete risk assessments to fully understand risks and challenges

- Intelligence gathering and monitoring

- Development of security plans for various levels of travellers

- Pre-trip security briefings

- To review medical plans

- To ensure crisis communication measures are in place

- Budgeting and recommendations for security coverage

- To work with vendors in country to coordinate efforts

Duty of Care obligations need to be communicated to all stakeholders to ensure all parties understand the risk and consequences. You may need to engage security drivers and vehicles for executives. For some groups, GPS tracking and panic devices should be considered to support those with a lower risk profile. VIP guests should be afforded additional security measures. Event based social media monitoring is also becoming a tool that many firms utilize prior to and during events. Threat risk assessments of hotels, event venues and routes will all become part of an overall plan.

The key is to have a plan. November is just around the corner and many firms have already commenced with plans. If you would like more information surrounding the upcoming Formula 1 race and security planning please email to arrange a time to speak with one of our risk mitigation specialists for Mexico.


Follow the Money!

February 25th, 2015 Comments off

The IMF will be hosting the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Lima Peru on October 9 – 11, 2015. Senior executives from the banking and financial sectors, as well as governments will be attending from around the world. Activist groups have cast the IMF in a negative light. In many countries, austerity plans put in place by governments are viewed as the IMF’s way to control a country’s activities. As economic growth has stalled in many parts of the world, the average citizens have grown weary of the prospects of slow job growth and reductions in many services delivered by governments.

This no doubt will garner attention from social activists, as well as hard-core groups looking to bring attention to their cause. As witnessed during recent G8 and G20 gatherings, security challenges and logistics can be an enormous undertaking. Those attending will need to have contingencies in place for intelligence, security and medical response. With recent attacks in Canada, Australia and France, a greater emphasis on security will have to be considered.

Currently we have clients engaging us to provide a host of services for this upcoming event. At this time initial discussions are taking place surrounding threat risk assessments and advanced planning of security details, and security drivers and vehicles are being booked.

Firms are asking for more frequent briefings relative to the conditions within Peru. Event monitoring tools are being engaged. Information posted on social media platforms is often faster than traditional news sources. Locations can now be geo-fenced and critical information harvested to identify and monitor risk.

Needless to say, a combination of some or all of these measures may be considered to ensure your executives’ safety while attending.

If you would like to learn more, please email to book a time to speak with one of our Latin American risk mitigation specialists.

Jim Rovers



Where Do We Go From Here?

January 20th, 2015 Comments off

In recent days we have faced terrorist attacks in Europe. The US uncovered a plot to attack government offices in Washington. Raids in Belgium and German foiled attempts by extremists to attack police and civilians. Each day we read in the news about homegrown terrorists or individuals that have been radicalized.

These events are no longer isolated incidents. We all need to increase our level of security awareness. Corporations need to ensure employees report suspicious activities and have a process in place to evaluate. Business travellers might find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. We need to train them on how to deal with and respond to potential attacks and hostage situations. For those responsible for executive security, ensuring your team has the resources and training will become increasingly important. Not only do we need to focus on travel but also it is important that event planners ensure that security measures are in place at venues. Keep in mind that many venues offer security support. In some cases it is handled very professionally and in others it is not. Ensure you fully understand what you are getting.

Recently I spoke to two clients that had tabled active shooter training in the past 12 months. In both cases, human resources overruled security, as they did not want employees to feel startled. Due to recent events and employees questioning security about why nothing was being done to prepare employees, the decision was overturned and the employees are now receiving active shooter and security awareness training. We need to stop worrying about scaring employees and focus more on today’s reality. This does not mean training needs to be over the top. Finding a balance is key.

Decision-making around security expenditures needs to be taken out of the hands of finance. This does not mean there is no level of accountability. All too often a recommendation reaches finance and without discussion, the budget proposed is dramatically reduced. I recently completed an audit and one of the recommendations was for perimeter fencing. When the proposal was reviewed it was decided to cut the budget in half, which allowed for fencing on only 2 sides of the property leaving the other 2 sides exposed. Those with ill intentions only had to walk around the fence. Why have any fence at all. This is a simple example that displays a lack of understanding. The good news in the end was a member of the executive team elected to take security’s recommendation.

We are now all potential targets of extremists at home and at work. Having a well-resourced plan and ensuring we all become more aware is key to our future security.


Cargo Theft Stats Are Seeing More Driver Involvement?

November 27th, 2014 Comments off

Cargo theft continues to be a growing problem. Some recent stats point to increased driver involvement in cargo crimes.

A new white paper from the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International reported last year truck cargo theft activity spiked in the final quarter of the year, with a total of 242 reported incidents. It detailed that driver theft reached an all high in 2013; increasing 76% over 2012 and a whopping 389% jump over 2011.

Monitoring a driver’s social media footprint may provide information and clues when investigating drivers who might be under the suspicion of being involved in losses.

Tools have been designed to harvest open source social media data in an automated way and provide alerts and reports of suspicious activities.

We have found that almost all stolen items make their way back onto the market. Individuals involved will often use social media as a means to sell items quickly.

Not only can drivers be targeted, you can also monitor individuals and groups who also might be involved. The cost to monitor can be as low as $500 dollars for a 30-day period. Most people I speak with simply don’t have the time to continuously monitor activities on social media.

The good news is you no longer have to spend countless hours being a cyber sleuth. To learn more about our digital surveillance products, please feel free to reach me at

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