Archive for the ‘Protective Services and Investigations’ Category

Active Shooter Response Options

September 6th, 2017 Comments off

Want to learn more? Watch our Aggressors and Active Shooters in the Workplace webinar below and register for our Active Shooter Online Training course here: 

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Extremists Rallies –Permission and Preparation

August 21st, 2017 Comments off


With the increasing frequency of ‘extremist’ group demonstrations or rallies comes the security concerns brought on by the emotionally driven misconduct often occurring at these events. The First Amendment dictates the need for permission and tolerance of these gatherings, even though there is often an undertone of hatred that drives them. I feel that this is an emotion that should not be rewarded with a public voice, but that is just my opinion. Unfortunately, during some of these events, participants feel the end justifies the means. That is when things get out of hand and underscores the importance of event precautions and preparation.

This tendency towards violent outbreaks has become increasingly evident in politically, or racially, motivated gatherings where groups with opposite viewpoints clash. This misconduct often results in arrests of course, but it still represents a danger to peaceful demonstrators or civilians just trying to go about their business in the area. Take the most recent events in Charlottesville, VA at the University of Virginia. A racially motivated and permitted rally that attracted opposing factions (haters). Violence broke out, and someone drove a car into the crowd killing one woman and injuring many others. We have clearly been put on notice that these events will draw the wrong element. Aggressors will show up along with those who want to voice their opinions peacefully; those for whom the First Amendment was intended.

My suggestions for campuses, communities and nearby companies that are concerned about announced events such as these is to meet with the local police and find out what preventive measures are being considered. Also, given the nature of the event, would authorities consider not granting the demonstration permits because of the public safety concern it represents. In the wake of the Charlottesville incident, Texas A&M announced it had canceled the “White Lives Matter” rally that had been scheduled for 9/11/17 on their campus. Good for them. One can never absolutely say that something violent might have happened, but common sense should prevail.

There are some things to consider when preparing for an event that could become emotionally charged. The following are just a few suggestions and are not an exhaustive list:

  • Establish a rapport with the local police and get briefed on security precautions.
  • Seek the assistance of an investigative service that will assist with open-source monitoring of the Internet sites and social media channels typically used in the planning of such events. It is amazing what people will spout off about on the internet, often with threatening overtones.
  • Based on what you find out from the local police, determine whether your company should contract out for extra security, intelligence gathering and social media monitoring, photographic evidence collection, executive or personal protection and other response options.
  • If the event is planned on your property, consider the physical location and whether it might be susceptible to a vehicular attack similar to what happened in Charlottesville. What barriers should be considered as a defense or at least a deterrent? (Refer to my blog in April)

Observation– It is sad we need to have a “white lives matter” movement and a “black lives matter” movement. Why not “lives matter”- period!

For more about AFIMAC services that can help during event planning, check out our website at


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Social Media and Terminations

September 22nd, 2015 Comments off

Earlier this year I wrote a blog about two types of terminations that should be considered high risk. One is when aggressive behavior violates workplace violence policies or elevates to an unacceptable level and the person has to be terminated due to that behavior. The other kind can sneak up on you and many workplace violence prevention programs do not address it. With this type, the person has displayed continuously deteriorating work performance, in spite of corrective counseling, and this leads to a termination requirement. What makes this situation high risk is that the underlying cause(s) for the deteriorating work performance can also contribute towards that person’s potential to react violently during the termination itself, or sometime afterwards. Their termination can cause an extreme sense of desperation at a time when they are the most volatile.

Furthermore, you will never know how long the person harbors ill will towards your company, or specific individuals in your company, unless you take measures to monitor them some way. One way to do this is to see their social media posts. Granted, they might password protect certain information but those who are prone to act out violently usually have less concern with privacy than their interest in publicly letting everyone know how they have been unfairly treated. Social media is a vehicle for them to do just that. Use this to your advantage post termination on the high risk cases and you might find out that the problem you thought you solved through termination has only gotten worse. On the positive side, it could also tell you that the person has come to accept what had to be done and is moving on in their life. Either way it is worth the effort or cost to take such precautions.

The most recent horrific workplace shooting of the news crew in Roanoke, VA underscores the value of knowing what is going on with someone who has been let go and remains focused on something or someone in your workplace. Not to say this could have been prevented, but having an idea that a former employee is still focused on you, allows for some possibly preventative options such as police notification, restraining orders, sponsored counseling, etc. In some of these cases, there may be indications of stress induced aggressiveness which should then serve as a red flag. Human resource personnel and the corporate security team should work together and involve third party professionals to evaluate and monitor what is going on in this person’s life.

Violence is typically a process, not an isolated event. The violence process usually has behavioral red flags along the way. This is what thorough workplace violence prevention training often outlines but it also applies to how the individual leaves the workplace depending on the circumstances of the departure.  Not realizing the desperation that a person faces, and the volatility that they represent, could be dangerous and using every tool available to gather data is prudent. The job may have been all they had left to depend on!  They are now focusing on your company as the evil force that took away the one last thing that was important to them.

For more information regarding safely conducting a termination process for all types of high risk cases, check out the courses at Also refer to for more information regarding social media investigations.

How Can Social Media Content Help Combat Bullies at Work?

August 26th, 2015 Comments off

Workplace bullying is often the first step in a developing workplace violence issue. One that can result in lost employees, lost productivity, law suits, and can lead to overt violence if left unchecked. What if the bully is a supervisor?  If aggressive tactics are tolerated as supervisory motivators, they will become the dominant form of management. This is an absolute path towards organizational failure. Fear has only a small place in supervision. Holding people accountable can be done in a very civil and subtle manner. There is often a blurred line between being held accountable and being pressured by a bully who says they are trying to motivate. The effects will often be: lower energy levels, no employee initiative, and manipulative behavior among employees to avoid the bully, health problems, and many others.

How can bully supervisors exist in some workplaces for so long without being dealt with? Bullying and inappropriate aggression will continue if they are ignored. Fear is usually what causes this tendency to ignore or deny the behavior. Either fear of harm or reprisal. The bully’s tactics are effective in that regard. It is easier to avoid the problem than to address it. However, ignoring is another form of tolerance. Tolerance is another form of acceptance. This perceived acceptance is why bullying, if allowed to exist for too long, will lead to a physical incident eventually.

There is another tool to help monitor/control this behavior. For example, a client requested to have a supervisor monitored, due to one brave employee’s concern regarding the supervisor’s aggressive and verbally abusive behavior. As a precaution, they wanted to monitor the supervisor’s open source social media “footprint”. They contracted a firm to monitor his various social media feeds for content using a number of keywords. The supervisor had posted statements that were somewhat troubling and suggested that he may act out in the future even more aggressively. Furthermore, factors outside the workplace were adding to the situation. Social media data was harvested, collected and stored for analysis.

Unfortunately, the performance improvement plan that the company put the supervisor on did not produce the desired results and the company decided to terminate the individual.  The company was confident with their decision, as they were armed with the individual’s potentially dangerous social media posts, adding to the lack of behavior improvement. Security measures were put in place to mitigate any termination risk. The event took place with a heated verbal outburst, however no physical violence occurred. The company opted to continue social media surveillance for an additional 30 days following the termination. The individual posted a number of statements expressing his displeasure, but none of them were deemed as threatening. After a few days, the individual’s posts returned to normal and the surveillance was discontinued.

Learn more about how to protect your workers from being bullied. Check out the “Workplace Bullying: Identification and Response” course on the AFIMAC online training site Also, go to to see how to order social media investigative assistance discretely online.

Active Shooter Response Planning

July 24th, 2015 Comments off

With every news flash of a workplace active shooter incident, now almost monthly, it becomes increasingly evident that organizations/businesses/schools need an Active Shooter Response Plan. Furthermore, this is not a one size fits all challenge. Granted, the plan from one organization or institution to another may have some common reaction guidelines. Most of the active shooter response videos and training courses available promote a variation of the ‘run/hide/fight’ responses. However, the way your employees/occupants apply these concepts in an actual incident needs to be specific to the uniqueness of your facility.

Yes, in fact there are only three response choices for facility occupants to rely upon:

  • get out – exit immediately if possible
  • hide out – lock and barricade quietly in place if escape is not possible
  • take out – mass attack the shooter if you’re cornered and fight for your life

However to be practical and effective, tailored active shooter response protocols have to take into account several factors such as:

  • The type of facility in question –school, mall, office, factory, sports complex, etc.
  • The environment in which the facility is located –city, suburban, rural, remote, etc.
  • The type of communication system available – public address system, mass texting or email, audible warning, etc.
  • The occupants’ capabilities –employees or non-employees, age, physical abilities, etc.
  • Emergency responder availability/response time
  • Public occupants vs. employees only

These are just to name a few.

Other factors will influence the variations of how ‘get out/hide out/take out’ is applied and which of these response options are selected under what conditions. Having a generic plan which defines the three basic options is only the beginning. Accounting for the uniqueness of your facility and giving example circumstances to prepare each occupant to know specifically how they should react in a situation is the key to developing an effective active shooter response plan.

Then the plan must be tested and rehearsed. Include the local emergency responders in the refinement of your plan. Lessons learned from other incidents that have occurred, and from your own rehearsals, can be used to further modify and tailor your active shooter response plan; the one that might become part of your legal defense and your clear conscience. Facility management has a legal and moral responsibility to have an active shooter response plan that is practical and will give people a chance to survive. It’s the right thing to do.

For more detailed training regarding active shooter response guidelines see our course at

Does Domestic Violence Translate to Workplace Violence?

March 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Absolutely it does! First of all, your workplace violence policy should address the reporting of domestic abuse as a requirement, not just a suggestion. This includes the observation of it happening to a co-worker. The policy should give clear reasons why this is necessary, and perhaps list examples of cases where domestic violence exploded within the workplace. Did you know that 74% of the reported cases of domestic abuse also reported that some of the abuse actually took place in the victim’s work area? Consider if an abused spouse or partner secures a restraining order for the home, or if the victim moves, where is the next most predictable place to find that victim? The workplace; where now others are exposed to the abuser.

It used to be that companies did not want to get involved with domestic abuse experienced by one of their employees. There was a ‘check your personal problems at the door’ attitude. That demeanor now is unacceptable and flat out dangerous. The violent spouse or partner in a fit of rage seeking the victim at their workplace does not always confine the violence to just the victim. The company or organization has a moral and legal responsibility to be aware of such abusive activity and foresee that it could enter the workplace and become everyone’s problem. The courts will certainly look at it that way should an incident occur in the workplace and someone else is hurt.

Turning a blind eye and allowing the abuse to go unreported, is not a defense. If the victim’s co- workers are aware of the abuse, then the organization needs to be aware of it. Therefore, your policy needs to make all of your employees aware of their responsibility to report such a situation for a discrete investigation. Besides doing the right thing to help the victim employee, your knowledge of the abuse, and subsequent actions taken to protect that individual and the work environment, will become part of your defense. Options might include counseling or other Employee Assistance Program (EAP) intervention, relocating the affected employee within the office to a new work space, changing their schedule to avoid nighttime parking, or even transferring them to another facility if that would help. Make some accommodations that will either help with the direct problem, or reduce the likelihood that the problem will manifest itself at work in a violent manner. OSHA’s general duty clause maintains the expectation that the workplace be made safe from foreseeable dangers and this is one of them.

Please explore our online training courses available at for workplace violence prevention courses as well as other security disciplines.

Active Shooter Response for Building Occupants

September 18th, 2012 Comments off

Practically speaking only three reactions need to come to mind in the event you find yourself in a building with an active shooter attacking inside – Get Out – Hide Out – Take Out. This kind of scenario is the most dangerous workplace violence situation and will require some forethought and discipline to survive.

Get Out – In order to select the right initial response you will have to assess, as best as you can safely, where the shooting is taking place and which way the active shooter may be proceeding. That will be your first clue to determine whether you can select the first, and most desirable option, which is to get out immediately. If you are at work, it will help if you have a predetermined exit plan with a back up if that pathway would lead toward danger. Saving time and reacting immediately can be the difference between getting out safely and getting trapped in. When you evacuate take nothing with you –your personal stuff can stay. Though you want to move quickly, check around corners and into stairwells before you enter in case the shooter is moving quietly after the original shots were fired. Get people to come with you. If they resist don’t let them slow you down and stay as quiet as possible in the evacuation. Once outside, seek cover at a safe distance and prevent others from entering unknowingly.

Hide Out – If the active shooter is spotted or heard outside your immediate space and you cannot get out, then hide out. If behind closed doors, barricade your space and lock the door and remain quiet. If you are in a cubical or open area hide silently under a desk. Doing it silently will be hard but you must stay quiet! Turn off all radios, office machines, and lights if possible. Turn off cell phones. Don’t just put on vibrate mode- turn OFF! Let someone else call the police for help from a safe place. Hide behind anything thick and heavy and available for cover. Mentally prepare for the last option if the active shooter enters your space.

Take Out – If you are in a space with others, assemble as quiet as possible and plan to attack in mass should the active shooter enter. Do not hesitate to hurt the shooter very badly because you are fighting for your life. Don’t just hurt them –incapacitate them! Then restrain them with whatever is available after getting the weapon from them. Do not take the weapon with you if you then exit. Listen for any other shooters before leaving that space because there might be more than one. If police have begun searching the building be very careful how you exit or move towards an exit. Responding police don’t know you! Do what they say if they see you.

Now if you were by yourself under a desk, the best you can do is try to get something to use as a weapon and prepare to fight for your life if the active shooter finds you. If they go past you, be very careful before you try to exit because you don’t really know where the shooter is. This will be a personal decision but remember to move quietly if you do so.

For a more detailed set of guidelines check out the Active Shooter Response course on which will be released for purchase later this year as part of our ongoing Workplace Violence Prevention series.

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Safe Terminations – Reducing the Chance of Violence

July 18th, 2012 Comments off

All too often management feels that removing an overly aggressive problem employee through a sudden termination, even if justified, will solve the potential workplace violence problem. The fact is that even with the best intentions a misconducted termination might be the seed of a more serious problem. A ‘need for revenge’ problem may develop if the termination is done without regard for the individual and their unique situation. Furthermore, you are in less of a position to monitor and control this condition once the problem employee has left your organization. Much depends on the specific circumstances that lead to the decision to terminate but conducting the separation process in a manner that takes away the individual’s desire to seek revenge on you or your organization is the ultimate goal.

In general, once a termination is decided upon because of an individual’s behavior, a full case assessment should be conducted to determine the best way to separate the employee and help them move on in their life. Whether the behavior development was progressive over time, as is usually the case, or a sudden outburst has caused the decision to terminate, options for handling the high risk termination in the most appropriate manner must be considered. Gaining a real understanding of the individual and the reasons for their behavior will arm you with what should be considered during and after the termination process.

There are two conditions that most often exist with potentially high risk terminations. One, the termination is rushed just to remove the employee who has acted out in one aggressive, intolerable incident. Frequently, this is not a sudden, singular outburst but a severe occurrence of a behavior pattern that has existed, but been unreported, for some time. The second is when an underlying aggressive behavior pattern has finally been reported but the individual has been getting away with such behavior for quite some time. Both of these types of cases require time to assess the individual and the developing circumstances to determine the right method, timing and conditions for the termination process. It is beyond the scope of this narrative to completely review the options available and things to consider. However, a careful assessment by a clinical professional working closely with your case assessment team would produce an approach specific to the individual that might include any of the following:

  • Interviews between the individual and the clinical psychologist working on the case
  • Interviewing coworkers and supervisors
  • Seeking other healthcare professionals for the individual
  • Seeking substance abuse professionals for assistance
  • Family counseling or use of other community services available
  • Coordination with security for the termination session planning and follow up security measures
  • Close coordination with HR for the termination process
  • A well thought out logistical/security plan for the termination interview and exit process
  • Follow up interviews with the individual to track progress after separation
  • Outplacement services to assist with seeking new employment
  • Extended benefits of some type
  • Severance packages tied to certain expectations

For a more complete exploration into the coordination of High Risk Terminations check out the training courses available on

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The Occupy Movement – How to Prepare For an Event

June 4th, 2012 Comments off

With the increasing popularity of the “Occupy Movement” and their high profile events in many cities, companies often wonder what they can do to prepare. This movement has become popular for a number of reasons that include but are not limited to:

  • The perception that there is an unjustifiable gap of wealth between the normal worker (the 99%) and the corporate wealthy (the 1%)
  • The belief that there is strength in numbers for a cause that many people can relate to
  • The belief that sometimes peaceful civil disobedience is required to garner enough attention to make an impact in society
  • The belief that corporate greed has caused both our recent economic crisis and the seemingly hamstrung economic recovery since then
  • A notion that sometimes the end justifies the means

It is that last fact that is most concerning. The First Amendment to our Constitution allows for freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. It does not condone some of the activity that has been experienced at the Occupy Movement’s gatherings. This occasional misconduct has resulted in arrests of course but still represents a danger to civilians trying to go about their business in the areas of public demonstration or picketing.

My suggestions for companies that are concerned about either finding out about whether an Occupy event is planned for their area, or whether their company has been identified as a possible target for picketing /public demonstration/ flash mobbing, etc. are as follows:

  • Establish a rapport with the local police to assure that when they find out through the local permitting process, or law enforcement intelligence gathering efforts, someone from the company will be made aware of such a possibility
  • Seek the assistance of an investigative service that will assist with open source monitoring of internet sites typically used in the planning of such events
  • Develop open exchange of information with the police and meet with them to assess what they will be able to do for your facility and personnel if an event is expected or develops
  • Based on what you find out from the local police, determine what your company has to contract out regarding extra security, intelligence gathering, photographic evidence collection, executive or personal protection and other response options
  • Do some table top crisis management exercises with this possible “Occupy” type of disruption as the topic to test your preparedness and consider that it might occur in conjunction with your annual shareholders meeting for example
  • If you have been identified as a corporate target – Internet monitoring and intelligence gathering becomes a full-time requirement

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Workplace Safety, Health & Wellness Symposium – Claims Management, Fraud and Your Bottom Line: The Real Cost of Risk

May 22nd, 2012 Comments off

As a Gold Partner of the EAC and CME symposium on Workplace Safety, Health & Wellness – Claims Management, Fraud and Your Bottom Line: The Real Cost of Risk, AFI would like to invite and offer you a promo code to receive a discount.

Desmond Taljaard of AFI will also be in attendance and presenting Factors to Consider When Investigating Claims of Workplace Injuries

Please find further information here or contact to have a brochure emailed to you.

To register simply click this link and enter promo code “afipromo” in small letters and you will receive the member price of $275 before June 1st and $325 after June 1st.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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