If your company is planning to have people go to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next summer there are a few things corporate security teams need to be preparing for now. The Olympic events will bring thousands of people into the country and there will be an increase in street crime activity and possible terrorist threats that go along with the excitement of, and media attention brought by the games. This goes beyond the normal understanding of general security awareness measures and reserving lodging and transportation. You have to make your employees and guests understand how and why people might be targeted beyond the significance of the event being a terror target. Granted, authorities will be doing the work to maintain a secure environment at the Olympic event venues. However, your people’s time in country outside of those venues is even more of a challenge. Latin American countries while beautiful, can be dangerous places and Brazil is no exception, even though they have been preparing for these games. Violent street crime is an increasing problem as are the activities of more organized Transnational Crime Organizations (TCO’s). The proper approach to personnel security during these games will have to due primarily with these three things:
- Having them maintain target selection awareness and low key appearance
- Having an overall secure transportation plan
- Vetting approved lodging options
In terms of awareness, short-term visitors to Rio need to focus on how not to become an attractive target of opportunity. Remember that perception is reality to the street criminal looking for an easy mark. Foreigners seeming to be confused or tentative, and appearing to have some wealth, are their targets. Wealth is also a relative term so just wearing expensive clothes or a shiny watch could be all that is necessary to establish your value to them. (Your presence at any of these events alone might mark you as someone of means.) Then, assailants will observe your level of awareness. Even street criminals will observe various possible targets before they select their victim. Whether at the airport or hotel, on the street, or at one of the events, if you move about with a very low key, alert and prepared demeanor, wearing simple attire and limited or no jewelry, you reduce the likelihood of being selected for assault. When walking, remain alert for approaches towards you and respond assertively. This will communicate that you are not going to be an easy target. Potential assailants will choose someone who appears to have valuables or cash and who also seems easy to catch off guard.
However, just blending in and being alert is not the only defense. Corporate security teams will have to do some advance work regarding personnel transportation and lodging. Employees and corporate guests need a plan for where they are going to stay (approved hotel locations), who will meet them (perhaps a security driver), and how they will coordinate their transportation needs with that driver. This will help them avoid that ‘lost or confused’ appearance. Arranging for a security driver is a great way of assuring this. Not a limousine but a simple sedan or van driven by someone who knows the area, understands target selection, and can keep your personnel out of dangerous locations. Also, remember that these services will be booked up early for the time period of the games so, just as you have secured lodging early, reserve the transportation service you will need by January or February of 2016. Otherwise, your personnel may get stuck with ‘security drivers’ who are not qualified but are recruited by vendors at the last minute.
More extended visits by your senior executives bring other elements into play. This affords the chance to study them over a longer period of time to assess their possible value as a kidnap or extortion target. Kidnappers often study several possible kidnap or extortion targets and pick the one that offers the most value at the least risk. For executives, conducting themselves in a low-key manner is still important but now they have to be observant for repeats of people or vehicles that observe them during their day. This is probably criminal surveillance. A security driver is again a great option if not a close protection detail for higher profile executives. Busy, distracted business executives should be encouraged to take advantage of a security driver. Defensive safeguards such as practicing designed randomness, route planning, and surveillance detection takes daily mental concentration. This level of attention to detail and observation is difficult to practice when the executive’s daily focus will be on their business, family members or guests, and their enjoyment of the games.
This brief discussion is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to avoiding becoming a part of the increasingly disturbing crime statistics of Latin American countries. For more detailed information about our services in Latin America hit our website at www.afimacglobal.com.