Posts Tagged ‘Investigations’

Active Shooter Attacks – Universities are Soft Targets

February 15th, 2017 Comments off

Historically, active shooter assaults have been driven by motivations of revenge, jealousy, fear or anger. Some have involved domestic relationships that have gone wrong resulting in violent events in the workplace. Many have been a result of disgruntled employees reaching an irrational point of frustration or former employees not being able to get past being terminated. However, now, on the heels of the Paris and Nice attacks in France, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and the Ohio State University attack last year, we should ask another question. Will this type of orchestrated active shooter/deadly assault on ‘soft targets’ continue in our communities, and more specifically on college campuses? In my opinion – this is very likely.

Symbolic government, business, and public infrastructure targets have taken steps to increase security and think about terrorist threat preparation and monitoring. This is great and needs to continue but what about easier targets of equal value in the eyes of attackers. Often these attackers just want to lash out at the perceived evil of western society and what better place to do so than where young people are being educated during a very impressionable period in their lives. Whether religiously motivated, or anti-capitalist motivated, there does not seem to be a lack of terrorist groups, or radicalized individual supporters, that want to attack our way of living and believing. College campuses offer open environments, events with large crowds, and masses of students out on the grounds between classes, with security or campus police departments often being understaffed. Universities and colleges are easy targets that would warrant a significant amount of media attention. No one wants to think about this but we must.

For another perspective on this topic, check out the article in this link:

graphWhy Do Terrorists Target Colleges and Universities?



An attack at a college or university will be difficult to stop and very effective if not planned for, both regarding anticipated emergency response and tapping resources for preventive intelligence gathering. Social media is often used for communication and planning by those who set out to conduct such attacks, so we need to be paying attention and use the expertise available to monitor and analyze such data. Social media is probably a college student’s most frequently used communication channel, and they are very free with what they post – good or bad.

There has already been some success using proactive intelligence for prevention purposes. However, we need to open the door a little wider. It is one of our better defenses, along with having a solid response plan. Colleges and universities should have people dedicated to social media monitoring through geofencing around campuses. This may be a topic I will expand upon in the future.

Develop an active shooter response plan for your facility or campus! Check out our website for assistance at


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Social Media Monitoring after High-Risk Terminations

September 23rd, 2016 Comments off

There are different types of high-risk terminations. Some are obvious, and some are not:

  • Those where the aggressive behavior or act of aggression/minor violence has caused the need to terminate.
  • Cases of deteriorating work performance caused by underlying personal factors affecting the person’s judgement, emotional state, and ability to cope at work. When the work behavior is being affected and cannot be corrected, a termination is sometimes required.
  • Someone caught up in a general RIF or downsizing through no deficiency of his or her own, and they are let go. What might make them high-risk is if their whole life is defined by their job and they have no support structure (family or friends) to fall back on. These can sometimes lead to the person feeling so devastated that they act out during or after the termination. These situations are not always identified as high risk, even though they can be.

After any high-risk termination, you will not 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 method is to monitor their social media posts. It never ceases to amaze me what people will post on social media sites that they would not discuss in public for fear of someone overhearing. Granted, they might password protect certain information, but those who are prone to act out violently usually have fewer concerns about privacy than their interest in publicly letting everyone know how he or she has been unfairly treated and believe they are due some form of justice. Social media is a vehicle for them to do just that and you should seek this information after termination in high-risk cases. You might find out that the problem you thought you solved through termination has only gotten worse. Not only are they more desperate now but they are solely focused on your company as the reason for their personal downfall. Knowing that a former employee feels this way gives you some options to pursue, such as notifying the police, obtaining a restraining order, offering sponsored counseling, etc.

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 after their departure and especially around pivotal dates. Postings may become more prevalent around dates of hire and termination, birthdays, holidays, and other symbolic time frames. On the positive side, it could also tell you when the person has come to accept what had to be done and is moving on with their life. You might find they post happy thoughts about new employment or a new outlook on life related to some new endeavor. Either way, it is worth the effort and cost to take such precautions.

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 and it applies even after 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.

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The Communications Challenges and Security Response to a Workplace Crisis

December 14th, 2011 Comments off

Whether it’s a workplace violence incident, a product contamination discovery, an internal accusation of harassment or abuse, an industrial accident, or any other critical incident that has the potential to destroy your business or institution, how and when it goes public is critical. That question of how and when it is addressed in public should be your decision and you need to do everything in your power to keep it so. That doesn’t mean hide it until you think you have to say something. That means get out in front of it when you know something has happened. Do the right thing and tell people you are doing the right things. In this day of real time social media, there is very little chance of ‘no one finding out’.

Selection of who will talk to the public via the media, and determining what they will say when, are the most essential elements of the communications plan. Having a designated spokesperson for the organization is recommended but, depending on the severity of the incident, that may not be the only person who must deliver a message. More devastating incidents that have resulted in, or could lead to, the loss of life may require a senior executive spokesperson for some selected messages. The ‘what’ you say needs to be driven by facts and not hearsay. This will of course develop with the progression of the case but don’t, in your zeal to be forthright, report anything that is not verified as correct. The ‘when’ is essentially, as soon as possible after you verify.  State what has happened, what actions are being taken, and that more information will be shared as it is confirmed. The theme of all of your messages should be; concern for life, uncovering any wrongdoing, and doing the right thing to respond and help.

The resultant spin-off security issues could be extensive but not immediately apparent. Have there been mistakes made that could appear malicious? This could lead to threats to individuals or your facilities. Is there the likelihood of special interest groups, or general public, outcry and demonstration? What are the follow through investigative requirements that you should be engaging internally? Should this be a police matter? Analyze the situation from several different perspectives other than the reputation of your business or institution. Could anything that has happened be a warning of a future occurrence? It may be advisable to do a situational threat assessment to explore what could develop and whether you’ve taken adequate security measures to prepare? All of these issues and more will contribute to mitigating further damage, perhaps saving lives, and helping you survive the court of public opinion to which everyone will have to answer.

Check out the related training courses on our online training site . Some to explore would be:

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