FocusPoint CEO quoted in Vice article discussing concert security in wake of Vegas

October 3rd, 2017 Comments off

By:  Francisco Alvarado

Originally published here

When Stephen Paddock turned the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas into the deadliest shooting in modern US history on Sunday, killing at least 59 people and injuring 527 others, it wasn’t the first time in recent memory that a live-music event served as a soft target for mass bloodshed.

In June, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded 59 more at an Ariana Grande concert in the UK, the blast driving dozens of panic-stricken attendees to jump railings as they made their escape. And perhaps most notoriously, in late 2015, an Islamic State–affiliated terrorist cell carried out coordinated attacks in Paris that claimed nearly 100 lives at an Eagles of Death Metal show in the city’s Bataclan theater, where some concertgoers found themselves trapped inside the venue. (Dozens more civilians were killed in other attacks around the city.)

If they were ever a relative safe haven for (mostly young) people to enjoy their favorite artists up close, live-music shows must now be understood as easy targets for mass murderers of any ideology, a new normal that could result in drastic public-safety measures at future concerts and festivals, according to security experts specializing in large-scale events.

“The top threats we have today didn’t exist three years ago,” Jason Porter, eastern region vice president for global private security firm Pinkerton, said. “These heinous acts are something that have to be at the forefront of every major event planner’s mind.”

While it is virtually impossible to plan for an individual with an arsenal of firearms raining down storms of bullets on 22,000 concertgoers, event organizers and security firms they hire will have to dedicate new resources to planning for surprise attacks. That could lead to live showrunners implementing new pre-event surveillance sweeps, hiring bevies of new off-duty undercover police officers, and possibly taking over entire hotel floors.

“Venue locations will be more scrutinized, as well as taking additional steps to secure hotel rooms that face the venue to prevent something like this from happening again,” Porter said. “Although when you are talking about a massive hotel like Mandalay Bay, it could be hundreds of rooms. The cost would be enormous.”

Advances in police technology could also provide event organizers and concert security teams with tools to respond quicker to an active-shooter situation, according to Greg Pearson, CEO of global risk consulting firm FocusPoint International. He suggested promoters should consider holding events in cities where police departments have deployed gunfire detection systems like Shotspotter, even as some experts question the effectiveness of those programs.

If nothing else, these systems do seem capable of helping first responders locate a shooter’s position faster than calls to 911. “They would know where the bullets are coming from, the type of rounds being used, how many weapons are being fired, and if there is more than one shooter,” Pearson said. “In Vegas, the SWAT team came in a tactical formation, but they had no clue what they were walking into.”

The smoke from Paddock’s weapons setting off his hotel room alarm is reportedly what police used to hone in on his location, and as is often the case during mass-shooting events, initial accounts erroneously suggested there might be more than one shooter. Investigators found 23 firearms in Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel suite on the 32nd floor, where he carried out his attack. An additional 19 firearms were discovered in his home.

It’s already common for music festivals to design their own apps to help people enjoy the shows, but promoters will now be under new pressure to be ready to deliver emergency messages and alerts to patrons, according to Pearson. “If there is an active shooter, you can notify everyone about shots being fired from this general vicinity and guide them toward exit points,” he told me.

Perhaps most important, promoters and venue operators will likely take new steps to train employees about how to get people out of catastrophic incident. “When an emotionally charged event like a mass shooting takes place, most people will run back to the area where they came in,” Pearson said. “The problem is that everyone is heading in the same direction. That artery gets choked of and people get caught in a death funnel.”

Steve Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, said the Scottsdale, Arizona–based nonprofit organization conducts active-shooter response training for concert security personnel from around the country. “We are training you to recognize what gunfire sounds like in a noisy concert or sports venue,” Adelman said. “We are going to teach you how to fight through the paralysis most people suffer so you can be a shepherd that leads people to safety.”

The alliance is also training concert security workers and event operations managers what to do when an individual drives a vehicle into a crowd or when a bomb is detonated inside or near the venue. “We are teaching people how to get crowds to safety quickly,” Adelman said. “Hopefully in a direction of shelter and away from the bad guy.”

Even so, Adelman doesn’t believe Paddock’s homicidal rampage should—or will—prevent promoters from putting together large shows in concentrated urban areas. “Is the lesson here that we don’t hold open air festivals next door to anything anymore?” he said. “I doubt it. This incident shouldn’t change the way people feel about going to shows.”

FocusPoint Intl Vice Chairman Peter Martin interviewed at GBTA 2017 Convention

July 24th, 2017 Comments off

FocusPoint International’s Vice Chairman Peter Martin was interviewed at GBTA 2017 Convention in Boston as a part of the GBTA Industry Voices segment.

FocusPoint International’s CEO Greg Pearson interviewed at GBTA 2017

July 24th, 2017 Comments off

FocusPoint International’s CEO Greg Pearson was interviewed at GBTA 2017 Convention in Boston as a part of the GBTA Industry Voices segment.

Videotaping People Without Them Knowing

June 19th, 2017 Comments off

cqmera

It is usually assumed that those who work in advertising or marketing have to be creative; however, I believe there is a need for creativity in any department. I would equate problem solving as being creative.

As I left the building last night, I saw a project that one of our staff members from the investigations department was working on. Wood, concrete, spray paint and some other materials were being constructed into a contraption to hide a camera to capture video surveillance of a subject for an insurance compensation fraud case for one of our clients. Hidden camera surveillance provides successful results like this one for Aviva.

Over the years, I have seen covert cameras installed into all sorts of everyday objects such as briefcases, sunglasses, pens, and clocks. However, this was the first elaborate build I had seen.

Shaun from our investigations department was not only exuding creativity but clear dedication as well. Kudos to Shaun and the rest of our investigations department for their tireless efforts fighting fraud.

Forget Your Back; These Days, Someone Needs to Cover Your Front

May 30th, 2017 Comments off

johnny

I am disappointed in myself for two reasons:

  1. I almost became a victim of consequences, for texting when attention to surroundings was required
  2. I was not able to bare hand a foul baseball (this one being more forgivable, I suppose)

The senior leadership team, comprised of representatives from ISB, ASAP, AFIMAC, GHM, and FocusPoint met in Cleveland for a few days of meetings. We were able to get out for a social night too. Thanks to our host, Mike Pascoe with Hahn Loeser, we had great seats for the Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay MLB baseball game.

Great seats, but we were also in the prime area of foul ball territory. During the first few innings, we saw fouls balls rocket into seats to the right and left of us. One ball came flying straight at my colleague Joe Schollaert but was too far over the railing to catch it. At that point, I thought to myself that I should pay attention, knowing a ball could come my way at any time. A few innings later, it happened…while I had my head down, catching up on a few emails.

baseball

Peter Martin: “Steve…Steeve…STEVE! STEEVEEEE!!”

It was the urgency in the last “STEEVEEE!!” that finally got me to look up. I first looked to the left thinking there was a home run ball to watch sail over the wall, but the crowd was not cheering. Then suddenly, I saw a ball headed straight for my chest at the last second. I jumped out of my seat and put my hand out to catch the ball where I had been sitting. It hit my palm and dropped to the floor. I had a souvenir and a numb hand instead of a sore chest.

Regardless of your best intentions, having a second set of eyes or backup plan may be key to avoiding an incident.

 

 

 

If It Ain’t Broke, You Can Still Fix It

April 27th, 2017 Comments off

biking

We have seen the last of the snow around our corporate offices, and most people are coming out of hibernation and prepping for the spring and summer months. My wife’s bicycle needed a tune-up, so I brought it into a local bike shop that has been in town for many years. The shop was packed, with only a thin walkway through the center between the rows of bikes waiting for a tune-up.

I was given a numbered ticket that matched up with the bike. The owner said it would be ready in a week and someone would call me when it was ready, but if I did not hear back by then, I should contact the shop. The owner was very nice, knowledgeable, and appeared to be in his element as he had been doing it for years, however, there was room for improvement.

When I called back the shop a week, and two days later, I was asked for the ticket number. Since there was no record of my name or ticket number, the owner told me to stay on the phone with him while he walked up and down the path of bicycles. He then asked, “What kind of bike is it? Did you say it was red? No, you didn’t say, did you…let me see…I may have passed it…when did you drop it off?”

He did not find the bike but promised it would be ready for pick-up the following day. I believed him. I do not think a bike has ever been lost at that shop, but I am sure there have been delays, as I have experienced. Upgrading his system to use software, or even just record info in a logbook would work wonders.

Whether it is a local shop or large corporation, people can become complacent and trust in the motto, ‘If it ain’t broke’.

I have heard comments from travel managers stating that they have never had an incident with their security plan and do not need to change it. Complacency can backfire. Travel security policies need to be reviewed and constantly updated with new and improved services available.

For example:

Terrorism insurance coverage has quadrupled in the last three years

  • Here is the article
  • CAP™ exclusively by FocusPoint, has travel assistance memberships that cover terrorism amongst other travel risks

Epidemic of infectious decease is a concern for travelling workforces globally

  • CAP™ exclusively by FocusPoint, is the first assistance company to offer pandemic coverage

If it ain’t broke, you can still improve upon it.

On the Job in La La Land

March 8th, 2017 Comments off

blog

Lack of concentration and potentially trying to be active on social media:

“Brian Cullinan, one of two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners responsible for handling the envelopes with the names of the Oscar winners, tweeted a picture of actress Emma Stone on Sunday night. The tweet, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, went out just three minutes before presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway walked on stage and announced the wrong Best Picture winner, one of the biggest Oscar foul-ups ever.” – Michelle Castillo, CNBC http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/27/a-tweet-may-be-to-blame-for-the-biggest-oscar-goof-up-in-history.html

Extreme focus during an international football match:

I recently attended a football match at Wembley Stadium in London, UK, with some colleagues and it was impressive. Working in the security industry, we noticed something even more impressive. The security guards did not take their eyes off the fans regardless of what might be happening behind them. Goal or no goal, they kept scanning.

Executive protection:

Imagine an executive protection agent providing services for a celebrity and trying to live tweet the experience. Like the 2017 Oscar tweeter, protection agents would not last long in that role if they were using social media in tandem with their duties.

Security Planning – Don’t be a Zombie

February 23rd, 2017 Comments off

zombie

Recently I was in London, England for a business travel show on behalf of FocusPoint to speak with travel managers regarding travel security.

After I had checked in at my hotel, I was directed to the elevator. I walked in, and to access my floor, I realized I had to swipe my room key outside of the elevator.

I later went out for the day and returned to the hotel. I decided to take the stairs since I did not have my suitcase this time. The stairs were just across from the card access elevator, and there was no type of security barrier to enter them. I was able to access any floor I wished without swiping my card, showing ID or confirming to anyone that I was a guest.

Security is vital and having a facade of security is dangerous. A security plan with gaps can leave a business or individual open to an undesired incident.

Duty of care is more than going through the motions of creating a security plan that looks good on paper. Plans have to be challenged and tested on a regular basis.

Don’t be a zombie and coast through security planning. Be thorough and detailed.

 

Seguridad en América reconoce a los 100 más influyente/ Seguridad en América recognizes the 100 most influential

January 30th, 2017 Comments off

seguridad

Categories: AFIMAC, Articles, Security Tags:

Peter Martin of FocusPoint International quoted in Sun Sentinel article ‘Fort Lauderdale airport shooting reveals security flaws’

January 19th, 2017 Comments off

sunsentinel

Until he turned his gun on tourists, Esteban Santiago hadn’t broken any laws flying to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport with a semi automatic handgun and bullets.

No rules were bent or ignored, no red flags raised.

Security experts and public officials say the shooting — the first of its kind in America — exposes weaknesses in a system designed to protect travelers on airplanes, but not necessarily in airports.

Until now, no one in America has ever gunned down airport travelers after flying with a checked weapon. But under airline and federal aviation rules, experts say, an airport attack like Santiago’s could easily happen again.

“It’s no more surprising than someone walking up to you on the street and shooting you,” said Jeff Price, an author, security trainer and professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Department of Aviation & Aerospace Science.

Santiago is accused of killing five tourists and injuring six other people in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, after checking only a 9 mm handgun in Alaska and flying one-way across the country to carry out the attack.

Video shows Santiago opening fire in an area where the public can freely come and go without a security check. He told the FBI he emptied one magazine, reloaded and emptied the other, shooting the first people he encountered. Law enforcement officers were about one minute away, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has said.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, airports have been wrapped in a cocoon of safety regulations. That might give travelers a false sense of
security, Price said.

For complete coverage of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, click here.

Travelers can’t take more than 3.4 ounces of shampoo on an airplane; theirbodies are scanned by high-tech machines; their hands are sometimes
swabbed for bomb-making ingredients; and their bags are sniffed by trained German shepherds.

The areas of the terminal beyond the security checkpoint are protected because anything there could end up on a plane. In 2016, 3,391 guns were seized when people tried to carry them onto airplanes in the United States, according to Transportation Security Administration data. Four out of five were loaded.

Yet, the federal government leaves it up to airlines and local or state legislators to set rules for public areas like baggage claim.

In Florida, for example, concealed weapons can’t be carried in airports. But a gun in a case is fine, and people entering the baggage claim area aren’t
screened, anyway.

The policies remain in place even after previous shootings proved airports to be vulnerable. In November 2013, gunman Paul Ciancia took a Smith &
Wesson semi-automatic rifle into a busy terminal at Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire, killing a TSA agent and wounding three others.

Ciancia was not traveling. But no major airline prevents someone from entering with a gun as baggage, checking it and picking it up at the end of a
flight.

Delta spokesman Michael Thomas in Atlanta declined to discuss specifics about the ticket agent’s encounter with Santiago in Anchorage. But in general, he said, a traveler with a gun would approach the airline counter and sign an affidavit declaring the weapon is unloaded.

Following standard procedures, Santiago then would have opened the gun case and placed a Delta bright orange placard inside, declaring “FIREARM UNLOADED.”

The gun must travel in a hard case and must be locked, with only the traveler carrying the key to open it at the destination, according to TSA regulations. The case can be placed inside another piece of luggage, but the federal complaint against Santiago says he checked only the gun box.

The checked gun would be turned over to the TSA to be scanned for explosives, then stowed on the airplane.

Airlines require no gun permit when checking a gun for domestic travel, no proof of gun ownership, and no permit to use the gun in the arrival city or state, Thomas said.

“All these details are applied the same regardless of airline,” Thomas said. “We’re just applying the federal regulations.”

Gun policies posted on domestic airline websites show their rules differ from one another only slightly. Some airlines specify how ammunition is packed or how much it can weigh. Airports, too, generally follow the same guidelines when it comes to travelers with guns. Travelers must heed the gun laws in the states they travel to, but many states honor another state’s gun permits.

Jesse Davis, chief of police at the Anchorage airport, said his agency had no contact with Santiago and detected no sign that he planned violence.

“As far as the question about flying with just a gun case,” the chief wrote in an email, “there would be no way of knowing whether he had a traveling companion and that person had checked luggage under his/her name that belonged to both of them, or whether the other person may be holding onto the carry-on bags while the other traveler is declaring the handgun. So, it would not raise any red flags or warning signs.”

Santiago would have then boarded the flight from far-flung Alaska to balmy South Florida, knowing his Walther 9mm semi-automatic handgun and two magazines were tucked securely aboard.

Barring a baggage mix-up, Santiago could be assured his gun would emerge on the conveyor belt at Fort Lauderdale airport’s Terminal 2, around the lunch hour, as TSA announcements or a welcome message from Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief blared from the speakers.

Retrieving the gun was as easy as plucking it off the baggage belt. The government does not monitor how weapons are returned to passengers at the end of a flight.

“The reuniting of checked baggage with passengers is the responsibility of the airlines,” TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said.

After the shooting on Jan. 6, the broadcast message soon turned dark, with a female voice warning, “There has been a report of an emergency. Proceed calmly to the nearest exit and leave the building immediately.” An alarm sounded as pandemonium broke out.

The shooting has brought new scrutiny to airport security, but one security expert cautioned against focusing on airports, given that the attack could have occurred in any busy place.

“If the person wasn’t able to carry it on the plane, would it have stopped the shooting? No,” said Peter Martin, CEO of the international security firm FocusPoint International and a Plantation resident. “It would have changed the location, for certain. But he’s not going to just go home and watch TV.”

John Parrott, director of the Anchorage airport, said the employees appeared to have gone by the book in Santiago’s case. Whether the rules themselves are adequate, he said, is beyond his purview.

“It appears that in this incident the required procedures were followed,” Parrott said by email. “As to whether or not those processes are adequate, that is part of the national discussion that is taking place.”

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • YouTube