Archive for the ‘Protective Services and Investigations’ Category

Don’t be Late to the Party

October 7th, 2014 Comments off

Are you in the know when it comes to tracking incidents, threats and current events? If you are just following the news – you aren’t. You need to be actively engaged with social media.

Abdulkader Hariri, a Twitter user in the town of Raqqa, tweeted about the US airstrikes on ISIS before it broke on CNN and other major mainstream media. This isn’t the first time the public has beaten the media to the punch either; in fact, it is an ever-growing occurrence. It’s so common, that you’ll often see CNN reference and credit twitter or a specific user for breaking a story.



So what? Well, let’s look at a few examples to illustrate the importance of inheriting real time information.


1. Contract negotiations are underway for a new collective agreement.
a. If you want to pick up on the chatter of your employees, it will be happening on Facebook and Twitter.
b. If union members are planning a protest or rally, it will be talked about on social media before it happens, and by the time the media posts photos of
the protest, its likely you’ll also already know about it.


2. A fire broke out at a large chemical facility surrounded by several other businesses.
a. Images and messages were posted by the public long before the story hit the media and evacuation notices were sent out.
b. The surrounding businesses were able to make quick decisions, efficiently shut down operations and move staff to safe locations.


3. An employee is harassing other workers online, boasting about having stolen merchandise for sale, or posting disparaging remarks about your brand.
a. Tracking of various keywords would alert you to each of the above examples.
- If any of the above became newsworthy, it would be too late for you to intervene most likely (e.g. if an employee attacked a coworker,
reporters would dig into old social media posts to see if there was hints of violent behaviour)


Ultimately, you need to not only be active in social media to further your branding efforts, you also need to watch over the other chatter to have an opportunity to be proactive vs. reactive.


Do I Need Security? Naw, You’re Good

September 9th, 2014 Comments off


While at a conference recently, a speaker was talking about working with the indigenous communities in new mining areas of interest.  The speaker was an expert on indigenous relations in Chile and other Latin American regions, and consulted with companies to streamline operations and build communities.

The panel members were discussing the various elements of operating in Latin America and when a member of the audience asked about security, in Mexico specifically, I was shocked with the response.  The expert on indigenous relations spoke up and suggested that security was not an issue. He continued stating that there were worse areas in Africa where companies operate without issue. The fact that the speaker suggested that security was a non-issue in Mexico is dangerous.

A security assessment should be conducted for any new area that a company plans on beginning operations, even if it’s in the US or Canada. For Mexico, and other countries in Latin America, there are other elements to consider though. What does the political horizon look like currently and in the near future? Are there any cartels or criminal entities operating in the area? Could there be threats from violent extremist organizations? Is the area prone to natural disaster e.g. flooding? Are there suitable areas for expats and their families, etc.?

Failure to ensure that professional audits and contingencies are in place for the security of your people and business can be very costly.

Get an expert opinion, from a security expert.


I Wasn’t Expecting That

August 22nd, 2014 Comments off

Speaking to an events manager on a flight the other day, he was trying to find the humour in losing an item off his trade show table from the conference he just left. It wasn’t a big event, so there was some down time when there were not many attendees circulating. Being the only one working the show, he decided to take advantage when he could, and went out to grab a bite to eat.

When he returned, it was clear that a passerby had helped themselves to some of the free giveaways he had left out on the table. Perfectly fine, as that was what the small items were for. What he hadn’t expected was that the one demo product was also gone. Difficult to say if it was mistaken for a giveaway or not, but regardless, a $3,000 item was gone.

This event manager was not looking forward to explaining this to his manager.

I think the lesson here is that one should never leave anything to chance and I believe that corporations should apply this way of thinking to travel security, workplace violence and any other corporate security precaution.


Has Anyone Told Soccer Players ‘Never Cry Wolf’?

July 8th, 2014 Comments off

I really enjoy watching Euro and World Cup soccer, but the one aspect that really bothers me about the game, is all the drama. Diving and faking an injury is so prevalent that stats are kept on fake ‘injuries’ and ‘writhing time’.


Brazil tops the list for this World Cup so far, and here is where ‘never crying wolf’ potentially came back to haunt Brazil’s top player, Neymar. Late in the game against Chile, Neymar took a brutal knee to his back (see the images and gifs here). He went down in pain, but displayed the same grimace he has many times before, so maybe it was initially dismissed as another dramatic dive.

“The Team Most Commonly Seen in Anguish: Brazil. There were 17 incidents in two games when a member of the Seleção was seen on the ground in pain—the most of any country. World Cup poster boy Neymar had five such “injuries,” the most on his team. In every case he was back on his feet within 15 seconds.” – The Wall Street Journal

Seeing the replay, I could tell that this looked like a real injury and was aghast of how the medical staff simply threw Neymar onto a stretcher, and jogged him off the field, bouncing and shaking along the way. Neymar had a fractured vertebra. Although I’m not a medic, I believe more care should have been taken getting him off the field. Again, possibly the seriousness of his injury wasn’t recognized, thinking it was play-acting to work precious time off the clock.

Then there is the opposite of never crying wolf that my AFIMAC colleagues and I consistently hear related to travel security. Companies that don’t want to acknowledge there is a wolf looming.

“We don’t want executive protection while our partners are touring our facility, so they don’t think safety is an issue.”

“We do not want to be seen as alarmists.”

“If we have protective drivers, some may think the area is unsafe.”

Well, if an AFIMAC expert is suggesting security – it’s needed. Security should not be reactive, and although you may never realize the ROI on proactive security, it’s worth it to protect your people and property. Avoid a robbery, kidnapping or worse.

Don’t let your duty of care take a dive.


Are Soccer Goalies Useless?

July 8th, 2014 Comments off

A giant net, but the only equipment they are given is abnormally sized gloves making them look like Mickey Mouse. USA goalie Tim Howard may have a strong argument that goalies aren’t useless after his record breaking sixteen saves against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

But why are goalies often seen yelling at their defense after each saved shot? Well, because they are supposed to defend and not let many shots through on target. A clear shot on net typically has a high percentage of hitting the back of the net.

For protection details during the World Cup, AFIMAC agents ensure clients reach stadiums seamlessly, or what looks to be seamless from the client’s perspective. But AFIMAC’s agents have a team supporting them. AFIMAC operation’s staff conducts pre-trip research, maps out A, B & C routes in case of road closures and checkpoints, and sends lead motorcycles ahead to scout out protests or washed out roads.

This is most definitely a team effort.

Are soccer goalies useless? No, but they are definitely stronger when every other moving part of a team is working well together.


Dear criminals and terrorists,

May 9th, 2014 Comments off

Yes criminals – security is often a reactive thought.  You bypassed a home alarm, so the owner went out and got a dog.  You robbed an employee in a company’s parking lot, so they got better lighting and cameras.  You managed to carjack an executive in a taxi leaving an airport in Brazil and took their valuables, so the company implemented a mandatory ‘no city taxi’ rule, ensuring everyone used a well-trained protective driver in LATAM.

Well terrorists, it’s not much different with you either. Security also becomes tighter after an incident, but additionally it encourages something else - unity.  After New York, multiple incidents in the air, Boston, and other terroristic attempts, people were expected to cower in fear, which was your goal, no?  Instead, an even taller building was built, passengers now ban together to take down anyone acting inappropriately during a flight, and the world united to support a marathon.

All I can say is quit it. You’re only making things worse for yourself.

And BTW, we’re all getting better at having contingency plans and being proactive with security.



Mugging On Live TV

April 11th, 2014 Comments off

We always tell clients to play down their personal wealth when travelling, to avoid becoming a target.  This poor lady isn’t even wearing anything that would be considered flashy, but it goes to show how brazen the crime can be in Brazil.

The fact that it is daylight, with a live camera rolling didn’t faze this crook.


Hit By a Car – I Saw it Coming

April 9th, 2014 Comments off

There is a lot to watch out for and think about in ‘the big city’.  Whether someone is driving or walking, they have to be cognoscente of other cars or pedestrians, traffic signals, construction zones, potholes or cracks, and a host of other obstacles.

While driving into the city for an early meeting, I was doing my best to keep all of the above in mind.  Whenever I turned left at a light, I still checked to make sure the cars that received a red light didn’t try and run it.  Legally, it was my turn, but I wasn’t about to trust that a rushed or distracted driver wouldn’t try.  Sure, I’d win the ‘right of way’ case, but I’m still not putting my safety on the line, when it takes a millisecond to glance side to side.

Not everyone governs himself or herself the same way.  This was the case for a pedestrian that I witnessed getting hit by a car.

If you have a security consultant vs. an expert, you’ll notice a difference.  If a consultant is building a contingency plan for an active shooter, work stoppage or travel security plan, do you sit back in your office, and let them put it together without your input?  I’d hope not, because ‘cookie-cutter’ plans don’t cut it.  Let’s use the travel security plan as an example.  If you have colleagues traveling to LATAM, only you know the intricate details related to your business, industry and potential habits of your colleagues.

The security expert will be able to offer solid plans on the areas to avoid, safest routes from the airport to the hotel and meetings, best areas for dining, and offer tips on how not to be a target.  Most importantly, the expert will ensure your involvement in the planning process.

You know your employees and company culture better than an outsider.  You would know that one of your colleagues loves sports memorabilia, and may dash out of the hotel unscheduled looking for a sports shop.  Or you would know if a colleague has a medical condition, so prescription and medical device information needs to be included in the plan.

The person I saw get hit by a car didn’t collaborate to ensure their safe travel.  Walking along the sidewalk, the pedestrian was approaching a street crossing, where the car in front of me had to make a right turn on.  Without looking for turning vehicles, the pedestrian continued their pace and stepped right off the curb, into the path of the car in front of me.  The driver either wrongly assumed they had the right of way or was distracted.

The driver slammed on their brakes and hit the pedestrian, albeit barely, because the person jumped to avoid the impact.  The pedestrian was fine, and continued on their way with only a few disgusted facial expressions for the driver.  Lucky for both, it was a minor incident.

Don’t be that pedestrian.  Don’t simply rely on a consultant.  Collaborate with an expert, and involve yourself in the planning of your colleagues’ or family’s safe travel and ensure duty of care.


Your Business Should be Yellow

February 27th, 2014 Comments off

I was driving my kids to school this morning and passed an almost unmarked police car.  I say almost because the car was grey and all of the decals were also grey.  So it was unmarked, until you were close.

I explained to my kids why a police car would want to be in disguise.  I said to catch bad guys, simply.  And that it’s not as easy to run up and catch on those doing bad if they see you coming.  Then I asked them what colour they thought police cars used to be when I was their age.  After naming almost every other colour, they finally got to yellow. The colour that folks doing bad loved.  They would stop whatever crime they were in the middle of doing, watch the police cruiser go by, then go back to no good.

At some point, the police shifted their focus from standing out for people who needed assistance, to being covert and catching bad folks.

What is best for a business though?  Go yellow!  Unless you are in the business of catching bad people, you need to operate all areas of your business as a deterrent.

  • Your parking lot should be well lit for staff arriving early or leaving late
  • Your executives travelling into LATAM should have protective drivers
  • Facilities should have visible security cameras
  • Display signs that you are using Smartwater CSI to protect and track your cargo

If you experience internal theft, drug use or workplace bullying after putting deterrents in place, hire an undercover investigator to expose the staff responsible, then press charges.  That will get passed as gossip and be a deterrent to any other employees.


When You’re Given Lemons, Make Snake Pizza?

February 6th, 2014 Comments off


We’re all familiar with the term ‘When you’re given lemons, make lemonade’, but a pizza restaurant in Fort Myers has taken it a step further.   They call it Everglade Pizza.

Wildlife officials in Florida are trying to cope with the insurgence of snakes, specifically Burmese Pythons, so they are being hunted to protect the nature preserve.  Evan Daniell, the owner of ‘Evan’s Neighborhood Pizza’ in Fort Myers came up with the idea to take advantage of the over abundance.  Use the snake meat on pizza.

Maybe not your style, but what lesson can we take from Mr. Daniell?  What aspects related to your work routine could you use to your advantage?

I have a personal example.  There was a demonstration at one of our clients corporate buildings, with approximately twenty demonstrators.  AFIMAC deployed security and kept the demonstration in order, without incident.

The demonstrators didn’t only cause issue at the corporate location though.  They yelled at passing cars, entered other local businesses and caused a general disruption in the area.  They did this with the hope of giving our client a bad image.

I went around to each business in the area personally, introduced myself, explained what our client’s industry was, why there were protesters, and explained what contingencies AFIMAC had in place.  I also explained AFIMAC’s other services when asked.

It resulted in one business relationship for our client with one of their neighbours, and two new clients for AFIAMC services.

Hey, I’d rather have lemons than snake on pizza, but you catch my rational, I’m sure.

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