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About EPS

residency-investigation photo

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 651

residency-investigation photoOver the past several years there has been a clear increase in school districts focusing on residency investigations. This year alone, my company will complete over 100 residency investigation cases within several school districts. These school districts hire private investigators to collect evidence on students who are suspected of living outside the district – so are therefore illegally enrolled in their school. If the investigators can prove a student lives outside the school district, then the school can drop them from their rolls. This benefits the district because it’s one less student they must pick up the tab for. Although most people would agree that every child deserves the best education available, it’s difficult for districts to accommodate schoolchildren from outside of the district and still ensure enough resources for the tax paying families.

On average, public elementary and secondary school districts in the United States pay about $15,000 per student, so spending a few thousand dollars on an investigation to remove a falsified student from their roster is a good return on investment. Although, a school district would have to remove a lot of unlawful students to measurably affect the bottom line, it’s still a smart strategy to enforce residency rules because it acts as a deterrent. It’s likely that the more a school district makes people aware that private investigators have been hired to guard against residency scams, the more offenders may decide not to risk it.

For years, school districts have used a variety of staff to monitor potential fraud, including: registrars, social workers, attendance and truancy officers, and even high level school officials. In my direct experience as a detective, I’ve found that sources such as state and federal investigative databanks can suggest where someone may be living – but the only way to actually prove residency is through surveillance observation. This means your best residency enforcement solution is to hire a private investigation firm to focus exclusively on fraud, so the school administrators can focus on education and daily operations as intended. An investigator can often work on several cases in a day to create efficiencies and keep cases moving. On average, a residency investigation requires from 4 to 60 investigative hours to gather enough evidence for a provable court case. The average rate for a licensed private investigator is from $90 to $125 per hour.

These trained professionals use tested and proven surveillance techniques to establish a pattern, specialized gear, and database research software that allows access to a host of public records to accurately determine where families actually reside. After gathering key evidence, the deliverable is a comprehensive court-ready report including: times, dates, records and photos that helps the district win their residency fraud cases.

Although residency fraud is wrong, expensive and unfair to taxpayers, many people still view district lines as an obstacle to educational opportunity and therefore don’t want their schools to prosecute these less fortunate families. The good news is, that typically the district’s first action is to send a written notification explaining that their student has been unenrolled due to fraudulent residency claims. If the family pushes back, the district further states that they could be held financially responsible for the money the school has lost. Generally, the family has no choice but to return to their own school district.

My company’s residency investigations business model is unique, because we provide the district with a dedicated Investigative Coordinator, rather than just a single investigator. The benefit of a coordinator is that they have the full power of our security company’s infrastructure, relationships and assets behind them, which allows them to navigate any investigative related challenge. The coordinator has several experienced private detectives on-call and oversees the entire investigation process from the initial intake of the case information to the final thorough report. In addition, we keep all case information and the final report on file in a secure database for future reference.

 

Run Hide Fight

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 689

Run Hide FightAs of early August 2019, there have been 255 mass shootings in the U.S. It’s hard not to become numb to the violence or the fact that we’re no longer completely safe at our schools, malls, concerts, churches or place of employment. If we’re not mindful, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the hate and violence that causes our fear and anxiety. Although the chances that you will be a victim of a mass shooting are low, the more prepared you are, the better your chances of survival in a worst case scenario. Although, there will never be a “one size fits all” rule for active shooters, I tell my loved ones to “run, hide, fight” because it’s easy to teach, remember and understand.

RUN away from the shooter

If you become aware of a shooter or hear gunfire, your best chance of survival is to try to escape. Whether you’re in familiar surroundings or a new location, take a few minutes to note the nearest exits. When possible, take the stairs instead of the elevators and remember that windows can also be used to escape. Students at Virginia Tech escaped the gunman in 2007 from a second-floor window. If you believe you could possibly be in the line of fire while you’re running, zigzag from cover to cover so you’re a harder target to hit.

Do not pull the fire alarm because it causes confusion and may send people out into open areas, where they could be easier targets. Instead, yell “gun” or “shooter” to inform people it’s not just a drill. Find out who the security director is at your school or work and ask them about active shooter drills, lockdowns and evacuations.

HIDE, if you can’t escape

If you cannot escape, attempt to hide anywhere there is a door. Lock or barricade the door to help deter access. Consider that office walls are often made of thin drywall, so if you can hide in a room that has an outside wall or no windows, you’ll be safer. If there’s no time to find a room with a door, hide under your desk. Your goal is to remove yourself from the shooter’s line of sight.

Do not play dead, because shooters have been known to come back and fire into wounded people. However, a teacher at Sandy Hook remained still after being shot and then escaped when the shooter left the area. Also, a student at Virginia Tech was shot while trying to escape but kept running and survived. The most important thing is to get yourself away from the shooter!

Once you’ve found a hiding place, turn off lights and call 911 to explain what’s happening. Then, mute your phone and be as quiet as possible, but leave your cell phone on so the dispatcher can continue to hear what’s going on. Stay low, but do not laydown, because that would make it harder to attack the shooter if he finds your hiding place. Remember that social media could give away your hiding place or alert the shooter to the location of the police.

 FIGHT as a last resort

Experts agree that confronting a shooter should be a last resort because most people do not have the proper training to have a good chance at stopping a gunman. Your only option is to find some type of object to use as a weapon against the shooter. Although a broom stick, coffee pot, baseball bat, scissors, hammer or chair may be the only weapons at hand, no level of force is inappropriate when it comes to saving lives.

It’s disheartening to think that although recent polls show at least 70% of Americans want common sense gun laws – less than 10% believe their representatives will do anything about it. In my view, when our representatives begin to remember that their job is to represent their constituents, instead of the big businesses who fund their campaigns, we’ll have a safer country. All we can do right now is educate ourselves on gun violence, stay vigilant and call our state representatives to lobby for faster change regarding gun control.

 

 

 

 

hate crimes

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 669

hate crimesTechnology has inadvertently connected us all to a nonstop stream of customized news and social media, creating a tsunami of easily shared misinformation and propaganda in the form of videos, posts, memes and tweets. Recent data shows that Facebook and YouTube struggle to monitor and remove the recruiting efforts of online domestic extremists and foreign terrorists. Add a perpetual “us versus them” narrative to a lot of the media we consume, and you have a recipe for anxiety and fertile ground for the seeds of hate. Just add water.

It’s no wonder that my company receives hundreds of calls each year from religious, scientific, research, or educational nonprofit organizations requesting solutions to their growing security concerns. According to the Hate Crime Statistics Act passed by Congress in 1990, hate crimes are characterized as “crimes that show evidence of intolerance based on religion, disability, sexual orientation, race, gender, or ethnicity.” Hate crimes are committed against people, property or society, and can involve violent attacks, theft, arson and vandalism. The most recent data available from the FBI reported 7,175 occurrences of hate crimes in 2017 which is a 17% increase from the prior year, and an uptick for the last three years. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups in the U.S. is the highest in 20 years.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep us all up at night, consider that shootings are a daily occurrence in the United States, https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting. It stands to reason that the more a nonprofit matches a specific hate category – the more of a target they become for planned, politically inspired violence by domestic extremists and foreign terrorists. We tend to think of hate groups as neo-Nazis, white supremacists, black nationalists or neo-Confederates, but there’s no shortage of narrow-minded groups who blame “the other” instead of looking deeply at the root cause of their own suffering.

As a result, nonprofit stakeholders are looking for new and creative ways to protect their people and property while creating a welcoming environment where people aren’t scared to attend an educational program, cultural event or place of worship. The challenge is that non-profits often don’t have the budget they need to implement a meaningful security strategy. Below, I present 7 tested and proven ideas to raise funds and enhance security for your nonprofit.

7 Ideas to Raise Funds for Nonprofit Security

  1. Launch a security themed fundraising campaign to raise money for additional protective measures or meet with your top 10 donors and ask for a large gift.
  2. Establish a per person security fee, add a security surcharge, or mandate a minimum security donation.
  3. Apply for federal security grants available to nonprofits. Experts agree there will be a record number of applicants for the $60 million in available federal security grants. Professional grant writers are readily available.
  4. Replace a traditional receptionist with a trained security officer who can perform greeter and administrative duties.
  5. Professionally train volunteers or selected congregation members most suited to assist with security responsibilities.
  6. Ask local law enforcement to perform a vulnerability assessment of your place of worship and make more frequent patrol checks to augment your security.
  7. Create a consortium of local nonprofits to share the cost of security such as: handheld metal detectors, roving security guard patrols, radio communications, professional crisis training, etc.

Understand that these radical extremists are looking for an easy target where they can do the most damage and get the maximum media attention. So, when they see any type of visual deterrent, like a uniformed security guard on patrol or an access control system that may slow them down – they’ll think twice and often move on to a softer target. Although the state of our union shows reason for legitimate concern, the threat level of your nonprofit can be lessened by taking action. We suggest a skilled vulnerability assessment, timely implementation of the most efficient security solutions, trained security officers, and staff training that cultivates vigilant situational awareness.

 

hidden security costs

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 702

low cost security providersOne of the biggest problems businesses face is competition from low-cost providers. A low cost provider is a business that charges the lowest price it can, while promising about the same quality so that it can draw customers to the market. What they do not tell you, is why their product or service costs so much less than their competitors. The reason, of course is that they deliver poor quality, less service and cut corners wherever possible – even if it’s borderline dishonest or unethical. Sooner or later, customers come to realize the difference in value and begin to look for a new provider. In the security industry, hiring a low cost security provider based only on price very often translates to customer dissatisfaction, including:

  • No security guard vetting, training or certifications
  • No GPS verification of hours and incorrect invoicing
  • Unreliable guards who are consistently late, leave early or call out
  • No officer patrol reporting or documentation software
  • No written security guard protocols or directives
  • No on-site security guard supervision or discipline
  • Lack of proper insurance coverage or licenses to operate
  • Unprofessional guards in untidy uniforms
  • No business infrastructure for Operations, Finance, Sales or HR
  • Poor customer service

This absence of best practices has an overall negative impact on the entire security industry.  The clients are dissatisfied and aggravated, security providers get a bad reputation, fair market industry rates decline, good companies cannot make a fair profit, security and safety are compromised and liability increases for everyone involved. Many low-cost security providers carry much less overhead, because they’re generally owned by some type of career law enforcement officer who has recruited a few of his retired colleagues and operates the business from a small home office with little more than a book keeper and perhaps a salesman. These small companies typically have a lot of security know-how, but very little business experience, funding, or ability to scale up according to client demands.

In contrast, the best-cost provider strategy relies on offering customers better value by focusing both on fair pricing and a full-service infrastructure that’s able to deliver measurable results. Statistically only 500 security companies in the United States generate $5,000,000 or more in annual revenue and I’m pleased to count Echelon Protection & Surveillance among them.

As a business owner, I understand that controlling expenses is a key component of profitability. However, when it comes to security guard services, what may appear to be a savings that improves the bottom line – is also be a hidden liability waiting to happen. Although a basic low cost uniformed guard may act as a good visual deterrent, it is no substitute for a reliable security presence trained to respond appropriately to a real challenge, emergency, crisis or hazard. Remember, that if something goes wrong, everyone and anyone involved may be sued – and that can be a long, stressful and expensive process.

We’ve all seen the news videos of security guards making poor decisions, hesitating to engage, or worse, running the other way when a problem arises.  If you’re the final decision maker regarding security services, I urge you to take the time to perform your due diligence and consider your real risk and return on investment. The last thing you want is a high profile crisis that damages your business, a negligence law suit, or your boss challenging your judgment.

Crime in the United States is usually split into two broad classifications, violent crime and property crime. Although violent crimes steal the headlines, non-violent property crime is currently the leading problem afflicting the United States by a large margin. However, in today’s environment of civil unrest, easy access to firearms and misinformation… everyone should take public and private security seriously. As in any good relationship, you should be striving for a partnership where both parties mutually benefit. Meaning, the client enjoys peace of mind knowing that their people are safe and their property is secure, and the security provider is allowed to make a fair profit so they can continue to grow and provide the high value services. As the great Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Week's-Marine-Supervisor-1

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 641

Week's-Marine-Supervisor-1One of the most important components of a well-run security company is the supervision of the officers on duty. Whether you’re in the public or private sector, it’s the supervisors that provide the hands-on quality control that keep your site running smoothly. If your security partner hasn’t invested in regional supervisors, you can be sure that your guard performance will suffer. The best security firms maintain a layered approach to guard performance that incorporates professional training, officer reporting software, GPS tracking and consistent supervision. Below are the key responsibilities of a supervisor.

Planning – A supervisor will often do the strategic planning for the security at your location. This may include: choosing the right guards, deciding where they’ll be posted, developing a site map, writing protocols, coordinating with local law enforcement and communicating with the client to be sure everyone’s on the same page.

Preparation – In the chain of command, supervisors report to the Director of Operations. As part of the team, supervisors are responsible for making sure the guards have everything they require to succeed in their duties according to protocols and expectations. They study the site footprint, develop site maps, determine areas of vulnerability, post scan tags for patrols, and secure equipment such as radios, deterrent signage and lock boxes needed for the job.

On-Site Training – As the person most familiar with the site, a supervisor’s responsibilities frequently include the on-site training of new guards. It is standard operating procedure for the supervisor to meet the guard(s) on or before the first day of the job to review security protocols, answer questions, communicate client expectations and even coordinate with local law enforcement. Supervisors spend as much time on location as needed to make sure the guards are on point and the client is satisfied.

Administration – Once a new client is up and running, the supervisor begins focusing on the quality control aspects of the job, such as time clock check-in and check-out, verifying guard location via GPS, client communication, scheduling changes, reviewing daily officer reports and overseeing shift changes. All information is documented and reported to the Director of Operations and Human Resources so they can evaluate the guard’s overall security performance.

Field Inspections – Remote locations, long hours or overnight shifts are a recipe for security guards to become bored or fatigued…no matter how good their intentions are. However, if a guard knows that their boss tends to show up randomly, they’re more likely to stay on their toes. These surprise inspections are important to either correct bad habits or simply bring the guard doughnuts and coffee to let them know they’re a valued team member.

Customer Service – When a client hires a security firm, there’s an implied guarantee that they will provide solutions with a certain level of urgency. In general, if the guard can’t solve the problem through their training or directives, they’ll report it to the supervisor who has access to the full assets of the security company at his disposal.

Discipline – In many respects, supervisors are the eyes and ears of the company. They work with the guards to improve their performance and relay guard input back to operations. In this way, the company has the front line information it needs to help them make more informed decisions. Guards who consistently demonstrate reliability and professionalism receive commendations and pay increases, while those who do not meet expectations receive documented corrective guidance. Since the security company and the guard have a mutual investment in each other, it benefits everyone to work together to keep the clients people and property safe in any situation.

As you can see, a great supervisor is not only the eyes and ears of the operations team, but the day to day grease and glue that provides the quality control that clients expect of professional security firm.

Event security

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 497

Event securityWhen you consider the variety of assets and organizations it takes to put on a successful event – it’s almost like managing a small town.

Our security firm has built a solid reputation in event security. Over the last 18 years we’ve had the opportunity to provide security and event staffing for such prominent events as: the NFL Draft, Democratic National Convention, NJ Renaissance Fair, Country Spirt Music Festival, Philadelphia Love Run, Made In America, Philly Fashion Week, and the Atlantic City Iron Man Triathlon. This year alone, we’ll provide security for over 100 events in the tristate area.

Providing security for events like these involves careful planning, scheduling, site mapping, transportation, equipment, directives, site visits, coordination with law enforcement and various other event related organizations.

Depending on the venue location, type of activity, amount of days and number of attendees, each event will have different challenges. As an example, while some events may need security guards trained in ID access control, first aid, and alcohol management, others may require metal detection and personal protection. At smaller venues, a professional security guard presence alone may be enough to deter unwanted or illegal activity. This is why security officers are often posted in areas where they’re highly visible and have the best ability to observe, report, and if necessary – intervene.

The best security firms learn from their missteps, by taking the time to debrief after each event. These reviews are used to explore what went well, and where improvement is needed. When a security company is responsible for thousands of people’s safety, stakeholders must be certain security is prepared for any contingency. Over time, these protocols become standard operating procedure in order to minimize risk and maximize enjoyment.

For larger events, there are dozens of details and logistics to consider because of all the player’s involved: Promoters, event planners, tour directors, staffing, transit, associations, media, businesses, institutions, venue managers, hospitality services, unions, retailers, law enforcement, emergency medical services and security firms.

Although public mass shootings are only a small segment of our country’s gun related deaths, they are very distressing to event planners, patrons, sponsors and security firms, because these shootings happen randomly in the most ordinary places. Based on recent shootings at national events, only the top 500 security companies have the infrastructure, technology and training to keep everyone safe at larger events.

If you want peace of mind at your next event, take the time to communicate anticipated concerns to your security partner, and don’t settle for just “a security guard.” The objective is to find guards with the right experience, temperament and skills to fit your brand personality. The biggest vulnerability to any event is not unknown outside elements, but rather hiring the wrong security guards.

Be aware that no amount of training or planning is foolproof. However, knowledge is power, so the more information that a security company has prior to the event, the more prepared you’ll be for any incident, crisis or emergency.

How to choose a security guard company

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 817

How to choose a security guard companyUnderstanding the industry

The U.S. Department of Labor statistics reports that there are over 1.1 million private security guards in the U.S. working within about 10,000 companies. The exact numbers are hard to determine because the industry standards vary nationally. Some states mandate unarmed and armed security guard licenses and others do not. In states that don’t, the individual security companies are responsible for vetting and training their own guards. For instance, in Pennsylvania, a person with a private detective’s license hires security guards to work under their license. In New Jersey, each guard must obtain their own license to be certified as a security guard. In addition, a national security company doesn’t need a license to operate in every state, they only need a relationship with a state licensed security company to do business in that state. The better you understand the security industry, the more informed your decision will be when hiring a security partner.

Choosing the right security partner

The key to finding the right security partner is to consider what services you’ll require, and communicate those needs or concerns to your perspective security partner so they can develop a solution. Will you need unarmed guard who can interact with the public or an unarmed overnight patrol guard with technical abilities? Should they be bilingual or have any special training or certifications such as first aid, management of aggressive behavior, or access control? Should the guard wear a uniform as a visual deterrent or be casually dressed to fit your brand. The possibilities are many, but the more you consider what you’ll need, the better they can provide the right security solution. If you’re unsure of what you may need, start with asking if the security company has direct experience working in your industry.

How you know if guards are doing their job?

Most security companies sell themselves as having experienced guards that will be on-time, stay alert, and respond appropriately when an incident occurs. However, how do you know what your guards are doing when you’re not watching them? The solution is a GPS based guard reporting technology that verifies check-in/check-out, and documents patrols and duties so you know exactly what you’re paying for. Technology like this should be standard with any reputable security company, and it gives the client the ability to track guard activity, confirm billing hours, and protects against liability.

What’s a consolidator?

In the security industry it’s common practice for large companies to outsource their work to smaller regional companies. The consumer thinks they’ve contracted a regional security guard provider, but they’ve actually hired a national security guard “consolidator.” Here’s how it works: When you call for local service, their telemarketers quickly contact several security companies in your region to try to cover your request. Consolidators make their money on volume by marking-up the price of the companies they use to fulfill your request. Using a consolidator effects the quality of service because they’re often not familiar with the security companies they’re outsourcing to. Their entire business model is telesales and paperwork. To determine if you’re speaking with a consolidator, ask them if they outsource to other security companies. If they say yes, ask them how long they’ve been working with the company providing your guard services and how those guards are trained.

The right size means the right service.

As with service providers in any industry, size is important. If you’re security partner is either too big or too small, customer service may become an issue. Although the big boys can provide a range of professional services, they often fall short on personal attention and responsiveness, because you’re just one of a thousand clients. At small security companies you’re important because you’re one of 25-50 clients, so you’ll often have access to the owners or decision makers. However, these smaller companies very often lack organizational infrastructure, so they struggle with basic back office operational challenges such as answering phones, invoicing and guard recruiting.

Rates and terms of agreement

Respectable security companies will ask you the right questions and then suggest the proper services and hourly rates. Fees are based on standard hourly rates that vary based on factors such as: type and level of service, response time, location, length of job, risk or known threat.

Ask for references

When it comes to hiring a security firm, it pays to do your homework. A security partner is like a walking, talking insurance policy. So, take the time to research several companies, review their websites, and contact your top three. Start by asking if they’re licensed, bonded and insured. Then, inquire about their services, infrastructure, and experience in serving your industry. Lastly, request a list of client references and speak with at least 3. The right company will take the time to meet with you to discuss your needs, provide insights and review your final security agreement until you’re satisfied.

 

Uniformed EPS guards

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 489

Uniformed EPS guardsSecurity guards are seen by many owners as a substantial business expense. But this is the wrong way to look at it. Rather than an expense, security guards are an investment in your business. That’s because security guards can save businesses money in a lot of different ways. The truth is that virtually any business could see an increase in their bottom line if they employed one or a team of security guards. Here’s why security guards are worth the money.

They create a better, more profitable environment

When people feel safe in a store or office, they are more likely to come to that store and they are more likely to work harder or spend more money. Security guards offer both offices and retail stores this benefit. When security officers patrol your offices, employees feel safe coming to work. When security officers patrol stores, customers know they will be safe shopping there and will be protected if something happens.

Reduce damage and vandalism

One large, inconvenient expense for both offices and stores occurs when property is damaged by vandalism. When a workplace or a retail store gets vandalized, it is important that everything is replaced and repaired immediately to reduce negative impacts on the business. No one wants to spend money in a vandalized shop or do business with a firm in a vandalized office. A security system comprised of both security guards and surveillance cameras is an excellent way to remove the threat of vandalism completely. With your business monitored day and night, vandals won’t have a chance to damage your property.

Fewer unaccounted for products

Shoplifting is a huge problem for stores that do not have a sufficient security presence. Of course, the risk of shoplifters can never be eliminated completely, but when you have both security guards and CCTV cameras in operation, thieves have very little chance to successfully make off with your goods. That means fewer lost products and more sales.

Increased security

In the same vein as the previous point, security guards can also eliminate the possibility that stores or offices are robbed. Businesses that hold large amounts of cash on-site are prime targets for would-be criminals, and thefts can result in big losses. A strong security presence is often enough to discourage thieves. And armed security guards can neutralize a thief, should one try to perpetrate a crime regardless.

Not just any security guard will save you money, however. If you are serious about increasing the safety and security of your business — and seeing an increase in profits as a result — then you need to take time to make sure that you only hire experienced and well-trained security officers. This means speaking to a number of highly rated security service providers like Echelon Protection & Surveillance. Call our team today at 610 831 0277 for a free consultation to discuss your security plan.

Pope Mobile

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 614

Pope MobileIf you’re a successful individual, it means you’ve undoubtedly taken some calculated risks in your career. You had a goal, did your due diligence, developed a plan, considered your return on investment, and then executed your plan. Of course, when it comes to a person’s well-being, the risk equation changes because no amount of success is worth their physical safety. Therefore, if someone has reason to believe that they or their loved ones are vulnerable, they will take the precautions necessary to mitigate that risk or threat until it has been resolved. One such solution is hiring personal protection.

My security company gets several calls every week from businesses or private individuals who have received credible threats or perceive a risk from clients, employees, spouses or family members. They call requesting protection solutions from volatile ex-husbands or uncles who want to ruin a wedding, patients who threaten doctors, defendants intimidating prosecuting attorneys, fear of retribution from disgruntled employees, and high profile executives, celebrities or dignitaries who hire protection for home, office or travel, or simply for their own peace of mind.

Personal protection units are comprised of highly trained, vetted and insured professionals who often have state or federal law enforcement, military, intelligence or investigative experience. In order to protect their clients effectively, they work in teams of at least two, because the situation often calls for a range of skilled services performed in unison. These services may include: advanced planning, background checks, protection directive, emergency protocols, location sweeps, patrol routes, travel itinerary, vehicle transport, covert communications, and concierge-like customer service.

Although the type and degree of risk varies greatly based on the industry, demographics and other factors, below are my top reasons why people hire personal protection:

  • You have a high level of public exposure. Executives, politicians, dignitaries, celebrities, athletes, professionals, activists, and their loved ones are all at more risk than the average person, especially if they are regularly in the public eye.
  • You have a high net worth. In an increasingly interconnected world, it is easier than ever to find out how much someone is worth through public records, news articles or corporate annual reports. If you are known to be wealthy, own a business or even appear to be wealthy, you could be vulnerable at your home or office.
  • You have received threats of any kind. If you or your loved ones start receiving threats, whether in person or electronically, your life can quickly become very stressful. The rule of thumb is to take every threat, no matter how casual or seemingly ridiculous, seriously. Often a few days or weeks of protection and surveillance is all that’s needed until the risk has subsided.
  • You have a business or provide services in high crime areas. If you work within, or travel to high crime areas, you’re statistically more likely to be targeted for theft or violence. This might include professions such as a traveling nurse who may carry prescription medicines, or a traveling salesperson with valuable merchandise.

In my experience, the need for personal protection can arise at any moment, so it’s wise to stay informed of your options, including: private investigations, surveillance cameras, access control and alarm systems, trained drivers or armed and unarmed security guards. Depending on the level of security that you require, the cost of personal protection will vary, but services are available for as little as one day to 24/7 coverage. Like Echelon, most security companies are glad to have a private consultation and provide guidance at no charge.

Learn more about Echelon’s Executive Protection Division at https://www.epsagents.com/services/personal-protection/ or call (610) 831-0277 and speak with James Dambach, our VP of Executive Protection.

door_guard_2

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 884

door_guard_2As a former Social Studies Teacher, Juvenile Probation Officer, 2nd Amendment supporter, NRA member and security company owner, my opinion on the nationally debated topic of arming classroom teachers is based on more than 40 years of professional and personal experience.

Recently, a program to train and arm school staff members in nearby Tamaqua School District, in Schuylkill County, Pa. has been put on hold as two lawsuits against the school district make their way through the court system.

While school districts in other parts of the country have already adopted armed educator programs, the Tamaqua School District would have been the first one in my state. I can’t think of a more opportune time to voice my opinion on arming public school teachers.

Bluntly stated, I’m against it.

Gun violence in our country is at epidemic proportions and active shooters are a symptom of that problem. We all agree that increased campus security is greatly needed, but turning teachers into armed officers is a recipe for continued heartbreak. The best answer to combat school shootings is to have members of the local police department in every school. Besides having an armed, highly trained law enforcement professional on patrol, the social benefits of exposing our youth to positive community role models would be invaluable.

Knowing that the cost for police officers to be in every school would be unsustainable for taxpayers, that leaves us with two basic options: Train and arm the teachers or hire an armed security guard company.  I stand on the side of partnering with an armed security guard company… and here are just a few reasons why.

1.      The arming of teachers in no way replaces a professional security staff as educators with a secured sidearm would be no match for the barrage of an assailants’ semiautomatic rifle. Assuming school budgets and time restraints could provide teachers with adequate weapons training, educators with little or no “immediate back-up” coupled with “inferior firepower” could never replace the proactive duties or immediate response of properly trained and certified security officers.

2.      There is no question that every teacher and student deserves the right to a safe and secure environment in which to learn, but our teachers never signed up for the double duty of educator and armed guard. In fact, national studies suggest that most teachers do not want to carry guns, and would not avail themselves of the option to do so.  This could easily create an imbalanced system where some school teachers are armed, and others must wait for the police to arrive.

Teachers do not want to be security guards, they want to be educators. Professional security guards can maintain an authoritative rapport with students to stay well informed of threats or perspective unwanted behavior. Professional guards also act as good-will builders with responsibilities to assist visitors and help students. Most school shootings are carefully planned, and students can easily find out which teachers are most-likely to be armed. Either way, it means that those teachers become the first targets. In addition, shooters often have experience with their target school and therefor know the layout, bell schedule and access control weaknesses. However, if security guards are posted and follow smart access control protocols, the school becomes a much harder target.

3.      The idea that a shooter would see an armed teacher as a credible threat is incorrect, because in the most recent school mass shootings, the perpetrators were suicidal and ready to die. However, if that shooter knows the school is less vulnerable due to consistent access control lock-down drills, and vigilant armed guards the shooter may choose a softer target. To suggest that we should arm teachers because gun-free zones invite shooters, ignores common sense and research.

4.      Arming teachers creates an increased liability for them, school administration and their school district. Research shows, that individuals who own or have access guns are statistically more likely to have gun-related accidents than use than ever use the gun for self-defense. The same holds true for armed teachers, especially when you considers that a school environment has more opportunities for “incidents and accidents” than private homes. The financial liability to the school alone, makes the idea of arming teachers unrealistic. Add the general lack of school funding and the idea becomes even more untenable. Since all reputable security companies are licensed, bonded and insured, it’s also bad business for a school to spend their limited funds for extra insurance, rather than educational needs.

5.      By arming teachers, we are essentially asking educators to make a choice between securing their students or pursuing the active shooter. A highly trained security officer doesn’t face that moral impasse, because it’s their job to engage the shooter while the teachers safeguard the students.

6.      If you’re a leader in your community, it’s your moral duty to ensure the safety of the students, teachers and visitors in your school district. Please take my advice and follow these simple steps.

1.      Invest in a vulnerability assessment for your campus.

2.      Develop a comprehensive security plan that includes guards and technology.

3.      Hire a reputable security firm to partner with to execute your plan.

4.      School shootings are not an act of sanity.  You can you prepare for irrational behavior by preparation and practice… prepare and practice.

 

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