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ACME Guard_with mask

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 650

ACME Guard_with maskLike most industries around the world, security companies of all sizes are experiencing financial losses as they struggle to navigate the unprecedented business challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, the businesses that used security guards to interact with the public have shut down, while other businesses that use security to patrol buildings, jobsites and campuses have maintained or decreased their security plans during the shutdown. There have also been requests for emergency security services as clients respond to this novel and ever-changing set of circumstances. The increased requests for security services specifically related to the lockdown include but are not limited to:

  • Grocery and wholesale stores that require additional crowd control
  • Shipping warehouses that need employee social distancing enforcement
  • Car dealerships and auto malls that have inventory sitting unprotected
  • Property management and residential groups mitigating civil unrest
  • Cultural and religious institutions that fear panic induced hate crimes
  • Shuttered wholesalers or retailers with valuable merchandise
  • Construction and building companies that require jobsite and equipment watches
  • Healthcare facilities impacted by the pandemic

Whether it’s protecting buildings, equipment, inventory or educating and enforcing social distancing within the public or private sector, many industries may discover a need for security services in this unprecedented international crisis. However, it seems certain that event security will be the last to restart until widespread testing is available. As a result, security companies that specialize in event staffing, access and crowd control for large venues will suffer financially. Smaller events, such as concerts, holiday gatherings, celebrations, festivals, runs and fairs will continue to be cancelled as well.

With so many clients cancelling or postponing services, many companies have had to layoff, furlough or cut salaries in order to survive – causing a lack of security guard availability. This has caught security firm owners in a double-bind of having to reduce staff and expenses, while still maintaining the ability to respond to emergency requests. Due to this shortage of security guards, some corporations have had to rely on “security service consolidators” to provide the coverage they require. Although consolidators can often provide the national coverage chain stores and franchises need, they do so via a network of un-vetted regional security partners which often results in a lack of quality control or supervision.

This day-to-day uncertainty has caused a variety of new human resource and staffing complications for security companies. For instance, many officers who are collecting unemployment compensation, are turning down shift work because they’d rather stay home safe and avoid the risk of becoming infected and exposing their family. Many guards have chosen to take other work to make ends meet and may not return to work after the crisis. Those guards who want to work will require hazard pay and professional personal protection equipment (PPE) such as gloves, face masks and hand sanitizer in order to do their job safely within Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Remember that before Covid-19, unemployment was at a record low and recruiting was the most competitive it has been in decades. As we post this blog, the pandemic has caused over 26 million Americans to lose their jobs, which is more than all the jobs added over the past 10 years. This complete reversal in the job market will make recruiting quality security guards easier going forward.

The best plan of action for security companies is common sense: Stay calm, gather information, be flexible, don’t make rash decisions, communicate with employees, and adhere to state and federal directives in order to make the most informed decisions. Security industry leaders and influencers must look deeply at this national emergency to determine how they can be most effective and helpful, while looking for the hidden business opportunities within this crisis. The best of the best will come through this storm, better prepared for the next security challenge.

Security companies are essential during the Coronavirus crisis.

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 634

usa-flag-mask-with-eagle_blogThe U.S. Government classifies security professionals as essential during the Coronavirus crisis. Not only are security guard firms exempt from state lockdowns but we have a special responsibility to maintain our normal work schedule during this national emergency. In fact, security guard companies like Echelon must play a dual role because we are tasked with continuing to provide security services to our clients while assisting law enforcement in their regional efforts to keep order and flatten the curve of the coronavirus. As the crisis progresses, it’s likely the National Guard will also be deployed to help at hospital sites to prevent panic related unwanted and illegal activity. However, the public and private sector will continue to rely upon security officer firms for guard posts and patrols of essential businesses – as well as those unnecessary businesses, facilities and institutions that must close their doors, leave their jobsite, board-up their building, close their lot or secure their campus.

One of the best ways security companies and their staff can assist during this unprecedented international health crisis is to understand how to identify, protect ourselves and act in response to the virus if we’re exposed. Below are helpful recommendations from the Center for Disease Control for security protocols regarding security guard officers, supervisors and office staff as well as the general public.

  • Know the warning signs and symptoms of the coronavirus. Stay observant in the office, on post and while patrol. Be aware of who you are coming in contact with and watch for signs of exposure. The symptoms of COVID-19 may include a tickle in the throat, a high temperature, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms after exposure can may emerge in 2 -14 days.
  • Protect yourself and colleagues from contact with the coronavirus. Guards should practice social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet away from co-workers and the public – especially those showing virus symptoms. Wash your hands several times per day and try NOT to touch your face. If you have trained EMS or EMT personnel on staff, use them to assess anyone suspected of having the COVID-19 virus. If trained healthcare professionals are not available, security guards should instruct anyone with symptoms to self-isolate and call their physician immediately.
  • Development of a corporate coronavirus plan of action. A companywide plan should include how to limit employee office and jobsite exposure, work space and common area cleaning and fraternization protocols, information sharing regarding best practices, the latest expert health information, projected employee government relief options, as well as who is able to work from home and who is needed in the office for everyday operations.
  • Purchase and use professional protection equipment (PPE) to mitigate exposure: If available, purchase and distribute face masks, disposable gloves, single use coveralls, protective eyewear, hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes for surfaces. Take off security uniform and office clothes and wash them as soon as you enter your home each day to protect your loved ones.
  • If you’re exposed to any individual with COVID-19: Watch yourself for symptoms, clean and disinfect your clothing and gear before you reuse it. Make sure that you document any possible exposure. Self-isolate, consult a doctor, or get tested if you think you may have contracted the virus.

Remember, security professionals are a key component in public safety, helping to combat the coronavirus and keeping your region, community, co-workers and family safe. Eat well, stay hydrated, open windows for fresh air, exercise, get plenty of sleep and shelter in place as much as possible. Although there are still many unknowns, we learn more each day and it is certain that current unprecedented public health measures like social distancing, sheltering in place, and self-quarantine are impermanent.

Let us not forget – we are truly all in this together!



By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 860

caronavirus-blogNew deaths each week, stock market instability and a rate cut by the Fed, means businesses of all kinds should cautiously plan for the overall impact of the coronavirus in the United States. History suggests that big economies like the U.S. are naturally more at risk when people stay home to avoid a virus. It’s not hard to understand that if factories across the globe slow or stop production the supply chain will be disrupted to the point of “supply shock” and lead to a worldwide delay in business. However, we may have more to worry about from the “demand shock” that could develop if people begin to stay home for any extended period of time. No matter the circumstances, the Coronavirus will be contained, run its course and eventually stop. In the next few months we speculate there will be an increased need for security services that protect people and property – while facilities and institutions that temporarily close will employ less security guards until they reopen. Let’s review some key industries and how they could be impacted by the Coronavirus.

Schools are already being temporarily shut down and that means hourly security guards would lose work for an unknown period of time. However, many educational facilities are inquiring about pandemic planning that includes online learning. According to the latest information from health experts, warmer weather may slow the spread of the coronavirus as it does with the seasonal flu.

Construction would likely slow down or see costly delays either because workers are sick or the building materials are not being delivered on schedule. Projects in-progress often have millions in construction materials and equipment on site that will need to be protected for the duration of the delays. A standard “construction watch” could last for months longer than usual if delays become a reality.

Arenas that host concerts, sporting, cultural and entertainment events may be attended less, cancelled or televised without an audience as people choose to avoid unnecessary public interaction for fear of the disease. Professional sports is big business in the U.S. that would effect numerous supporting industries. Access control protocols may start to include mandated hand sanitation stations overseen by security guards. If event, expo and convention centers close down for any period of time, many services that work in tandem with the venue such as food & beverage services, retail, event staff, maintenance crews, parking control and security will be financially effected.

The healthcare industry will suffer as people stop going to their dentist, doctor, the gym or the hospital during an outbreak if a visit isn’t necessary. Health spending is 17% of the U.S. economy. Security companies may see increased requests from health facilities due to long lines, patient stress, unruliness and access control. Infectious disease experts will surely help limit the spread of the virus and work quickly to find a treatment or cure. In addition, many American workers lack paid time off and about 8.5% more don’t have health care coverage. This means people will be less likely to seek proper medical attention or have the financial choice of staying home from work if they’re ill. Going to work when you’re sick is one of the fastest ways the Coronavirus would spread in countries without universal healthcare.

Restaurants could surely experience a drop in business as patrons begin to fear that the cooks, kitchen and wait staff may spread the virus. The restaurant industry makes up a large part of the U.S. gross domestic product. This has already resulted in public panic-buying in some areas as people begin to hoard food, disinfectant products, masks and other perceived necessities. Consumer hoarding is a real problem because it may inadvertently cause actual healthcare workers to go without the basic supplies they need on the front lines.

Retail panic could in-turn spark an increased need for security guards at grocery stores, big box wholesalers and hardware stores. Brick and mortar retail stores are already suffering due to the ease of online shopping. Why take the chance of going to the mall when you have the option of shopping online with no health risk?

The travel, hospitality and tourism industry is already being effected. Americans take about three flights per year on average. Recently, Italy, Iran, China and South Korea were moved into “Warning Level 3” the highest CDC notice level in which travelers are directed to avoid these countries. If travel is absolutely necessary, the CDC advises travelers to speak with their health-care provider regarding best practices. The public and private sector are already postponing and cancelling personal, business and educational trips of all kinds, especially flights and cruises. If this continues, it will have wide reaching effects for retail, hotels, restaurants, rentals, and tourism destinations of all shapes and sizes.

To date, there has been no talk about locking down entire American cities. However, experts are asking citizens in affected areas to practice “voluntary social distancing.” If you own a security guard company, it’s prudent to tell your employees not to come to work sick and provide a paid sick days policy for part time security guards who can’t afford to miss a few days.

2 security agents at basketball game_1

By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 735

2 security agents at basketball game_1As you may know, Pennsylvania has mandated that all schools comply with the new ACT 67 School Security Personnel Law which requires school security guards to complete the Basic School Resource Officer Course of Instruction offered by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) or an equivalent approved by Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). Those currently serving as school security guards must complete training by early 2020 to continue to work at any Pennsylvania school that receives state funding.

Act 67, Senate Bill 621, in the 2019-20 legislative session makes changes to Article XIII-C of the School Code, including changing the title to “School Security.” Most of the changes involve school security personnel, including: school police officers, school resource officers (SROs) and school security guards. Learn more about the new ACT 67 School Security Personnel Law at https://www.psba.org/2019/07/act-67-of-2019-school-security-personnel/

Although all state funded PA schools and associated security guard providers must comply, there are a few perspective challenges to the new ACT 67 School Security Personnel Law that I’d like to share.

The first hurdle is the cost. Training is about $500.00 for a 40 hour class. If a guard is a salaried school district employee, the school would pay for the training as continuing education. However, if the guard is employed by a security guard company, it’s unclear who should pay for the training because the guard is a 1099 independent contractor. In this case, it’s most likely the guard would pay for their own training because the certification benefits them directly in terms of marketability. If the security company invests in the guard training, they take the risk of the guard leaving the company after they’ve been trained.

According to the current law, school guards must be trained within the next 6 months. This means that most districts would have to hire several temporary guards for a week, while their proprietary guards are receiving their 40 hours of training. The best solution would be to schedule guard training during the summer, when most school guards are not working due to summer break. However, the timing of the new law doesn’t currently allow for this type of planning.

Another challenge will be guard call-outs. In the past, if a PA school security guard called out sick or took a PTO day, they could easily be replaced with another guard who had the same basic training and PA mandated vetting, including child abuse, FBI and PA background checks. Now that PA guards must be ACT 67 certified, it will not be easy for schools and security companies to pay $500 for guard training for employees that are only used as a back-up for school call-outs. The district’s only option may be to train a few salaried employees, so someone is always on staff to cover guard call-outs.

Often, new laws of this nature feature some type of built-in exemption, waiver, or grandfather clause which allows similar certifications or training to be accepted. These exceptions create a middle path of compliance until the new law can be fully implemented and all stakeholders are up to speed.

PA counties or townships don’t have the resources to set up a district ACT 67 enforcement process in addition to their current responsibilities. However, no law has teeth unless it includes a mechanism of enforcement. To start, this new ACT 67 School Security Personnel Law must be policed by the school district itself. The only way for the school to comply with the law is to strictly forbid any school security guard to work on campus unless the school district is in possession of every guards training certificate. The school would also be responsible for recertifying each guard as required by the law.

No law will be able to please everyone, but in my opinion, ACT 67 is a good idea, because until now, there was no professional standard for security guard training in PA. Setting guard standards also benefits the security industry as a whole, because it keeps low-cost security providers from selling schools on price instead of safety. There are hundreds of news items each year featuring un-vetted, unqualified security guards who caused problems instead of solving them. If the commonwealth is serious about keeping our students, faculty and staff as safe as possible – certified security guard training is a good common sense way to start.


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

Bouncer-Guard-PhotoSince I founded Echelon in 2001, we’ve provided security guard services for hundreds of clients associated with the hospitality industry. We cover everything from high-end institutions hosting corporate meetings, holiday parties, and galas, to covered establishments like restaurants, bars and nightclubs, to large outdoor events like festivals and concerts. In order to manage client expectations and mitigate liability, we are very clear with our clients regarding what our security guards are responsible for when alcohol management is involved. Often, we must explain that security guards are not bouncers, and lay-out the specific differences between the two. So what is the difference between Security Guards and Bouncers?


A bouncer is often hired directly by a bar, nightclub or other entertainment venue owners to maintain order. Bouncers are useful where clientele or alcohol consumption may result in unwanted or illegal activity that creates an unsafe environment for patrons and staff. A bouncer’s duties may include:

  • Checking for ID to ensure patrons are of legal drinking age
  • Refusing entry to intoxicated patrons
  • Requesting that a patron leave when they’re drunk or disorderly
  • Knowing when to call law enforcement
  • Protecting patrons from harm
  • Using appropriate force to defend themselves

By law, a bouncer can physically engage or restrain a person as long as it’s in self-defense or in service of the protection of other patrons or staff. When physical force is initiated by a patron, the bouncer has the right defend himself with an equal amount of force. However, bouncers are taken to court so regularly, it’s considered the single most preventable loss within the tavern industry. So, if you’re the owner or manager, you’re still likely to be sued for assault and associated damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering and lawyer’s fees.

As a result, many states have passed laws requiring that bouncers be trained, licensed, and vetted, including criminal background checks. For instance, Philadelphia instituted a City Ordinance, which requires that bouncers must be registered and receive proper training. The law also mandates that people with certain past criminal convictions may not be hired as bouncers, all under very specific regulations.


Security Guards are usually employees of a security company, rather than hired directly by venue or bar owners. This benefits the proprietor because the guard is additionally licensed, bonded and insured under the security company. Additionally, a security guard is trained and certified according to State law to further protect against liability. Echelon is licensed in PA, NJ, MD and DE and we comply with each States unique security guard standards.

Pennsylvania distinguishes between individuals who own security guard firms and those employed by them. The Private Detective Act of 1953 sets requirements for watch, patrol, and guard businesses while mandating minimum standards for hiring guards.

New Jersey security officers must meet requirements under the Security Officer Registration Act (SORA). Security company owners must be licensed, but employees and subcontractors are registered as security officers. NJ guards must meet specific vetting and training requirements. Security officers employed by businesses rather than security companies are subject to a different set of rules.

Maryland security guards are under the jurisdiction of the Maryland State Police Licensing Division. The Division recognizes multiple security officer job roles including those for corporations.

Delaware’s security guards are licensed by the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security. To become a security guard, they must fulfill training, pass a proficiency test, and submit to a thorough background check. In addition, they must be eighteen to work as an unarmed guard, and 21 to work as an armed guard. Private security licenses are not offered to law enforcement employees.

Security Guards (unarmed and armed) are best used as a highly visible deterrent to prevent unwanted or illegal activity before it starts or grows out of control. They can perform all the same duties as a Bouncer, plus additional tasks to lessen liability and keep everyone safe. For example:

  • Access control and ID verification
  • Bag checks for weapons and substances
  • Metal detection services by wand or magnetometer
  • TIPS alcohol awareness training
  • MOAB management of aggressive behavior training
  • RAMP certified via the LCB
  • Digital security guard reporting and documentation
  • GPS sign-in / sign-out jobsite verification
  • Emergency, hazard and crisis training, protocols and drills
  • Active shooter protocols
  • VIP escorts and transportation
  • Comprehensive threat assessment reports
  • Coordination with local law enforcement

Establishments should consider additional training such as TIPS, MOAB and RAMP for both security guards and bouncers to address everyday challenges such as protocols for dealing with underage patrons, reducing alcohol service liability through awareness, understanding when the use of physical force is permitted and using verbal communication to deescalate aggressive behavior.

TIPS is a skills-based, online alcohol training and certification program that is designed to prevent intoxication, underage drinking, and drunk driving by enhancing awareness and skills of servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol.

MOAB training presents principles, techniques, and skills for recognizing, reducing, and management of aggressive behavior both in and out of the workplace.

RAMP certification is a set of training and resources available to licensees and their employees. In order to become certified, businesses must complete a five step program, which includes: Manager training, seller or server training, employee orientation, posted signage, and affidavit request. The program provides certification for two years.

A quick story…

A few years ago, we had an inebriated patron start a public fight at a posh holiday event. When our security guards stepped-in to break up the fight and protect other guests, the belligerent patron punched one of our guards. The guard responded with appropriate force, restored order to the small crowd, restrained the drunk patron, contacted the police, and then escorted the troublemaker outside to wait for the police. When local authorities arrived soon after, the patron tried to attack them as well. Guess what? The event venue, local authorities, caterer responsible for the bar, and our security company were all named in the subsequent lawsuit. We had clear surveillance video and written documentation, our guard certifications were in order, our training manual was current, and we’re licensed, bonded and insured – several months later, we won the lawsuit.

In my view, Bouncers and Security Guards can both be effective depending on your specific goals. However, it’s a real benefit for clients to have the assets of a full service security company at their disposal because it eliminates much of the time and effort associated with hiring, training and managing your own security staff. In addition, you can add seasonal security staff, increase security during a national threat, or replace a guard who’s not the right fit with just a phone call.






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.”


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.


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.


retail_suit_armed security

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 562

retail_suit_guardAs a business owner, you aren’t just responsible for strategy, finance, marketing, sales and HR. You are also liable for the safety and security of your employees and customers. In today’s world, every business requires a minimum of safety and security precautions such as access control, surveillance cameras, evacuation planning and first aid equipment. However, there are many businesses that can benefit from an additional level of protection in the form of armed security guards. The question is whether your business is one of them. If you’ve ever found yourself even considered the possibility of hiring an armed guard – the answer for your business is most likely yes.

An armed guard is more than just a person who can respond to shoplifters and vandals. When a person seeking to do harm sees that your business employs a guard carrying a firearm, they understand they will have to contend with someone who has the lethal force to stop them. Just the presence of an armed guard is usually enough of a deterrent to make most bad actors move on to another, softer target.

It’s much more than the threat of force, however. Armed guards have to undergo many hours of state certified training and classroom testing. Typically, a high percentage of armed guards have backgrounds in personal protection, law enforcement, public safety or the military. That means they have the skill set to bring much more to the table in a crisis situation than just a weapon in a holster. In fact, because the majority of armed guards are full time employees of professional security companies, they have the experience and assets to keep your people and property safe in nearly any situation. Whether you’re responsible for property management, retail stores, construction sites, religious institutions, critical infrastructure facilities, or a business that has large amounts of cash, merchandise, inventory or valuables of any kind – armed guards are essential to prevent loss.

If you think you may need enhanced security, the first step is to have a comprehensive threat assessment in which experts consider and review the vulnerable areas of your business. The deliverable is an in-depth executive level report on areas in which you can improve the internal and external security of your business. Then you choose if and when you’d like to implement the security strategies and tactics outlined in your report.

In addition, top security companies offer armed close personal protection for the secure transport, safeguard and escort of Executives, Dignitaries and Celebrities. These elite services provide the highest level of protection available.

Some organizations may prefer to opt for an unarmed security guard. These guards can also be highly trained and still do a lot to prevent unwanted or unlawful activity. The right security officer can also provide other valuable services such as acting as a good will builder or in a customer service capacity.

As an owner or CEO, you’re focus is business, but all you have to do is click on the news to remind yourself of the unfortunate reality and prevalence of violent crimes and mass shootings in our society. That’s why it’s crucial to seek the advice of experienced security service providers. As CEO myself, I know leaders in the public and private sector want to sleep easy at night, knowing they did their due diligence regarding the safety and security of their people.


Educating Your Religious Organization on Armed and Unarmed Security Guards

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

Educating Your Religious Organization on Armed and Unarmed Security GuardsIn the wake of the tragic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in October of this year, there has been an increased debate on the merit of installing armed security guards at Synagogues and other places of worship.

It is an unfortunate fact that acts of violence and hate crimes in places of worship are on the rise in this country, regardless of whether that place of worship is a church, a synagogue or a mosque. Yet unlike schools and other public institutions, religious organizations have been the slowest to adopt increased security measures.

For many, installing armed or unarmed security officers at religious institutions has become a serious consideration. Many worshippers would rather be slightly slowed down by increased security checks than have no professional security measures in place whatsoever. Others, however, feel that the presence of security guards may feel intimidating and threatening.

That being said, professionally trained security guards are one of the most effective ways that religious organizations can protect their congregation and minimize or prevent future attacks on their place of worship. Not only will highly trained professionals be able to respond to an attacker quickly and safely, the visual presence of security guards — even if they aren’t armed — is often enough to deter would-be attackers because you are no longer viewed as an easy target.

These professional security guards don’t have to be intimidating to worshippers, either. There are several steps that both professional security companies and religious leaders can take to make worshippers feel safe and secure during services. This can include dressing officers down so that they don’t look intimidating. Religious leaders can also introduce officers to their congregation so that they know the people protecting them and stand with security officers at the entrance to the place of worship so that worshippers see a friendly face at the door.

Even if you aren’t ready to commit to armed security officers, there are steps that every religious institution should take to maximize their security. For instance, installing a modern, comprehensive security camera and access control system can help to prevent vandalism, robbery and active shooters. Locking the doors while service is in progress may slow down or ward off would-be attackers. Having an evacuation plan, whether in the event of a fire or an active shooter, is also a must-have.

It is clear that however they feel about armed guards, every religious organization should educate themselves by having a discussion and security threat assessment with industry experts about how they can increase the level of security at their place of worship. The cost of security will understandably be a big factor for religious organizations, but this figure will depend on several factors such as the type and number of structures as well as the size of your congregation and the level of protection that you desire. What’s more, a professional security company can help you build a custom security plan for your budget.

If you’d like to speak to a leading security provider in your area, call Echelon Protection & Surveillance at 610 831 0277 for your free consultation today.

Security drone with camera and building

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 802

Security drone with camera and buildingThe inclusion of drones in security operations is becoming increasingly more common, and more necessary. Drones have many advantages over traditional security and reconnaissance methods. On their own, drones can be a very valuable security asset. When combined with other types of security and surveillance measures, a real powerhouse security plan can be created.

Drones have an advantage over traditional surveillance methods (i.e. helicopters and cameras) because they are:

  • Less expensive
  • Easier to operate
  • Quieter and not easily detected by those being surveilled
  • Able to access remote areas and transmit findings quickly
  • Able to operate in various weather conditions
  • Equipped with infrared and thermal sensors that allow for night vision

So, what are the ways in which drones can be used? There are three key areas where drones have made a significant impact on security and protection: Events and Crowd Control, Commercial Usage, and Everyday Security.

Events and Crowd Control

Whenever there is a large crowd, there is a concern for safety. Large venues that host concerts, conventions, EXPOs and sporting events are exciting, but they are also serious security risks. Appropriate measures need to be taken to ensure personal safety and the security of the entire venue against any kind of unwanted behavior, hazard, attack or unlawful incident. Drones can play a key role in making sure an event runs safely by observing any challenges before they grow out of control.

Before the event happens, drones can be deployed to conduct remote advance reconnaissance of the venue. Being able to get an aerial view of the entire complex, including surrounding infrastructure like roadways and parking lots, can give a security team the information needed to analyze and evaluate the situation and put together a complete plan to handle any issues that may occur.

On the day of the event, drones can be used to monitor traffic and parking. This can prevent major delays, and possibly accidents, as cars can be directed or re-directed to appropriate areas. Drones also can monitor foot traffic. High traffic areas often lead to pushing and shoving, which can lead to fights and stampedes or trampling.  Drones can help manage high pedestrian traffic areas and prevent congestion, averting tragic accidents.

Commercial Usage

Drones can keep businesses safer and more secure. They can monitor buildings, facilities, and properties in ways that were not possible in the past. Nothing replaces the on-site responsiveness of well-trained security guards and well-planned surveillance cameras, but drones can bring additional level of security.

Drones can conduct perimeter surveillance to protect a company from sabotage, theft, and vandalism. For instance, they can monitor building complexes for trespassers by covering areas out of a normal surveillance camera’s sightline, or too remote or dangerous for vehicle or foot patrols. If a trespasser is observed on the property, they can be followed more safely because intruders are monitored from a safe distance before being apprehended, protecting security guards and police officers involved in the arrest. The oil and gas industry is a good example of an industry that has benefitted from drones as a way to protect their pipelines.

Port surveillance and shipping protection is another area where drones are important. Drones can monitor borders, ships, cargo, and the port itself. They can help send visual information when there is an accident and when search and rescue operations are needed, and they can also help in preventing piracy. While this may conjure up images of Blackbeard and Captain Jack Sparrow, the fact is that modern piracy is a real threat to the shipping industry, as is smuggling and illegal trafficking. Drones can follow ships, watching out for potential invaders. If a threat is found either at sea or at port, drones help authorities respond quickly, before a ship or cargo becomes vulnerable to theft or hijacking.

Agriculture and Farming rely on drones to protect their crops and their livestock. Drones can make routine trips over acres of land that otherwise may not have been easily guarded. Farmers can ensure their crops are healthy and haven’t fallen prey to disease, theft, or sabotage. The same is true for their livestock. Drones can be equipped with thermal sensors and sniffers that detect predators, poachers, and hazardous gases. And since drones are quiet and unobtrusive, they can track animals without scaring them and track poachers without being heard.

Everyday Safety

Drones are great additions to public safety efforts. Authorities can use drones for various everyday needs such as:

  • Daily traffic reports
  • Locating missing persons
  • Security for parking lots and other open areas
  • Protection of parks and landmarks
  • Search and rescue missions after disasters

There is no question that drones are a valuable security resource. They are inexpensive and provide a unique perspective for authorities and they should be considered whenever an extensive outdoor security plan is being put into place.

homeland security graphic

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 554

homeland security graphicAs we observe the passing of the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reissued the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin to underscore the ongoing terror threat at home that continues to demand our attention.

The NTAS has been reissued seven times since it was first released in December of 2015. The Department of Homeland Security deemed it necessary to reissue the bulletin at this time based on assessments of the current environment.

Foreign terrorist organizations want to sow chaos and fear by attacking Americans both at home and abroad. These groups have become increasingly sophisticated in their ability to exploit technology, including social media applications, to instigate or guide individuals already in our country to commit terrorist acts which may include the use of vehicles, small arms or homemade explosive devices.

DHS is actively engaged in efforts to disrupt such activities and is committed to preventing threats to the public, working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as well as foreign counterparts. DHS and FBI provide information and assessments to state and local law enforcement and business owners in the private sector. Heightened law enforcement and security activity may be visible at some public events and spaces.

Crowded places and other soft targets, such as sports arenas, shopping venues and transportation centers draw large numbers of people but have limited security in place. This can make them vulnerable to attack. Terrorist groups are well aware of the opportunity soft targets present to easily inflict harm to many people using unsophisticated methods such as attacks using rented vehicles.

Because DHS’s primary mission is to protect the American people, the Department actively fosters collaboration between the private and public sectors to heighten security and minimize risks in crowded spaces, large events and public gatherings. The public and private sectors working together on security efforts is critical to enhance the safety of people in locations such as parks, restaurants, transportation centers and event venues. The Department offers free tools and resources to assist communities in implementing security measures.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen recognizes that communities are the first line of defense in keeping the public safe and secure and that one of our greatest assets against terrorist activities at home is an informed and vigilant public.

You can stay informed by listening to public announcements from local and safety officials concerning potential threats. You can also help by reporting any suspected terrorist-related activities to local law enforcement or by dialing 911.

Resources are also available for businesses to plan and be ready for incidents or attacks. A four-step plan can be applied to help businesses and their and employees be better prepared to ensure their safety: Connect, Plan, Train, and Report.

An engaged community along with informed and prepared individuals provide a strong defense against possible terrorist threats to our homeland. However, DHS does not want to discourage Americans from continuing to attend public events, travel, or freely go about their daily lives. Simply being alert and prepared can help all of us increase our collective safety. Be responsible for your own personal safety, know where emergency exits are located, be vigilant in public spaces and report suspicious activity.

For more information, and to read the full DHS bulletin, please click here.

event security stage

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 537

event security stageHiring the proper personnel to staff a special event is a unique challenge to any security event company’s recruiting team.  An individual that is seemingly perfect for your Tuesday night event, could end up being the wrong fit for the Saturday night event.  So, when putting together the best team for an event detail, each event has to be viewed as its own separate function, with its own particular protocols, and needing a specific style of guard. Recruiting for a special event is truly not a one-size-fits-all style of recruiting.

By the same token, attempting to hire a full time event staff in order to handle all of your special events will present its own challenges.  When compared to hiring staff for your standard, 40 hour a week, recurring security jobs, the special events staff has to be more accommodating and flexible with their schedule.  The special event staff needs to have both a security guard mindset and a healthy understanding of customer service; thinking on your feet is mandatory and last minute changes in shifts and directives are the norm.  Both of these skills will come in to play when working an event.

Of course, the type, size and frequency of your event will dictate just how many experienced security guards you have available to work each event. The event staff that tend to be the best fit are people who are: responsible, enjoy various types of events (musical concerts, festivals, fairs, races, celebrations, weddings, holiday celebrations, etc.) have a flexible schedule, and are customer service oriented. In addition, event staff should have training in standard event duties such as: crowd and parking control, bag checks, ID and access control, alcohol management, perimeter patrols, VIP security, and coordination with local police departments and EMTs.

That’s why college students, retirees, municipal workers, and people who work part-time often make up the majority of the typical event staff.  Remember, the other main pool of event personnel will come from the full-time (and part-time) security guards, who are often tasked with providing supervisory and administration duties that require more experience, specific training or a special skill set.

The training of this style of personnel becomes a main issue, because each special event will come with its own unique challenges and protocols.  Always confirm with the client exactly what they are expecting from the event staff.  Is the staff member requested to be a higher-end guard or concierge type of staff?  Or does the event call for a more physical, visual deterrent style of guard?  Often, one cannot be expected to do the job of the other. And, as with many events, your team will most likely need a combination of the two.

The bottom line is that it becomes incumbent upon those of us in the security industry to make the necessary commitment and investment to be certain that all event staff are trained to a competent and capable level.  The most successful security companies have the ability to deliver a mix of personnel to any event. That is, a staff that is well trained, groomed, and able to follow and fulfill all of the client’s directives while responding to last minute requests with professionalism and grace under pressure.




By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 732

Training-Blog-PhotoOne of the issues that security companies must be realistic about is the need to discipline their security officers. The industry is such that guards cannot always be fully supervised because they may work alone, overnight or in a remote area. When no one is watching, there is always the temptation for the average guard to stray from company directives by napping, using their cell phone, checking-out early or even leaving their post. This lack of work ethic and accountability is a constant management challenge for companies that strive to be the best they can be. Many times, the problem is worsened by companies that choose to overlook poor performance in order to retain enough guards to maintain their workforce.

In all cases involving protocol behavior violations, the first question for any operations director to ask is: “Did this occur because the guard made an honest mistake, or in spite of the fact that the guard knew it was wrong?”  Intentional violations of policy require a more stringent level of disciplinary action than common mistakes due to lack of experience.

The second question is: “Is this a first-time violation, or a repeat violation?”  The third time that a specific protocol is violated, despite coaching or disciplinary action, requires a higher level of discipline than a first time offender, given the fact that a multiple occurrence can hardly be excused as an unwitting mistake.

Unfortunately, the combination of low hourly wages, high turnover rates, absence of on-site supervision, deficit guard verification technology, poorly motivated guards, and a lack of meaningful training provides a real challenge for the average security guard company. One could make the case that the industry itself has created the conditions that lead to poor guard habits by the way the average security company operates.

It’s no secret that in order to be competitive, many security companies must pay guards lower wages, which often make it hard to motivate and retain employees in an industry where employees will “jump ship” for a job that pays a little more per hour. This often means security companies may overlook minor guard infractions, which can lead to guards committing more serious transgressions.  Without a clearly communicated disciplinary process in place, many companies find themselves in a position that forces them to terminate guards who should have been better trained, supervised, coached and compensated in the first place.

Disciplinary action must be fair to the officer, and the company. The primary goal is to train the guards to be compliant with well thought out company protocols. The ideal level of punishment for an offending officer is a balance between applying a learning process (remediation) and the appropriateness of the penalty to the infraction (the punishment fits the crime).  The discipline should always consider the specific nature of the incident, as well as the individual officer’s past history of performance on the job.

Disciplinary actions must also be consistent.  All things being equal, similar first-time offenses by different individuals should draw comparable penalties.  The old idea of “making an example” by punishing an offender severely not only violates the ideas inherent in progressive discipline, but also likely starts an officer who might have been remediated on a path that could lead to claims of unequal treatment from a human resources perspective.

A mindful system of discipline and reward is intrinsically tied to a successful training program which prepares new hires to perform their duties while offering coaching and reassignment to existing guards who do not represent the company as intended.  A training program must be well planned and executed to reflect the brand reputation externally and the company culture or personality internally.  Specifically, guards need to be clear on the penalties for poor conduct, as well as the rewards for superior performance.  The old saying: “You can’t tell someone they did something wrong, if you never taught them what’s right” certainly applies.  Careful vetting, updated training, effective orientation, engaged supervision, annual reviews and consistent coaching are key to cultivating a guard pool that is reliable, accountable and vigilant. This hard work directly benefits the client, company and ultimately the industry as a whole.

Progressive security companies use discipline as a building tool, not as a motivation killer.  The proper reinforcement of expectations through effective orientation and ongoing training, combined with a meaningful application of discipline will result in more vigilant security officers and satisfied clients.


armed guard blog photo

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 523

armed guard blog photoTraining programs for armed guards in the modern security industry can run the gamut, from non-existent to extensive.  In most corporate settings, limitations on the level of training provided to security officers are often the result of real world budgetary considerations.  State regulations and insurance companies also influence the type and extent of armed training initiatives.  The unfortunate reality is that merely meeting legislative, liability, or client financial requirements may lead to ineffective or unproductive security officer training to the detriment of everyone’s safety.

Remember, that the training of armed security officers is not only geared toward the use of a firearm.  Rather, it is only one component of the training that utilizes the option of deadly force during an encounter with an adversary.  Training to become competent in the techniques that could result in the taking of another human life encompasses a number of issues that come into play during and after a lethal encounter.  Regrettably, training security officers to anticipate the physical and emotional aftermath of incidents is virtually non-existent in modern training.

Often overlooked or disregarded are the numerous other aspects of security officer training that exist in a force continuum in addition to deadly force.  This non-lethal instruction includes the way a security officer reacts on the scene, such as making his presence known and using some measure of physical force to gain subject compliance. In addition, the use of verbal de-escalation techniques to manage aggressive behavior (MOAB), open-handed control, chemical weapons (OC spray), impact weapons (batons), grappling hand-to-hand combat, and non-lethal munitions are all force and training options, as well as legitimate choices for security officers when interacting with a combative subject.

While many law enforcement and security trainers refer to the alternate use-of-force options during lethal weapons training classes, few actually conduct the kind of comprehensive training sessions that leave individual security officers comfortable and capable of executing these options in a confrontational situation.  Arguably, verbal de-escalation techniques are the most important of all security officer responses to counter a threat, yet this remains the least thoroughly taught of the continuum of force options.  Verbal de-escalation becomes even more critically important given the fact that very few security officers are provided with the non-lethal weapons options available, because either the security company or the client tend to view those options as either too expensive to manage or another liability.  As a result, many security guards often lack the training and associated comfort level necessary to deploy these alternate weapons appropriately.

The bottom line is that it becomes incumbent upon those of us in the security industry to make the necessary commitment and investment to be certain that armed guards are trained to a competent and capable level.  The best security companies must train their guards to determine when deadly force may be necessary and react appropriately. However, they must also be proficient with utilizing all necessary non-lethal options when confronted with critical and demanding security situations. Decidedly, the great majority of incidents faced by security professionals will require the competent use of non-lethal force as the correct, and legal, response that keeps people safe and mitigates liability.

Photo of security guard shirt back

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 726

Active ShooterIn the 2 weeks between Part One and Part Two of this blog there have been 2 more “mass shootings.”  On June 17, 2018 at least 17 people were shot at an Art Festival in Trenton New Jersey, and  last week 5 more individuals were killed in a “mass shooting” in Annapolis Maryland.  Please note that the quotation marks around the words “mass shooting” are there to comply with the federal government’s definition in which “4 or more people are shot”.

When we look at the total number of 2018 shootings in which three or less people were shot, the number varies depending on differing statistics from a low of 100 to more than 154.  No matter what the actual number is, we can all agree that any number is much too high.

While Echelon security staff was not deployed at either site, it is our belief that the training our security guards receive prepares them for rendering immediate assistance to our clients in the vital minutes between the time the first shot is recognized, and the first responding law enforcement officer arrives.

Our officers are trained in the ugly truth that no matter how a venue is secured, that the assailant will always have the upper hand.  Unlike law enforcement, security staff or the general public, the assailant knew they left their house with the intent of coming to an event to take human lives –  everyone else did not.

Statistics have shown that nine times out of ten, the assailant is either a current or former student, employee, or patron of the venue and has knowledge of how to enter the building with the least amount of detection.

While many other security companies stress the basic training of our industry – customer service, patrol basics, and report writing (all invaluable security industry skills) we require that all applicants be competent in such areas before their formal training commences. Building on these core values we then focus on what to do when things go wrong:

  • Dealing with Difficult People
  • Observation Skills
  • Tactical Awareness
  • Crisis Response or Active Safety Response.

And, because about half of our guard force is unarmed, we focus on the role expected of them in such situations.

We do our utmost to impress upon each new officer that in crisis situations their role as an unarmed guard is to alleviate panic.  We make sure that they fully understand that in the precious few minutes until law enforcement arrives and the “threat is neutralized” that they will be the first person of authority that frightened employees, guests or patrons will turn to for guidance.

Their first duty is to get as many people to safety as possible, using evacuation routes that are the least dangerous.  Once this is done and people are safe, our guards are trained to alert authorities that there is a shooter on the premises.  We instruct our staff on how to call local authorities, 9-1-1 and what information to provide.

Our security instructors stress the importance of safely exiting a building and best practices for doing so.  We teach the basic skills to assess if safe exit is not an option and provide the knowledge through practical exercises such as:

  • Securing an area
  • Cover vs. concealment
  • Improvising locking devices
  • (and only when necessary) committing themselves to direct confrontation with the assailant
  • Interacting with law enforcement upon their arrival.

Echelon understands that the training provided to new security guard staff members is not equivalent to the rigorous training provided to law enforcement – nor is it designed to be.  Its purpose is to provide familiarity with concepts, empathy with victims, and to guide the proper actions in times of crisis situations.  Our first duty to our clients will always be to respond in a preventive and proactive fashion at the most critical times.

Yet, should the circumstances arise, and prevention is not possible, our security guard staff understands that our role is to:

  • Mitigate as much physical and emotional harm as possible
  • Decide upon the proper survival protocols
  • Make sure that techniques are correctly applied
  • Keep everyone safe and secure until law enforcement arrives and the threat is eliminated.

Every state has different standards in order to become a certified security guard, so Echelon provides our own proprietary training to ensure our officers are prepared to respond appropriately in any situation.

Security training

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 551

Security trainingThe basic security guard training and site-specific directives my company provides is tested and proven to work in almost any security environment to protect people and property. The exception to this rule are the security officers assigned to protect our education and religious institutions.  While most security training is focused on “detect, deter, observe, and report” our institutional guards are taught to “be vigilant, think on their feet, make tactical decisions, and in case of crisis – save lives.”

In addition to their basic security guard training, these officers receive additional high-level instruction in crisis response, stressing an “Active Safety” mentality, as opposed to an “Active Shooter” mentality. The end goal being the survival of themselves and the clients we secure and protect.

Knowing that most institutions now instruct their staff, students or congregants in the basics of RUN-HIDE-FIGHT or the A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) we train our school and institutional officers to understand these protocols and assist in their implementation.

These programs and many others, provide the end-user with extremely useful, rational, and practical information.  However, they are based on the flawed belief that rational answers to irrational acts of violence are effective.  Compounding the problem is the delivery of the training method.  Although, it’s not ideal to just watch a video, listen to a power point and perform a few active shooter drills a year, these methods are far superior to no training at all. Our officers are familiar with a variety of basic active shooter training methods, so they’re better prepared in any event.

However, instructors who have had extensive training or law-enforcement experience know the sad truth is that the RUN-HIDE-FIGHT training method (no matter how professionally presented) cannot adequately address the chaotic, and unpredictable reality of an active shooter attack.

To be clear, we advocate RUNNING-ESCAPING as the most sensible option of all, but RUN-HIDE-FIGHT training encourages a mindset that better prepares people to save themselves and others during an active attack.

Among the problems in RUN-HIDE-FIGHT is the proven fact that this model is based on rational thought, linear thinking, fosters a non-aggressive/victim mindset, and fails to adequately deal with fear induced panic, fear, and freezing that human beings are prone to exhibit.

The linear thinking of RUN-HIDE-FIGHT has the psychological danger of falsely setting into clients’ minds that fighting should always be the last resort. This may waste precious time looking for a place to hide, when tactical circumstances dictate that physically confronting the attacker is the best response.

The bottom line is training people to realize that there is no one best answer and accept the reality that the best plans, locks, cameras, and alarms are no match for a determined attacker. Remember, that in every instance, the active shooter attack began long before the first shot was fired, and that the majority of the bloodshed occurs before the first law enforcement person can respond.

Our security instructors and curriculum planners spend hours teaching our guards the concepts of a survival mindset, the basics of tactical thinking, the valuable of each second, and the paralytic effects of fear and how it can be conquered.  The most important message of all is that in times of crisis – we do not rise to the occasion, but rather fall back on our training.

…to be continued.

Background Check Form

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 755

Background Checks FormAll reputable security companies run background checks before hiring new guards to be certain that both the client and the company itself are protected and represented by reputable individuals. For the most part, states require that a background check be performed before a guard can be issued state credentials like the so called “Guard Card.”  The most important duties of a security guard are to protect the clients’ property, possessions, and personnel, so before hiring, a good look into the guard’s past can shed light on how successfully they might be able to perform their duties.

Background checks and credentialing are in the best interest of the client, the security company and the guard him/herself. While the discovery of some minor legal “issues” may be forgiven, most states and security companies must be cognizant of prior felony convictions or open charges, particularly ones involving theft or violent crimes. Additionally, knowing if a conviction on “minor” charges was a result of a plea agreement (which originally included felony-level offenses) can be a major indicator of an applicant’s potential for success or failure.

Not only do background checks help in hiring decisions, but they may also protect a business in the case of potential lawsuits or other legal complications. For example, let’s say a business chooses to hire a guard on their own, without the help of a reputable security company. If that guard was previously convicted of theft and then steals from the business, that business will probably not be able to file a claim for stolen property, regardless of whether they knew about the previous infraction or not.

Individuals applying for a security guard positions should be informed and expect that a criminal background check will be a major part of the hiring process, a tacit demand requiring 100% honesty on their application. Companies will compare the information on an application with the information garnered from background checks and a uniform and unbiased process for weighing prior minor infractions in an applicant’s youth may be no problem, unless of course they’ve lied about it.

A reputable security company will conduct fairly extensive background checks before hiring a guard that might include any or all of the following:

  1. Criminal Background Checks – Obviously, a security company making a hiring decision needs to know about past criminal activity. But they also want to see that the information on a potential employee’s application matches the information in the background check. An applicant who lies about past criminality, even if it is a very minor infraction, will have a hard time convincing a company that they are honest and should be hired.
  2. Fingerprints – In many cases, guards will also be fingerprinted so the hiring company can run the prints against the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. There can be issues in an individual’s past that do not show up on a standard state level criminal background check.
  3. Driving Records – Many guard positions require driving duties, so a fairly clean driving record is important. Confirming that the applicant possess a valid/current driver’s license as well as a registered and insured vehicle should also be considered before hiring employees to fill spots where public transportation is not an option.
  4. Sex Offender Database Checks – Security guards will interact with all manner of people in the course of performing their duties. An applicant whose name appears in the Sex Offender Database will not be eligible for employment.
  5. Credit Checks – A check of a potential employee’s credit history is becoming normal for many jobs, even outside the security industry. Most states require security guard applicants to consent to a credit check, and in most cases, if an employer turns down an applicant due to a problem on their credit report, they are required to show the applicant the report and the reason for the rejection.
  6. Open Charges – If an applicant is in the midst of legal battle, for example, if they are engaged in a civil case with a spouse or family member, or perhaps involved in a domestic violence case or under a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order, it is unlikely that they can be hired.

Established and well managed security providers will have their own battery of application and interview questions that add depth and detail to the typical background check process. Despite how extensive state and federal background checks might be, there is no substitute for sitting across from an individual and asking probing questions about their current legal status as well as their past.

Hire Security Providers

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 572

Hire Security ProvidersWhen the safety and protection of your business, employees and personal property are at stake, is it really in your best interest to hire the lowest priced security provider? We’ve all heard the saying “you get what you pay for” and that certainly holds true in the security business. The simple truth is that low cost security providers are often not qualified to perform the level of services required to ensure you’re safe and secure in today’s volatile world. Let’s look at a few reasons why.

Each state has different licensing and registration regulations, so be sure that your security partner has obtained the appropriate credentials and insurance required by law. Sure, you can hire an unlicensed guard to patrol your property, but how can you be sure about their ability to handle unwanted or illegal activity in the proper manner? What if their actions land you or your business in court? Are you protected in such an instance or are you left with all the liability? Lawsuits often include vendor selection and vetting processes, so be sure you select a reputable security provider that is licensed, bonded and insured, and ask for references. The imagined time and money saved on a low cost security providers quickly evaporates when faced with long term legal issues. In fact, research shows that security companies are one of the most sued industries, which is commonsense based on the inherent risks involved protecting people and property in many different situations and industries.

Low cost security guard companies also tend to have an extremely high turnover. They typically hire individuals who work part time, are between jobs or are just looking to pick up a few extra dollars. These untrained transient employees typically have no motivation to care about their job performance. By contrast, career security professionals are carefully vetted, well trained, diligently supervised, utilize technology, and are monitored 24/7 by GPS to document their duties. These checks and balances cost a little more, but naturally create the most vigilant security guards.

Remember, that when you hire security guards or personal protection, you’re hiring people that represent your brand personality and reputation. In many cases, these individuals may be the first impression a guest, visitor or potential customer comes in contact with when entering your premises. Whether you work in the public or private sector, the first impression counts, so the best security guards will look the part and act as helpful goodwill builders.

Also, consider this from the perspective of the security provider. If they offer low cost guards to your business, it means they are paying their guards poorly. That means they are most-likely spending an inordinate amount of time and effort dealing with turnover, callouts, lateness and discipline problems. If that’s where their energy is going, then proper hiring, training and customer service are certainly suffering.

Licenses, insurance, training, supervision, technology and office management all cost security companies a significant amount of time and money. Companies with no infrastructure will certainly offer a lower guard rate, but your overall safety, customer service and peace of mind will be lower as well. Remember, a lawsuit, loss or other security incident can seriously derail a business’s profitability and progress, so consider the possible downside when considering the low cost provider. Yes, you get what you pay for, but you also might get a lot more than you bargained for in terms of loss, aggravation and liability.

hand-erasing-gun-from-blackboard_Red filter

By: Don Benn, School Security Training Instructor, Echelon Protection & Surveillance.
Word count: 643

hand-erasing-gun-from-blackboard_Red filterEchelon has been providing security solutions for educational institutions and school districts since the company was founded in 2001.

At that time, our original duties were to provide a helpful, professional, uniformed presence to assist the school staff in standard activities such as hall monitoring, crowd control at sports events, traffic control at arrival and dismissal, deterring horseplay and breaking up the occasional fist fight. This traditional style of school security required minimal specialized training and little more than common sense, good-character, and a sense of responsibility on the part of our guards.

This changed drastically after the events of December 14, 2012 when a 20-year-old male in Newtown, Connecticut armed with multiple weapons shot his way into a locked local elementary school and in less than seven minutes murdered 20 students and 6 adult staff members before taking his own life. At the time, it was the deadliest mass school shooting in America.

Within a week of this horrific event, our focus at the 20 schools in which we worked at the time shifted from deterring horseplay to preventing tragedy. Working in conjunction with school safety experts, district professionals and governmental and security industry trainers we rethought, revised and expanded our own exclusive school security training.

All Echelon school security staff received our proprietary School Marshal training.  Acknowledging that the very notion of having uniformed security guards in schools is fraught with controversy, budget and public relations concerns, we sought areas of common ground in an effort to deliver the most effective and affordable school security solution.

In the weeks following the Newtown murders, Echelon security specialists accompanied school district leaders on safety and vulnerability inspections of their schools.  During these security assessments, recommendations were offered and incorporated into revised crisis prevention and response plans.  Echelon participated with school staff in district lockdown and evacuation drills. We shared our collective expertise and became more knowledgeable and better trained ourselves.

At that time, Echelon was viewed as an “outside vendor” who understood that our job was essentially to carry out the district safety policies that were already in place. In time, we became regarded as “security partners” that take the lead in assessing the risks and developing the proactive strategies and technology to prevent active shooters and other crisis related events. Currently we provide security for over 60 public, private, parochial, charter and religious schools on a full-time or part-time basis, and we are able to train every guard to respond to active shooter threats in order to protect the students, faculty and staff.

Our guards learn the basics of such tested and proven methods as Run-Hide-Fight, in which they learn to use confrontation as a last resort.  In addition, they receive training in Move-Escape-Attack, which is a little more flexible but a little tougher when in charge of a large group of students.

Our guards are exposed to a veritable alphabet soup of methods including A.L.I.C.E (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter & Evacuate) and C.O.U.N.T.E.R. (Consider Options Use New Thinking & Evade or Retaliate).  We teach these varied forms of response because we want our security guards to be able to adapt to the policies and protocols of whatever school they are assigned to protect.

With each new tragedy, like the latest Valentine’s Day shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida (17 killed), new information and strategies are formulated by law enforcement agencies and private security companies like Echelon. The best security guards will have a survivor/protector mindset. We train our guards to overcome the very basic human instincts of Flee, Fight, or (worse) Freeze.  A variety of training and technology provides our guards with more options to keep every person safe.

Experienced Corporate Security

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 560

Experienced Corporate SecurityLanguage is always developing and as business and social structures change, so do the meanings of many terms.  In the security and protection industry, two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, “bodyguard” and “executive protection,” really have quite different meanings. As the security and protection landscape evolves, these terms have become even further apart in their meaning and application. To limit the confusion, we thought a little clarity from inside the industry might be helpful.

Bodyguard is an older more general term, that over time has suffered a bit based on the stereotype. The image is clear. We hear the term bodyguard and we imagine a menacing brute standing in front of their client with a “don’t even try it” look on his face. While the job description may require putting one’s own body in between the client and any potential harm, this is an outdated, brawn over brains approach that could escalate a conflict. Also, merely guarding a body is far from representing the full scope of protection needed by today’s VIP, executive, dignitary and celebrity clients. While an imposing presence is fine, an authoritative, professional presence that projects vigilance and training is the right choice for your VIP.

An untrained bodyguard will typically react to threats with immediate brute force which is not only dangerous, but a clear liability. In fact, if you hire some big guy from the local gym, that may be the extent of their abilities. An executive protection specialist, on the other hand, is thoroughly trained to work as an individual or as part of a seamless personal protection unit to mitigate threats or risks through careful planning and awareness. True specialists are trained not only in physical defense techniques, but in a host of other de-escalation methods as well.

For example, while they are trained in the use of firearms, an executive protection specialist is also trained to anticipate challenges and remove the client from harm before ever needing a weapon. Specialists are trained to evaluate situations for threats before they occur, by using mental and visual perimeters around their client as protective zones or layers. They may also be trained in specific subjects, like cultural sensitivity, technology, evasive driving, counterterrorism, advance planning, bomb sweeps and many other special skills required in today’s volatile environment.

With training comes expense, and as expected, the rates for a quality personal protection agent or team are going to be significantly higher than an untrained bodyguard. Most states have licensing requirements in order for someone to be certified in personal protection services, and various levels of certification are typically available. As is the case with most industries, individuals with a desire for career advancement and employment stability can pursue any number of levels of accreditation. Schools like Executive Security International in Colorado offer a variety of certification levels with course like the Executive Protection Program consisting of a 28 day residency.

The bottom line is, you get what you pay for when it comes to personal protection services. With the complexity of today’s security environment –technology, terrorism, advanced weapons – it just does not make sense to hire an untrained person to keep yourself, loved ones or VIP safe and secure. If you have a need for personal protection, we encourage you to be clear about your situation and discuss the solutions with a qualified personal protection specialist.

Quick Response Security Guard

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 511

Security Guard Quick ResponseIf your office or facility employs one or more security guards that perform patrols of your business or campus, you must be certain that your guards are performing their duties while documenting all activity with clear, detailed reports which are reviewed daily and filed for future use.

Every facility is different and factors such as industry, size, location, layout, and so much more influence both the guard’s tour patrols and protocols. As an example, a retail store certainly has a different set of directives than say, a construction site or public school. Depending on whether your guards are protecting inventory, property or people, there will be many different factors to consider. However, there are security best practices common to most businesses, and understanding these procedures will help with security assessments and defining protocols.

Let’s consider the facility layout first. Just about all businesses that occupy physical locations will have the following high threat areas in common:

  • Vaults, cash registers or anywhere that valuables are stored
  • Main entrances, exits and windows
  • Auxiliary entrances, loading docks, basements
  • Elevators and stairways
  • Connections to other buildings
  • HVAC systems
  • Electrical and alarm systems
  • Utility rooms
  • Data storage, computers and servers
  • Storage areas for anything from chemicals to food to parts and inventory

Then of course, there are exterior locations to consider. These might include the following:

  • Building exteriors, including roofs
  • Outbuildings, storage and garages
  • Dumpsters and loading areas
  • Landscaping and surrounding terrain
  • Entry and exit points
  • Fences and perimeters
  • Parking lots and access roads

It’s clear, that once you start to think about a strategy for securing your building or campus, there are a lot of variables to consider and it’s likely that you will find your specific security challenge has a few items from each group.

It’s worth having a good hard look at your areas of exposure with your security partner to make sure that you are considering all perspective areas of risk. For example, it does little good to schedule a basic nightly check of all doors, windows and entrances, but overlook the liability of intrusion from rooftops or adjoining buildings.

There are also many technology solutions to help manage tour patrols and guard reporting. Many software packages, like Officer Reports, which we use here at Echelon, allow our supervisors and scheduling department the ability to monitor guard locations via GPS and see reports from check-in locations in real time. Packages like these often bundle other features like time and attendance tracking, schedules and employee profiles, and tour reports can be sent to clients with clear, easy to read information – so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

As is always the case, whether you are managing your own proprietary security team or if you hire a security partner like Echelon to handle security for you, a clear understanding of your organization’s needs, physical layout and vulnerabilities are all required for any security strategy to be effective. The lists above is a good place to start.



Security officer reporting

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 607

technology influences the security industryAlmost every business has been affected, in some cases quite drastically, by new developments in technology. The security industry is no exception. Progressive security companies must not only employ new technology, they must also train and equip security guard personnel to install, use, monitor and interpret the growing data that result from deploying new hardware and software systems for clients that want verification and documentation of services.

And like other businesses, security companies have to make decisions on how much and what type of technology to use. Just because a technology is developed and available, does not necessarily mean it’s right for all clients. Technology professionals and security company management must remember that the basic needs of the security industry, i.e. protection of people and property, have not changed all that much. Any decisions to purchase and new technology must first meet the needs of the client.

That said, clients are educating themselves on the benefits of technology and expecting guidance, technical savvy and accountability from their security providers. This means that not only must providers obtain and use new technology where appropriate, they must also retrain their employees including security officers, supervisors and operations managers.

For example, tech savvy clients may seek security as a service (similar to Software as a Service or Saas) options from their providers. This typically entails the use of cloud based, remote security solutions and flexible, integrated options that meet the security needs of clients in specific industries. The ability to capture, analyze and save data for review are often part of the client needs in order to help mitigate liability. If businesses want to remain competitive, they must be ready to offer these services which often carry a monthly fee.

For the most part, security guards, now typically required to carry smart phones, must also be trained in how to use mobile apps, dashboards and reporting tools. A security system is only as good as the input it receives, so video cameras, access controls and security officers alike all contribute usable information from their locations into a central system which must be secure and monitored constantly.

Like most other industries, automation is also playing a larger role. Gone are the days where security officers can only “review the tapes” after an incident has occurred. Intelligent, automated systems can now alert human operators by motion sensor when a potential incident is developing. Far from replacing the need for human security officers, these new technologies are simply changing the nature of traditional security guard responsibilities.

Surveillance systems have gone beyond being simply loss prevention or incident monitoring applications. With expanding features becoming available, even including artificial intelligence, end users of surveillance products are starting to expect business intelligence from their systems. For example, while a camera based security system monitors store activity and helps prevent theft, as a side benefit, some systems can generate heat maps to determine higher traffic zones and areas of specific activity. Store managers can then deploy everything from additional security guards to special sales displays in those areas. This provides a dual benefit of both security oriented intelligence and sales and marketing insights as well.1

Of course, technology moves at an accelerated pace, but launches of new products still require some time to be beta tested so any problems can be worked out. Adopting a new technology too early might result in failures due to unforeseen bugs or technical problems. Too late, and a business will find itself behind its competition. To remain competitive in the digital age, security companies must anticipate trends while staying well-informed of developments in all the technologies that may affect their industry.

1Gonzales, Andy (2017) 5 Technology Trends Impacting the Surveillance Industry Security Insights




By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 668

security guard photoThe past year has been a busy year for everyone here at Echelon. As we look back on 2017, we are reminded that the services we provide play a crucial role in creating a sense of safety and security for our clients. We are also aware that security and safety has become a top priority for many organizations over the last year. Since we’ve put so much thought and effort into developing our exceptional team of security professionals, that we thought we would provide our list of the most important qualities needed to be a top security officer.

1. Well Trained Topping our list is the certainty that a great security officer should be well vetted and trained. Good training can help keep a bad situation from growing out of control, and can potentially keep people safer and even save lives. And since there are so many different situations in the public and private sector that may require security officers, from personal protection and armed guards to school security, loss prevention and crowd control, it is essential that the officer with the right training be placed at each jobsite.

2. Communication Skills In many security scenarios, the ability to quickly assess a situation and communicate it accurately to the rest of the team and to those whom you are hired to protect is essential for any good security professional. Understanding the immediate needs and choosing the right words to communicate can be crucial whether you are communicating verbally or using technology to report or document an incident.

3. Honesty Security officers are charged with protecting not only people, but property, inventory, cash, valuables, equipment, facilities as well as many other types of assets. Honesty and integrity are key ingredients for success. Since security officers often have unrestricted access to all of the above, there will be ample opportunities for theft or deceit, but a good, honest guard with a well vetted background check will be much less likely to succumb to such temptations. Integrity and honesty are absolute musts in our book.

4. Mindfulness In the majority of situations where a security officer is employed, there will be a potential for interaction with all types of people. Imagine a large office building in a major city. In any given day, a security guard might encounter people of all different ethnic and economic backgrounds. International business people, tourists and even homeless people looking for shelter or a place to rest. Security guards should be trained to act as a goodwill builder, concierge and brand representative. When challenges arise it’s also important that guards have been taught to manage aggressive behavior. A good security officer knows how to assess people’s demeanors and de-escalate situations mindfully so they do not erupt into conflict.

5. Vigilance Security professionals are generally required to either be on patrol or posted at one location (seated or standing) for hours at a time. It’s essential to stay alert and vigilant as not to allow attention to be diverted by distractions or boredom. An unmindful officer can easily miss a thief in action or fail to notice suspicious, illegal or unwanted activity.

6. Physical Fitness If a security guard is not in decent physical shape, it is unlikely that he or she can perform their duties adequately. Not only do guards often need to be on their feet for long periods of time, but they may need to run, carry heavy objects and perhaps even break up fights or apprehend intruders. Also, a superior physical appearance helps to project authority, professionalism and commands a sense of respect.

With 18 years of experience in the security industry, we strongly believe that these are some of the most basic qualities that a good security officer should have. Since our company is constantly recruiting security guards to keep up with demand, we are always on the lookout for these qualities. We want all our clients to be confident that we will provide them with gold standard of security guard services.

woman at the phone while driving

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 716

woman at the phone while driving

The traffic light up ahead turns red, you slow down as you pull into the left lane and come to a stop next to a car in the right lane with a young lady at the wheel. Chances are good that you will look to your right and the driver will be looking at her phone. Not the light. Not the pedestrians debating whether or not to cross. Not the cars and trucks all around the busy intersection. She’s completely absorbed in her device.

We’ve all seen it. Perhaps we’ve even done it ourselves. Texting, emailing, making phone calls aka “distracted driving.” It’s a growing problem and it gets even worse during the holidays.

While this subject may be a little outside of our usual range of topics, I have been a Volunteer Firefighter, and more recently a Fire Police Officer, at the Fort Washington Fire Company for over 40 years, so everyone here at Echelon is committed to doing our part to facilitate a safer world. And distracted driving is far from safe. With the holiday season in full swing, the possibilities for distractions while driving increase, so the last thing anyone should do is add the extra layer of distraction by texting or using social media while driving. Even without this relatively new safety issue, the driving fatality statistics during the holidays are alarming.

According to the American Safety Council, the top 6 most dangerous holidays to be on the road are as follows1:

  1. Fourth of July
  2. Thanksgiving
  3. New Year’s Day
  4. Christmas
  5. Labor Day
  6. Memorial Day

We are right in the thick of that list with a cluster of holidays, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day and Christmas, occupying the number 2, 3 and 4 slots. And this year, with both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eves both falling on a weekend day, we can expect a higher number of fatalities than usual.

But that has been pretty much the standard for many years, and many of the accidents that contribute to the above rankings are caused by drunk drivers. But now, if we add cell phones to that mix, we start to see some truly alarming statistics.

The National Safety Council (NSC) tell us that fatalities on U.S. roads rose by 14 percent since 2015. This is the largest two-year increase in five decades and attributed to cell phone use while driving. A recent study from Cambridge Mobile Telematics revealed these key findings2:

  • Distracted driving was a factor in 52% of trips that ended in an accident.
  • The average duration of distraction on these drives was 135 seconds.
  • On 20 percent of distracted drives, phone distraction lasts for two minutes or more. This often occurs at higher speeds with 29% at speeds exceeding 56 mph.
  • The worst 10% of distracted drivers are 2.3 times more likely to be in a crash than an average driver, and 5.8 times more likely than the best 10% of drivers.

Tragically, the NSC also tells us that every day in the United States, 11 teens die as a result of texting while driving. That’s a sobering thought, and it is disheartening to know that during this holiday season, dozens of families will be suffering the loss of a teenage family member simply because someone could not wait a few minutes to send or respond to a text.

Laws banning phone use during driving are only marginally effective, but oddly enough, the object at the very center of such tragedies, the smart phone, may actually be part of the solution. Abundant apps are appearing that will disable phone usage during driving, and parents and teens alike are adopting these safety measures. Other apps can be used that analyze driving behavior, and some even employ gamification to engage young drivers in improving their skills.

Let’s face it; as a teen today, it is very difficult to resist the perceived need to respond instantly to a text or social media post. When it comes to our weak spots, we all could use some help, so if the smartphone itself can be employed to solve a problem it has inadvertently caused, then there is hope on the horizon.

In the meantime, stay alert, put down the cell phone and drive happily and safely through this holiday season.

1The American Safety Council, The Six Most Dangerous Days to be on the Road, (Nov. 19th 2017), http://blog.americansafetycouncil.com/six-most-dangerous-holidays-to-be-on-the-road-2/

2Beauchamp, Sandie, New data from Cambridge Mobile Telematics shows distracted driving dangers (CMT, Apr. 3rd, 2017) https://www.cmtelematics.com/press/new-data-cambridge-mobile-telematics-shows-distracted-driving-dangers/

Cannabis grow facility

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 576

Cannabis grow facilitySales of legal cannabis are growing at an annual rate of 17 percent and are expected to reach $13.3 billion in 2020, according to a report by New Frontier Data1. Clearly, we have a growing industry (pun intended) and the participants are developing systems and operational standards as they go. For obvious reasons, one of the areas that requires some quick learning is in the area of security.

A quick search on Indeed.com for jobs with the keywords “Cannabis Security” returned 129 results. A general search on the category returned 871 jobs. No doubt, this is becoming big business and of course, there is a lot of money involved. But there are plenty of issues as well. Marijuana is still a controlled substance in much of the country, and the main players in this space used to be organized crime and drug dealers. Transporting the product is akin to transporting gold; it is very valuable and untraceable if stolen.

Insurance companies and risk advisors typically rate cannabis operations in the “high risk” category, comparable to liquor stores and pawn shops. Most banks will not work with these companies, and some large security businesses like ADT refuse to service this industry, largely out of fear of losing government contracts, since pot is still illegal as far as the federal government is concerned. As of November, 2017, there are 29 states (plus D.C.) that have legalized marijuana2.

Security companies in states where pot is legal are already scrambling to position themselves as leading providers. Offerings will typically include armed and unarmed security guards, armored vehicles for transporting goods and cash, and security and surveillance systems for both growing facilities and dispensaries. The products are pretty much the same as they are in other industries: security cameras, integrated systems, employee management and screening, on-premises guards and the like.

At the moment, the largest market for legal cannabis is in Los Angeles, California. Until quite recently, neither the state nor the city of L.A. had instituted regulations concerning how the cannabis entrepreneurs managed security, but that is soon to change after the public voted to pass Measure M, a fairly comprehensive measure to create not only security protocols, but industry wide regulations.

Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana sales and usage in 2016 requires dispensaries to maintain round the clock video surveillance, and data must be stored for a minimum of four years. That’s a costly proposition to be sure, and some companies are reporting security costs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cheaper alternatives and workarounds probably exist, but vulnerability is of course a major concern.

Tony Gallo, CEO of Dallas-based Sapphire Risk Advisory Group, currently works with cannabis companies and notes that 60% to 70% of theft at marijuana dispensaries is committed by employees. Mr. Gallo suggests that employee vetting and creating work cultures that reward honesty can go a long way to keeping security costs down3.

In any case, the legal cannabis industry and market will continue to grow, and since security is a crucial element, a subsector of the security industry will no doubt emerge to meet the growing need. It is likely that large companies who want to do business nationally or with the federal government will stay away, and smaller companies will be hard pressed to obtain financing sufficient to address the needs of the market (armored vehicles, for example), so it looks like this may be a golden opportunity for the mid-sized security companies.

Community Protest

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 600

Community Protest Over the past several years, we have all witnessed unprecedented volatility in our national politics. To be sure, there is a lot of anger, resentment and finger pointing between members of our two main parties. This condition is not confined to Washington D.C. or the halls Congress. Local politics, town halls, community events and more often get quite heated and even violent. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the evening news featured footage of a shooting, fights and general aggressive behavior, and since the election, town halls, in particular those held by Republicans, have been interrupted by angry protesters and minor skirmishes have ensued.

Some politicians are requesting police escorts as they travel to and from their town halls, and others hire their own private security details to protect them. But what about attendees? Are there measures that can be put in place to ensure the safety of participants? There are plenty of guidelines from child safety organizations on how to keep children safe at public events, but when the adults in the room are endangering each other, this opens up a new set of security challenges.

The obvious solutions include hiring security guards or requesting that local police stations send an officer to an event that might be politically volatile. Unfortunately, most police departments charge a very high hourly rate to protect local meetings, and if they get an emergency call they may unexpectedly leave you unprotected. Event organizers can also try to recruit off-duty police officers or other security professionals to volunteer at events. The visible presence of security teams is certainly a strong deterrent to those who might be inclined to start trouble.

Meeting organizers should consider adding comments about safety, egress and outline behavioral guidelines during opening remarks. This might help mitigate spontaneous aggressive behavior, but in many cases, individuals and groups come to a meeting or event with pre-planned intent to disrupt. Even so, that can be addressed directly, and guidelines that allow all voices to be heard can go a long way towards bringing down the emotional temperature of a room.

Whenever possible, surveillance systems should also be in place. It’s a good deterrent strategy to mention at the outset of a meeting that participants are being digitally recorded. Although digital technology has made video security systems very affordable, many buildings, particularly those with historical or architectural interest, and certainly those with landmark preservation status, have restrictions in place as to what can be done both visually and structurally to the building. Workarounds include temporary free-standing camera systems. Remember, that cameras can only help you after the fact, so vigilant security professionals are crucial when unwanted activity begins.

Of course, planning any event well in advance gives organizers a chance to really consider security needs with a critical eye. Events with big name speakers, politicians and public figures, especially if they lean strongly to one side of the political spectrum, are certain to require more security than other, less volatile events. Meetings that are open to the public or that may attract attendees from outside of the community may also require tighter security.

In any case, safety and security starts with the awareness that any event may be a target for violence or disruption. The simple truth is that we no longer have the luxury to assume that every event will be peaceful and orderly, and if there is any threat to the well-being of attendees, security and protection has to be a top priority.

church against blue sky with white clouds

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 555

church against blue sky with white cloudsThe tragic shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, underscores an unfortunate truth of our current time: places of peace and worship are particularly vulnerable to random violence. Equally disturbing is that such events are as unpredictable as they are hard to deter by the very nature of these religious institutions. Whatever we may find out about the shooters background or motive, we cannot escape the fact that, like the Mandalay Bay Hotel incident in Las Vegas, nobody could have predicted that any specific incident would happen on a particular day and location. But does that mean that there is simply nothing that can be done? Are there any ways to prepare for, or possibly even prevent, such an incident?

Sadly, houses of worship are quite familiar with violence. Dozens of Jewish community centers and synagogues have experienced bomb threats recently, mosques have been vandalized or attacked, and there have been 147 shootings at churches in the 10 years between 2006 and 20161. While, of course, this number is disconcerting to say the least, it does provide a statistical sample of reasonable enough size to learn something.

For example, according to Dallas Drake, a criminologist at Center for Homicide Research in Minneapolis, 48% of these attackers were affiliated with the church that they attacked. Furthermore, in 17% of these church shootings, the attacker felt unwelcome or had been rejected by the church. So that begs the question as to whether or not church officials and/or members might be able to recognize potential warning signs. Perhaps they could consider undergoing training to recognize behavior that may lead to violence, or possibly even create member run groups to reach out to troubled individuals. Maybe they can consider looking a little more closely, perhaps with the aid of social services or law enforcement, at church members who display troubling signs.

While church leaders are wary of creating an environment that does not facilitate feelings of peace and safety, they must consider the well-being of their congregation. Security guards, either armed or unarmed, may well be part of the solution.  Many churches have already installed security cameras and some now lock their doors once the service has begun. Church leaders speak frankly to their congregations about staying aware, and some churches are engaging local police or security companies to provide comprehensive security assessments, workshops and classes on what to do in violent situations.

Since many churches have police offers and security professional among their congregation, some have created volunteer programs where these members offer to act as guards, either armed or unarmed, during services and church events. Others have taken the step of hiring security professionals to patrol the building and grounds before, during and after services and church events like holiday festivals, picnics and the like.

The bottom line is that religious facilities and gatherings are soft targets for an attacker bent on doing harm due to the concentration of people confined in one place, at a specific time, with their attention focused in one direction. No matter what approach religious facilities take to address security, all agree that doing nothing is not an option.

1Burke, Daniel, The Truth About Church Shootings, Nov10. 2017, CNN.com http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/us/church-shootings-truth/index.html

Hotel sign at night

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 498
Hotel sign at night

After the recent Mandalay Bay hotel terrorism attack in Las Vegas, hotel owners, managers and their security teams are forced to take stock of their procedures and security protocols. For the most part, experts agree that given the conditions in place at the Mandalay Bay at the time of the incident, there was probably nothing that could have been done to prevent the tragedy from happening from a security protocol perspective. Nonetheless, the event has opened up the discussion, and a wide variety of ideas are being floated, from metal detectors and bag checks to bomb sniffing dogs.

Of course, for reasons of security, hotel spokespersons are reluctant to discuss any specific tactics, nor are they willing to publicly announce that they are “more secure” than other hotels for fear of a potential attacker considering that to be a challenge or a dare. However, most experts agree that a visible presence of additional security guards can certainly help. At the very least, it will help guests feel more secure and it may possibly deter a would-be attacker.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), the industry’s main trade association, offers assistance and education on best practices for hotel security. Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the AHLA said in a recent written statement.

“Hotels have safety and security procedures in place that are regularly reviewed, tested and updated, as are their emergency response procedures…As we better understand the facts in the coming days, we will continue to work with law enforcement to evaluate these measures.1

Guests should expect hotels to be testing new procedures in the coming months, especially as the holidays approach. More robust surveillance systems are likely and some hotels are considering the possibility of X-ray machines and scanning equipment, but since hotel guests are paying a premium, in part for privacy, this will be a difficult tactic to implement.

That said, it may still be the best option. In countries where hotel attacks have occurred before, tougher and even invasive security procedures are regularly in use. Trace explosive detectors, baggage scanners and even facial recognition systems are in use in hotels on India, Israel and Egypt.

Security teams, training and overall risk are often based on the size and type of hospitality venue. At smaller hotels, security is often minimal, but this will have to change if industry participants no longer want to be regarded as “soft targets.” Training staff will be a key element of success, and everyone from hotel cleaning crews to the front desk personnel will need to be trained in spotting anomalies and warning signs.

Certainly, the hospitality industry on the whole has been slow to embrace stricter security measures for fear of alienating guests. But as we get used to longer lines at the airport, cameras on every street corner, and police officers with long guns, we may have to adjust our expectations when we check into our favorite hotels for the sake of safety, security and peace of mind.


1Source: New York Times; Oct 11, 2017 “Las Vegas Shooting Underscores Hotel Security Choices

Personal Protection at Comic_Con_1

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 497

Personal Protection at Comic_Con_1For individuals in the spotlight, fame offers both the pleasure of positive recognition, and the dangers that accompany being a known entity. Whether you’re a famous performer, a political figure, or a high-profile business person, finding yourself bumping up against excited fans, paparazzi, or constituents can prove to be one of the greatest risks of your particular role. An unfortunate consequence of today’s political climate is an extra charge of conflict between those with celebrity status and the public. Increasingly, there are individuals who feel it their responsibility to take a stand, sometimes by using violence. Because of these greater threats and the less stringent gun laws and regulations, if you are someone whose work places requires you to be in the public eye, you should take steps to protect yourself and your family.

First, consider hiring a certified protection professional to accompany you and your companions when you are traveling or know that you will be otherwise more publicly available. You can find body guards whose sole mission is to maintain your safety, while also allowing you a sense of autonomy and freedom despite their presences. When you are working with professional security group, ask them to access your level of risk, and to point out when and where you might be most vulnerable. You should also request that they create a strategy that takes into account all parties involved, and that includes ways to avoid any unnecessarily risky situations. Specifically, this could mean mapping out driving or travel routes, and searching for the safest alternatives.

Secondly, the ideal protection professional will always bear in mind the need for life to continue on as normally as possible, without the obvious intrusion of outside protection. Jim Dambach, Director of Executive Protection and Investigations, former Lieutenant, and Veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, Secret Service, and FBI explains the philosophy of Echelon’s approach. “Our eyes do not leave the individuals we are hired to protect. We anticipate and avoid threats, rather than reacting to them. Our number one priority and area of expertise is to cover the client and make sure he or she remains secure while also providing a minimal amount of interference.”

At Echelon, we pride ourselves in hiring the highest caliber bodyguards who are trained to manage the specific needs of a VIP and her or his cohorts. In addition, they are trained to administer emergency medical attention, to be adept at package inspection, and to be armed as needed. Lastly, they receive training in ways to serve and protect without invading your privacy, so that your travels or interactions are both safe and natural.

Our team is backed by an executive director with over 40 years of experience in a high-level position in the Philadelphia Police Department, and approximately thirty years investigative experience dealing with everything from street crime to corruption to homicides. We are prepared to protect you in the best way possible, with the least amount of infringement on your day-to-day activities.

Man Sitting Inside Car Photographing With SLR Camera

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 443
Man Sitting Inside Car Photographing With SLR Camera

Many people believe that a quick Internet search can lead them to all the information they need on any individual. In truth, online sources vary in reliability, and many of them require hefty fees for public information that could be obtained more quickly and efficiently by a professional investigator.  If you are considering investigating someone because you are either in the process of hiring or you suspect illegal conduct, don’t sacrifice the integrity of your business by using short cuts. Hiring a trained investigator will save you time, money, and will provide result you can count on.

Here are five advantages to working with a security company to obtain more information on an individual(s) before moving forward with any further decisions:

  • Reliable information: most private investigators or undercover agents are certified to gather information from state, local, and federal sources that are not easily accessible to the average citizen and that can be used in a court of law if needed.
  • Tangible proof: investigators will work to seek documents, photographs, financial, and/or legal reports with an eye toward information that will be persuasive to your advantage should the case need to move into litigation.
  • Discretion: a good agency will ensure that the information they gather is done in a discrete way, so that you can know the work is being done without your direct involvement.
  • Smart interpretation: oftentimes, private investigators will not only gather data, they will also assist you in interpreting its meaning. Most will have previous experience with criminal investigations, and so can explain the severity or meaning of any troubling information that’s uncovered.
  • Strategy:  once information is gathered, a good investigator will have already begun to formulate follow up measures including steps to take when further action is needed, advice about how to proceed, and some guidelines about the best ways to handle the matter at hand that will cause you the least amount of personal or professional stress.

At Echelon, we have a high level team of investigators with over 40 years of experience with the Philadelphia Police Department, and approximately thirty years investigative experience dealing with everything from street crime to corruption to homicides.  Our employees are all former police officers, detectives, or veterans of law enforcement skilled specifically in investigative services and bound to confidentiality and the highest level of ethics.

In the words of my colleague, Jim Dambach, Director of Personal Protection and Investigations at Echelon, and former Lieutenant, and Veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, worked with the Secret Service, and the FBI: “We bring a high level of experience and confidentiality to each investigation, tailoring it to fit the client’s needs. Our motto is to always operate with the utmost professionalism, integrity, and dedication to provide accurate and thorough results and informed guidance for next steps.”

School Campus Security

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 629

School Campus SecurityWhen parents send their children to school, the last thing they want to be thinking about is their safety. In response to this concern, a recent bill passed by the Pennsylvania Senate has voted to allow teachers and employees to carry guns while at school. Passing by a narrow margin of 28 to 22, Senate Bill 383 would “allow workers with concealed carry licenses to possess guns in schools if they meet training requirements and pass a psychological evaluation.”

However, many state senators and those who study school violence remain opposed to such measures, including survivors of the Sandy Hooks Elementary School attack, who collectively wrote in an open letter that arming teachers or others “would not have made us or our students any safer. In fact, it might’ve made things worse.”

While on the surface, allowing teachers to carry guns may seem like a reasonable solution, experts in the field of law enforcement agree that it actually creates more potential for disaster and creates additional problems than it avoids. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Laws that strip regulations for carrying guns in public places are associated with a 12% to 18% increase in violent crime over the 10 years following their adoption.” Furthermore, arming citizens who do not have access to the same training as law enforcements officials often leads to more casualties and more deaths.

For school administrators, the safest and most secure option is to hire professional security guards who embody the expertise and training needed to handle life-threatening situations. In this way, teachers can concentrate on their main purpose—educating students—while parents and students can rest easy, knowing that trained professionals are focused on the role of broad protection in multiple scenarios.

Proper school security relies on a mixture of planning, preparedness, and technology alongside vetted, trained, and certified security guards who are supervised by those outside of the school administration. Employing an experienced security company allows schools to look at the entire picture. First, most companies will develop a strategy by reviewing potential vulnerabilities in the school’s layout or design, as well as identifying and tagging the number of exit strategies that exist. They can then make recommendations for improvement. Secondly, a security company can create an emergency plan that can be shared among the teachers, administrators, and students as appropriate. As with most things, preparedness allows for much greater success in the event of an emergency. In addition, installing the proper technology such as video surveillance, or, in some cases, scanning mechanism, allows for a daily assurance that the property is being thoroughly monitored by individuals trained to spot problems.

The presence of certified school security guards offers numerous benefits. First and foremost, it creates an environment of accountability; those outside and inside the school recognize that an active monitoring system is in place, and threats of bullying or violence on all fronts are lowered. Secondly, with trained guards, you can be assured that responsive time and assessment in the event of an emergency situation will be enacted by individuals specifically trained to respond to these occurrences. Lastly, your students and faculty will not only feel safer, they will be better protected by guards whose sole purpose is to ensure their safety.

To learn more about how to best protect your school and your students, contact a representative at Echelon Protection & Surveillance. Our certified security guards and staff are the most highly-trained in the region, and members of our team come from backgrounds that include work in the highest ranks of the Philadelphia Police Department, Federal Agencies and other high-level, high quality areas. Our guards are supervised and monitored, and their progress and reports are documented on a regular basis to ensure transparency and accuracy.


fire damaged business

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count:  649

Securing Your Business after a FireImagine this: you receive a call late at night, learning that a fire has started at your business, leaving the structure in ruins. If you’re like most business owners, you first thought will be for the safety of your employees and the people in nearby buildings. Next, you’ll want to make sure that you have the necessary insurance documents to cover the costs of rebuilding.

Most business owners realize that they must have substantial accident insurance in the event of an unforeseen disaster. But often, they may not consider the steps that really need to be taken to protect them when the unthinkable happens. As a business owner or manager, you must consider what you would do if you experienced such a loss. Having insurance is obviously an important consideration, but so is knowing what to do to save time and money when a fire does occur.

Here are a few actions you can take in the moments following an unexpected loss due to fire:

  1. Within 24 hours of a fire, you are legally required to contact a licensed contractor to repair damaged system and pull any required permits. You must also contact state or country licensed personnel to conduct an ongoing fire watch.
  1. Hire a trained security officer to patrol the areas impacted. All fire and safety officers should be trained in fire prevention or be certified CFSI fire inspectors who understand the state law requirements as well as OSHA and NFPA safety standards.
  1. Research shows that construction site crime costs more than $1 billion per year in the United States. Get a professional assessment to identify vulnerable areas of the property and to develop a strategy to keep the site safe from trespassers, thieves or vandals.
  1. Secure your property. To avoid further loss due to theft, consider hiring a security company with the knowledge and manpower to ensure there is no further vandalism or material theft, which can create costly delays.
  1. Assess the floor layout, review emergency shutdown procedures, repair any damaged fire protection systems, and make sure that all of your equipment meets the state law standards.
  1. Consider adding additional security measures as you rebuild your property, such as surveillance tools or onsite guards who can offer 24 hour protection.
  1. Install additional security measures such as perimeter fencing, access control, temporary surveillance cameras, exterior lighting, deterrent signage, and a strategic jobsite layout.
  1. Keep accurate records of all fire watch reports to keep the fire marshal and the fire department informed.

For all of these services and more, Echelon Protection & Surveillance can meet with you immediately onsite to set you up for a successful transition from calamity to security. Along with the measures above, EPS will assist you with construction site security, starting with a strategic plan, tried and true safety measures, onsite protection, certified fire watch patrols, and daily logs complete with digital photos that identify areas of risk. A security account manager is also at your disposal, free of charge, so that you can receive regular status updates. As one final and important step, we work in tandem with local police to support our security measures, and further our goals of visible deterrence.

As a volunteer fire fighter for over 40 years and in my current role as the Fire Police Captain in Worchester Township, Montgomery County, I can assure you that Echelon is prepared to handle any crisis or hazard that develops.  Consider contacting a representative today, at no cost to you, to see what you can do to keep your business safe, including measures that prevent fire damage, such as better alarm systems, immediate notification of illegal entry, and a quick plan of action to put into practice should a disaster occur.

Business man and woman arguing silhouette

Planning for Employee Termination is Your Best Insurance

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 643

Business man and woman arguing silhouetteA disgruntled former employee can threaten more than your company’s reputation. Even when you follow clear human resource protocol in terminating an underperforming or difficult member of your team, that individual can still pose a threat to the safety of your business and the peace of mind of your current staff. However, you are not alone. With some prior planning and the support of security company skilled at managing conflict, you can ensure that an uncomfortable situation does not turn into a dangerous one.

As with most security measures, the first step is to employ smart safety strategies when hiring individuals. Though Benjamin Franklin’s axiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may sound cliché, it’s true that anticipating challenges helps you avoid potential disasters down the road.

The first safety measure to take is to complete a thorough background check prior to hiring. It doesn’t matter if the prospective employee comes highly-recommended, or is someone you’ve known in a social capacity—you need to screen every new hire with the same level of scrutiny as you would a stranger. More than just checking references, think about hiring a security company who specializes in employee vetting and background checks. Such an organization will have access to national and international databases and records that you cannot get on your own.

Echelon Protection & Surveillance can provide access to credit checks, multi-state background checks, motor vehicle records, employment records or nearly any information criteria combination thereof.  We work with numerous law enforcement agencies and federal government sources to cover all of your bases. Basic background checks will give you results almost instantaneously. For more in-depth screenings, outcomes will be generated within just a few business days.
In rare instances, even when you work with a security company to ensure proper vetting, a former employee may still prove to be a threat. In that case, there are other measures you can take to protect your business and associates.

First of all, be cognizant of the possibility that an employee who has been let go may be less likely to respect the business as they are leaving the premises. In more obvious terms, this means that the individual may be more prone to theft of property or property damage in the wake of the termination. To avoid these costly situations, it’s best to have a strategic plan in place for end of employment that includes a safe exit strategy and surveillance plan as the individual is being asked to leave. Computers or other password protected accounts should immediately be changed. Keys, equipment and ID’s must be returned at the time of the exit interview. A security guard or other trained professional should be on hand to monitor all activity with the former staff member when they’re clearing out a work space and leaving the property. If you don’t have an on-staff security guard, you can hire one for as little as one day or as long as needed. The key is to have a trained security person on hand until you’re certain that there will be no retribution from the terminated employee(s). Be sure to consider key indictors of perspective challenges from terminated employees, such as: veiled or direct verbal threats, contact with former co-workers by phone, email or social media, returning to the property, or references to violence of any kind.

Echelon provides professional armed or unarmed security guards to trained in termination support planning to prevent unwanted activity in this situation. All of our security team members have been trained to deal with conflict resolution and de-escalation during crisis moments. They also have the added value of being an outside source not associated with the business, which often creates a less stressful environment for all involved.

Lastly, if you suspect that a former employee might retaliate via an act of vandalism, verbal or physical threats, and/or other forms of intimidation or illegal activity, consider heightening your security measures—whether temporarily or more permanently. The onsite visual presence of a security guard can strongly deter a would-be assailant, and surveillance video cameras also decrease the likelihood of a volatile threat.

You owe it to your business, your current employees, and yourself to create employee termination strategies that keep everyone safe.

Zoo Guards

Positive Behavior Training for Security Officers

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 662

Zoo GuardsWhen hiring security officers, you want to employ individuals who are highly-trained in crisis management, adept at handling conflict with professionalism and wisdom,  capable of de-escalating encounters, and, perhaps most importantly, level-headed during times of stress. In other words, you want security officers who function like the best of emergency professionals; able to act quickly while also minimizing further conflict or violence.

Particularly if your security officers are interacting with students/children, you will need to ensure they have been educated about how to best relate to school age children. This training should not be focused on behaviors during stressful situations, but more holistically on creating positive daily interactions that lead to a more constructive school environment overall. Studies show that students who view officers as helpers are more likely to report crimes or to share information regarding illegal activity.

One option to consider is giving your security officers special instruction and certification in conflict resolution. Most local community colleges offer these types of classes for working professionals. Other organizations will hold one to three day training programs that lead to basic certification in conflict resolution. Still others will train your entire security staff onsite for a nominal cost.

Here are a few options to consider:

  1. Employ a service specifically designed to train your security officers in this area. MOAB® Training International, Inc., for example, offers in-house instruction, one or three day courses, and courses specifically geared toward public safety officers. Courses from MOAB are designed solely for law enforcement, security, and military personnel. Visit their website for more information at moabtraining.com. As mentioned above, consider investigating continuing education courses located a nearby community colleges. Many will have coursework geared toward working professionals in the law enforcement field.
  2. Supply your staff with recommended reading or video materials geared toward conflict resolution. Elsevier, a world-renowned textbook resources, offers books such as Conflict Management for Security Professionals. Security Guard Management (sgmnow.com/conflict-resolution/) have several reasonably priced DVDs for training purposes that focus on conflict resolution and crisis response for those in uniform. Nightclub Security Consultants and OneStop Interactive offer online classes for a nominal fee on conflict resolution and the proper use of force (www.nightclubsecurity.com/).
  3. Hire security professionals who already possess a level of training in anger management, conflict resolution, and best practices for deescalating stress. At Echelon, all of our security officers learn how to evaluate tense situations as well as how to avoid further conflict. Each security guard is trained to deter and prevent unlawful activity in virtually every industry and They are subject to an intense screening process, including comprehensive state and federal background checks, and extensive interviewing processes. We also make certain that they receive continuing education in crisis management to ensure that they have the most up-to-date training and skills to keep them vigilant and engaged.  Those who work at schools are trained to interact with this population to create an atmosphere of trust and security. They are taught to manage a balance between respect and approach-ability, important qualities in building stronger relationships with young adults.

In addition, Frank Williar, Echelon’s Vice President of Operations and Training, provides an additional level of proprietary training and a special orientation class for all incoming security officers. Williar, who is part of the day-to-day interactions with our staff, served in the Lower Merion Township Police Department for more than 30 years, starting as a patrol officer and later working as a criminal investigator and a member of a surveillance team.  Like the rest of our staff, he is dedicated to public service, and ensuring the safety of Echelon’s clients by hiring and training the best security officers available.

However you decide to handle this aspect of best protecting your business, it is important to recognize that your security officers should be trained to resolve conflicts. Their ability to manage an emergency situation can make the difference between a peaceful outcome and a violent one.

School Security: The Importance of Highly Trained School Security Officers

By: Stuart J. Visnov, Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 682

In the past several years, we have seen our schools become the site of deadly mass shootings. According to statistic from FBI records in 2016, there had been 50 mass murders or attempted mass murders at schools since the Columbine shooting. In a recent report compiled by ABC News, there were a record 270 total shootings at schools since the Columbine event. While we prefer to imagine that our schools are safe and secure, the truth is that shootings are on the rise and gun laws become less stringent or stay the same, it is unlikely that this trend will change. However, school officials and administrators do not have to feel helpless. There are many tested and proven strategies to protect your students, faculty, and staff from this type of tragedy, and from lesser acts of violence, such as bulling or vandalism.

Many schools today do employ professional security guards, but unfortunately, they may not realize that their teachers, monitors or volunteers do not have the training or experience needed in the event of life-threatening challenges. And the unfortunate truth is that even trained security guards don’t provide 100% safety. To ensure you have taken every step possible to maintain the security of your educational facility, take the following steps:

  1. Keep your emergency team and staff up to date on training and resources. In other words, know what you’re process will be in the event of any type of emergency situation, including weather-related disasters, power outages, an accident on campus, internal violence and/or unexpected or threatening visitors. Make sure that your staff are clear on the steps to take in specific events, including the chain of command, an evacuation plan, where emergency exits and fire alarms are located, and other life-saving techniques such as CPR. These emergency processes should be reviewed and practiced on a regular basis, and new staff should always be trained on this information.
  2. Hire qualified school security guard personnel who can control building access, offer a visual presence as a deterrent, and who have the specific knowledge about how to handle a wide-range of difficult situations with the utmost care and professionalism. This investment may at first seem financially challenging, but Echelon Protection & Surveillance will work with you to develop both a sustainable and affordable solution to making your campus safe and secure.
  3. Respond immediately when you are worried about a student, faculty, or staff member who is exhibiting signs of stress, making threats or has a preoccupation with violence. Make sure that you communicate your counseling and/or psychological services to all of your students and employees frequently and in many different media. According the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education, 81 percent of school shootings happened even though someone had information that the attacker was considering or planning the event. Take each and every warning sign seriously and contact local authorities if you are concerned by a student’s behavior.
  4. Develop specific protection and safety protocols before, during, and after any school events including: athletics, special events, administrative meetings, and pick-up and drop-off locations for students. During these times, consider hiring trained security professionals to monitor these activities and events. Our security guards are trained and prepared to keep a close watch on your people and property in any situation, and to respond swiftly and appropriately if a problem or challenge arises.

If you take these steps, your students, faculty, staff and guests will be better protected, and feel safer. Having highly trained security guards onsite provides more than just a deterrent or presence in a uniform – they are professional goodwill builders and problem solvers with extensive real-world school experience. In addition, all of our school security guards possess specialized training to aid them in working with young people, allowing them to become an integrated and trusted part of your safe and secure educational environment.

We urge you to take the necessary steps to avoid becoming another tragic news story. These actions will in turn reduce your risk and liability. In the long run, you can focus on what matters most—educating students.

Hate crime photo

Hate crime photoOn February 27, 2017 the untoward happened in the least expected place. Over 100 headstones were vandalized in Mount Carmel cemetery, a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, on the heels of similar acts of anti-Semitism in Missouri over the previous weekend. Gravestones that had stood for years were knocked down, many of them cracked in two. While the community reeled, nearby business owners were also upset, as were the city’s numerous synagogues, Jewish Centers, Day Schools, and Jewish museums.

Though Philadelphia citizens were appalled by this blatant act of hate, the unfortunate truth is that hate crimes in America have been on the rise in recent months. According to the Anti-Defamation League, this increase in anti-Semitic incidents can be found everywhere from social media to small business and homes, and can take many forms, including vandalism and bomb threats. In fact, in the last two months the ADL reported 70 such bomb threats made to Jewish community centers.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism (source: http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Clear-uptick-in-US-antisemitism-since-election-says-ADL-482639)
However, this enmity in our communities does not have to take us by surprise or upend our sense of safety. As in any crisis, readiness provides peace of mind. For business owners everywhere, creating a cohesive security strategy and plan for the short or long term helps to ensure that you are prepared in the event that your organization is randomly targeted.

As a proactive deterrent, consider hiring a professional security guard company trained specifically in managing hate crimes. You can choose to have a complete security assessment of your property or a consultation that gives you overall view of safety measures that can be taken immediately. These consultations will also assist you in identifying areas of weakness, such as areas with little visibility, employees who have not been given background checks, or the lack of proper planning in the event of a threat or attack.

Security camera surveillance is another positive step in keeping your people and property safe. The cameras serve three important but distinct functions. First, the presence of visible video security serves as a built-in deterrent to would-be criminals. Secondly, if a crime does occur on or near your property, the resulting video footage can be extremely valuable in both catching and prosecuting perpetrators. Lastly, the cameras can be monitored at any time, allowing for an immediate response from security guards or law enforcement officials if any unwanted or suspicious activity occurs. To get the most out of your video surveillance, hire an organization that specializes in video surveillance plans and installation.

Another affordable safe-guarding option is to hire armed or unarmed patrols for your property during specific times of the year, such as Jewish high holidays when you anticipate a greater number of crowds and/or distraction that could leave you and your guests vulnerable. Having a licensed, highly trained professional(s) present to watch for unlawful activity allows you to enjoy your event with the knowledge that your participants are soundly protected.

Echelon Protection & Surveillance provides all of the above services along with twenty years of successful professional experience. We are licensed, bonded and insured, plus every guard is trained to respond immediately and effectively in a wide-range of situations.

We also understand the special security risks and challenges facing the Jewish community. As a Jewish-owned security solutions company, we offer proven security services to deter and stop anti- Semitic violence and criminal activity before it starts or gets out of control.

Specifically, our expertise in managing and preventing hate crimes can be found in the security solutions we provide for Jewish institutions and organizations in the private, public and non-profit sectors, including the National Museum of American Jewish History, Rodeph Shalom, Beth Tkva B’Nai Jeshurun, Brith Achim, Beth Zion-Beth Isreal, Shaare Shamayim-Beth Judah, Temple Sinai, Philly Israel events, and The Consulate General of Israel.

In these volatile and uncertain times, take the next step to keep your organization’s people and property safe.  Our aim is always to anticipate and problem solve before a crime occurs.  Echelon Protection & Surveillance serves as your security partner, allowing you the peace of mind to manage your business or organization with confidence.

To see a full list of services including consultation, camera surveillance, employee training, and part or full time patrols, visit the website at www.epsagents.com.

Protect your inventory photo

Protect your inventory photoWhether you own a large chain of stores or a single boutique, one of the most difficult parts of managing your own business can be ensuring that your products are safe—from the moment they leave the warehouse to their security while on your premises. As much as we don’t like to think about retail loses due to employee theft or carelessness, that risk remains a reality for all business owners.

According to a 2015 report from the U.S. Retail Fraud Survey, employee theft is the “single biggest cause of loss to retailers,” leading to a $60 billion deficit for business owners across the United States.

Here are five ways that you can ensure the safety of your products, and save your business from unnecessary deficits that result from theft.

  1. Perform background checks on all of your employees. The greatest safety measure you can take is to be sure that you are hiring reliable employees in all areas of your business. Though background checks are not inexpensive, in the long run, they save you money and safeguard your peace of mind.
  1. Install video surveillance to create a greater sense of control and accountability. Employee theft accounts for almost half of retail shrinkage, according to The Small Business Chronicle. Employees have the easiest access to products, as well as to abusing discounts, or mismanaging refunds and credit cards. Video surveillance monitors this activity, and also creates a safer environment for employees by serving as a deterrent to robbery and as a safeguard in the event that something goes wrong.
  1. Hire a licensed, trained security guard to safeguard your property. These store officers can either be plain clothes or uniformed. Uncover agents can be trained to confront and deal with thefts in the moment, and uniformed officers serve as powerful deterrents to would-be thieves. According to About Money, customer theft accounts for a large amount of retail loss annually. Having a security guard on site can greatly reduce deficits incurred from shoplifting.
  1. Keep detailed and accurate records of your inventory, its movement, and the individuals who manage the products. Taking the time to record your inventory’s movement and progression is simply just good business sense, and it also allows you to notice almost immediately when a significant and unexplained loss occurs, and to then take quick and decisive action to prevent these losses from happening again.
  1. Retain a theft prevention expert to evaluate the security of your inventory from start to finish. A trained professional can help you identify efficiencies, anticipate potential pitfalls, and ultimately develop an effective strategy to eliminate unnecessary risks and employ best practices moving forward.

To protect your assets, it pays to devise a comprehensive plan, to continue to monitor your processes, and to put in place the security measures that will lead to greater profit by protecting what is most valuable to you at all times.

Echelon Protection & Surveillance can assist you in addressing your retail loss prevention needs and work to develop a security plan designed to categorically deal with internal and external retail theft. We employ a variety of solutions to protect your bottom line while addressing your budgetary concerns.


  1. S. Retail Fraud Survey: http://www.d-ddaily.com/images/10-06-15_US_Fraud_Survey.pdf
  2. The Small Business Chronicle: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/retail-shrinkage-55148.html
  3. About Money: https://www.thebalance.com/top-sources-of-retail-shrinkage-2890265
security guard photo

security guard photoAs terrorist attacks become more frequent and more deadly, the threat of terrorism is becoming a much larger concern. For better protection, we will need to look at how the world is changing, what it is leading us to, and the steps that can be taken today for better security.

What Has Changed?

It may seem like the stakes are still the same for security, but the landscape has changed immensely. There are more considerations needed for terrorist threats. It is no longer only heavily trafficked areas may have needed security guards. Now, everyone needs active physical security.

The use of explosives and the apparent randomness of the attacks make a potential target far less obvious. In the case of the shooting in San Bernardino, the target was a building, which serviced individuals with developmental disabilities.

Every business, property manager, and individual need to consider the possibility of a terrorist attack. It is not just a consideration for events or areas with lots of foot traffic. A lack of security creates a terrorist opportunity. If you are not prepared, then you are a potential target.

Of course, special events are more likely to be a target, as was the case for San Bernardino. But even venues like bars and concerts have been targeted, as was the case in Orlando and some of the recent attacks in France.

The Mindset Of The Future

What will have to change is the anticipation of a terrorist attack. Every industry will have to be preemptive with their planning. Terrorism will need to be treated like preparing for a natural disaster. Not something inevitable, but something that is as disruptive as it is unexpected.

Your particular type of business is only safe from terror attacks until the moment it isn’t. By placing experienced security guards in every building, the risk of attack will drop dramatically.

Security for every industry will need to have terrorism response training. And more buildings will need to staff security personnel. The importance of trained onsite first responders cannot be overstated, as emergency response will be minutes away in the best-case scenarios.

Where The Fear Leads

With the use of explosives and automatic firearms, minutes of unchecked terrorism can be devastating. So the mindset will also shift more to focus on anticipation and profiling. Threats will need to be discovered before perpetrators take action. This does not necessarily mean racial or ethnic profiling, as much as it has to do with the body language and attitude of suspects.

These preparations are likely to become the general mindset of the security world only due to their effectiveness. Similar precautions are taken in Israeli airports, leading to perfect security records. A mindset of fear, unfortunately, leads to a default position of mistrust. If terrorism continues to go unchecked, the intensity of security precautions will become more preemptive.

What You Can Do Today

The first step is realizing that you are not immune to a terrorist attack simply because of your type of business or industry.

You will need to be vigilant, and invest in better security. This can be passive security measure, such as installing new locks, strengthening windows, and using stronger doors. For more active security, you can also use highly trained security personnel.

Employees can also be trained to deal with these situations more effectively. Everything from evacuation plans to education on the warning signs of terrorist intent will help.

Any of these security strategies will also help to prevent theft, burglary, and even make your business safer in the result of a natural disaster.  Everything you do today will benefit your overall security.

Photo of security guard shirt backDid you ever consider what qualifies someone to be a security guard? If you’re looking for expert public or private security, it’s up to you to perform your own due diligence.

Although each state has its own standards to become a professional security guard – some states in fact have virtually none. This means it’s possible that the security guards you hire may not be vetted, trained or certified in any way. Just as some government agencies by law do not have to disclose exactly what chemicals are in our food and household items – many security companies do not advertise who is really inside their security uniform.

I am a business owner, private detective, former educator, former probation officer, and life-long volunteer fire fighter. I’m going to put on each hat in order to provide some insight into the best way to hire qualified security guards. Here’s how to make sure that the security guards you hire are vetted, trained and certified professionals.

At the absolute minimum, your security guard company should be held to the same common sense hiring polices you would expect in any skilled industry. Start by asking if they’ve performed these fundamental hiring practices:

  • Resume Review
  • References Check
  • Personal Interviews
  • Basic Training & Orientation

The security industry is about managing risk, loss and liability. As a Licensed Private Detective, I suggest you require these additional documents to ensure your security company is state compliant and that you’re protected against liability:

  • State & Federal Background Checks (State Criminal History & FBI Criminal History)
  • State Licenses & Guard Certifications (As Required by your State)
  • Proof of Insurances (At least $2 Million based on your Industry)
  • Pre-employment Drug Testing

As a firefighter for over forty years and former educator, I also suggest the following clearances, checks and qualifications to ensure your security guards are of the highest caliber:

  • Industry Specific Clearances (such as State Child Abuse History Clearance)
  • CPR/AED (Red Cross Certified)
  • Evacuation Coordination (In Case of Emergency, Hazard or Crisis)
  • Lethal Weapons Training Certification
  • Management of Aggressive Behavior (MOAB)
  • Specialized Security and Protection Skills Taught by Certified Trainers

As the CEO of a security company I suggest that you request the resumes and photos of your assigned guards as well as references from other companies like yours. The security guard resumes should include certified training and verifiable experience, including:

  • Law Enforcement Experience – Active or Emeritus
  • Police Academy Graduate Certified
  • Military Experience
  • Correctional Officer Experience
  • Associate or Bachelor Degree in the Criminal Justice Field
  • Public Safety Experience

As you perform your due diligence, remember to confirm that your security partner has the assets, inventory and infrastructure to meet your future business or private security requirements.

Stuart Visnov is the Chief Executive Officer of Echelon Protection & Surveillance and can be reached at (610) 831-0277 or svisnov@epsagents.com

Three unifomred security guards

Three unifomred security guardsTerrorism is one of the gravest problems that society faces today and is an issue of both national and global concern. The violence, damage and destruction from a terrorist attack can be felt across the globe, which is why it’s now imperative that we become more involved in a strategic vision to protect ourselves, our territory and work towards preventing such horrific events.

Due to high visibility and value, top locations to protect from terroristic acts are public venues, where our friends, families and colleagues attend in large numbers for a variety of events. Incidents in schools, stadiums, movie theaters and more have taken place in all areas of our country and can create catastrophic damage and loss to our society. Although these spaces continue to be active targets for terrorists, there is often minimal presence of trained security protecting them. Yet preventing these situations requires expertly trained and certified guards who can assess and coordinate an effective deterrent or response.

As we’ve mentioned, the best way to reduce risk is to engineer a prevention method and having security that are highly-trained in a variety of comprehensive protective services in the event of a crisis can fulfill that. Securing an environment that houses hundreds to thousands of individuals takes specialized skill, such as crowd control, emergency response, behavior management and anti-terrorism deterrents, which only certified security experts can provide.

Security officials will also work with your business to conduct a plan to significantly decrease liability and adapt to changes in a threatening environment. When a location for potential damage is so high that a malicious individual may decide to target such a place, the risk is too great to not have proper protection on site.

The recent terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, currently the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, had insufficient security onsite along with the deadly attacks in Paris, France and the Boston Marathon bombing. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), about 90% of venues that aren’t prepared for an emergency fail within two years of being struck by a crisis. Ultimately, businesses must start implementing robust, appropriate security plans to protect their organization and help their patrons feel safe and secure.

Terrorists attacks continue to evolve, and we must keep pace by staying vigilant with our security measures. Investing in proper security prevents the risk of terrorism. Additionally, properly trained and certified security officers assist not only in averting the loss of property and valuables, but more importantly, in averting the loss of precious lives as well.

Security guard with video monitoirng

Why Combining Video Surveillance with Onsite Security is Invaluable

Security guard with video monitoirngA common question we receive from organizations in a variety of industries is whether integrating video surveillance with their onsite security is a worthwhile investment for their business needs. No matter the size of your organization, the answer is yes due to several significant reasons that any company will find beneficial.

Video surveillance technology, or CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras, can do much more than conveniently oversee a surrounding area. It can save you and your business a great deal of time and money by further enhancing agent response and assisting with prevention. Video surveillance counters theft, violence and sabotage by securing and regulating your entire organization 24/7.

Along with an increase in security and safety, video surveillance provides a multitude of benefits including:

  • Visual Evidence for Investigations
  • Preventing Dishonest Claims
  • Improving Worker Productivity
  • Resolving Employee Disputes
  • Offering Real-Time Monitoring
  • Digital Storage for Easy Access of Footage

Video surveillance technology has become so valuable that The U.S. Department of Homeland Security relies heavily on it to assist with criminal acts throughout the country. In 2013, CCTV footage was used to identify and capture the Boston Marathon bombers and it’s used daily to protect us from any acts of terrorism. On a smaller scale, it’s used by over 50% of businesses large and small to protect their employees and help counter any illegal behavior.

However, despite common misconceptions video surveillance is meant to be a complement to an on-site security force and not a replacement. The primary purpose of security is to prevent crime, and while technology can be an excellent deterrent, it’s only useful when there are active, trained security agents supervising the cameras and ready to move if a criminal act is being done.

When you combine video surveillance with professional security officers monitoring that footage, you are provided with comprehensive protection of your assets. An onsite security agent provides a proactive approach to crime, and video surveillance extends the strength of their response. Combing these two tactics helps organizations prevent criminal acts and accomplish their overall goal of safety and loss prevention.

Overall, integrating innovative surveillance technology with your onsite security conclusively improves the security of a sensitive area. The combined benefits are continuous and necessary for a safe and secure environment.

Echelon protection and surveillance

Echelon protection and surveillanceEffective security is significant to a successful business and therefore selecting the right security partner for your organization is a process that shouldn’t be overlooked. The wrong choice can impact your safety, productivity and how your company is perceived, along with your bottom line. Although there are many security companies to choose from, it is important to find one that best fits your needs.

How do you know you’re choosing the right security partner? Follow our guidelines below.

Vetted, Trained & Certified

All too often you will find security officers that have only been given basic training for their position, such as communication, observation and reporting. Instead, you should look for security officers that go beyond that with proven experience in the field and are certified to effectively take action to defend your life and property. A highly vetted, trained and certified officer will make quicker, more intelligent decisions in dangerous, stressful and unpredictable situations.

Specialized Experience

Security officers being considered for your company should have experience in the industry they’re serving since each type of business comes with its own unique challenges. They should be well informed of all protocols, directives and duties with on-site experience so they can successfully protect your company and provide enhanced security measures when needed.

Security Solutions

Not every business situation requires an onsite officer on patrol, but comprehensive protection can still be offered through a variety of integrated security solutions. A security provider that’s serious about your protection can provide video surveillance and access control, which offers both indoor and outdoor control over your facility during any time of the day.

Licensed, Bonded & Insured

The right security partner will be licensed, bonded and insured so you can be certain of professional quality and services. It also means that any lawsuits or violations against the company are disclosed for your comfort. A security provider that is active in these requirements not only stays compliant with the law and protects their officers but presents the highest level of professionalism to their clients, which protects you from liability.

Customer Centric

A security provider working in your best interest helps guide you to develop effective strategies and methods for managing your organization’s safety and security. You should look for a company that stays involved and holds open communication to help solve your needs. It should be a collaborative partnership in order to ultimately ensure that they’re meeting your needs and adding value throughout your facility.

Choosing security for your business is an important decision. However, by concentrating on these guidelines during your search for a security provider, you can be assured that you’ll select the right company.

Two empty chairs

How to Prevent Workplace Violence During Termination

Two empty chairsTerminating employees is one of the most stressful and unpleasant aspects of doing business, but necessary for continuing the success of your company. Often an employee being terminated won’t expect it and can turn violent or aggressive due to a surge in emotions. They can act out through threats, verbal abuse or physical assaults on you or even other employees. Although we hope situations like this don’t arise, it’s an unfortunate truth that must be managed properly so you can protect yourself and your workplace.

Job loss has been cited by employers of all sizes as one of the top three factors that contribute to instances of workplace violence and has become the highest risk for management and human resources professionals today. Unfortunately the threat of workplace violence is only increasing. So, how do you keep your business safe and handle this risk during termination? Prevention.

Prevention is the surest way of stopping a problem before it starts, which is why it’s crucial for any business to develop a termination plan including security personnel for when the need arises. Having the presence of trained security staff during a termination meeting or afterwards to escort an employee from the premises is an exceptional deterrent for violence and a smart precaution. Professional guards are trained to look for suspicious activity and can spot an aggressive situation before it gets out of hand. They are trained in protection techniques in order to reduce the potential threat of workplace violence and reduce potential liability to your business.

Professional, respectful and trained security agents are worth the investment – no matter the size of your organization. One violent employee can cost your business millions. The Department of Justice estimated that the cost of workplace violence to employers was approximately $6.2 million dollars, which can include the aggravation of lawsuits, compensation claims and loss of productivity. It also puts your company under the spotlight for being unsafe and irresponsible. However, most workplace violence is preventable by simply having security efforts in place.

No one is immune to workplace violence, which is why it’s paramount to secure your workplace. Lower the risk of a high risk employee before it turns ugly, and hire trained and certified security agents. You’ll gain peace of mind in knowing that if an unpleasant situation does occur, you have someone there protecting you and your business.

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