The Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) holds their IMPACT conference every year as an opportunity for security services and loss prevention industry professionals to collaborate on emerging ideas and research to fight theft, fraud, and violence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 IMPACT Conference was held virtually through online media and conferencing software.Because of years of expertise in the field, Brosnan’s Executive VP of Marketing, Eric White, was asked to participate in a panel discussion entitled “Retail Protection During Periods of Civil Unrest.” This section of the conference was sponsored by world leader in materials science and RF security device manufacturer, Avery Dennison.
LPRC’s Research Scientist Dr. Cory Lowe moderates the lively discussion between Eric White and Gary Smith, LPC, Senior Director Assets Protection of retail giant Target as they discuss retail loss prevention and tactics to protect retail stores during periods of civil unrest.
“As the world evolves and tensions continues to grow, we can expect more protests and most likely more riots. It’s important to protect not only our customers and our employees but our stores and our properties as well… This will be a discussion on the history of civil unrest and what we are seeing today. It includes best practices for preparing during these periods of unrest, how to recover and how to rebuild.”
The discussion covers social unrest in terms of the emergency response cycle, common pain points and how they can be avoided, and what the security services industry can do to more effectively respond to existing and emerging threats moving forward. Watch the entire video here:
Risk Mitigation During Periods of Civil Unrest
Studies suggest that historically after every pandemic there is a period of social unrest. It is also been common that during periods of high unemployment, we have experienced higher instances of civil unrest. Today, retailers have both of those things working against them. Add the additional high stress socio-political events like the recent 2020 Presidential Election and we have a tinderbox situation staring us in the face.
There are ways to mitigate risks if you have a clear understanding what those risks are. It is important to understand what the likelihood of a flashpoint event happening is, to the degree that you can predict it. There are approximately thirty urban locations throughout the United States where, according to various prediction models, have a higher probability of a civil unrest incident taking place than in other locations. However, those models are not always accurate; for example, violence erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin after Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot and injured by the police, leading to a series of protests and riots throughout the city and around the country in August 2020.
Events like the ones in Kenosha teach us that periods of violent civil unrest can happen almost anywhere and at any time. It is an important aspect of security planning and risk mitigation for civil unrest situations for retailers to acknowledge that there are unknowns and variables that exist that make it not as straightforward as having a store located in hurricane alley. Most retailers are very comfortable with hurricane season. No one likes the prospect of a severe storm, but they are comfortable in dealing with it because there is a history that has led to lessons learned and the evolution of better prediction technologies and emergency response plans. That just is not true in civil unrest - at least not as easily. (Accurately predicting a definitive flashpoint for a civil unrest event is close to impossible, but it is possible to evaluate the precursors to unrest to determine the potential for an event to occur. This is one goal of the security industry’s latest innovation known as Intelligence as a Service.)
What makes civil unrest unique from a mitigation standpoint is that it is not just the Chief Security Officer involved in the planning and response conversation. In Retailers, dealing with issues leading to civil unrest is really a CSO and CEO-level conversation because their brand image is on the line. How a retailer prepares, how they are involved in incidents, and how their companies are perceived through a civil unrest event in today's environment are all extremely important. It is not just what happens; it is also about how you respond and recover. It is hard to proactively plan for those instances, so when something bad happens, most companies are reactive and then often worried about their reputation and what they are perceived to stand for.
Therefore, the mitigation part of the cycle should include every senior leader in a retailer organization coming together and answering these questions:
- How are we going to deal with socio-political issues?
- What are our plans for dealing with some of those potential issues, as unlikely as they may seem?
This is what makes civil unrest unique in security planning. The stakes are typically much higher and making errors - even well-intentioned ones - can unfortunately have long, lingering, and costly effects.
Prepare for the Unexpected
If you have questions about how to prepare your company and employees for possible periods of civil unrest, you are not alone. In fact, we help companies of all sizes develop their security action plans every day. If you would like to learn more about planning for civil unrest, please download a free copy of our new guide, Security & Civil Disobedience: Protecting Your Business During Protests and Demonstrations which explores the best security services and discusses the Top Seven Ways to Protect Your Business During Times of Civil Unrest.
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