Educating customers is part of the job

I received a call from a potential client several weeks ago. It seems a production employee had gotten mad, and threatened to shoot several other employees. The caller wanted to know if we could provide security for a couple of days after the disgruntled employee was fired.

I started by asking this caller some basic risk-assessment questions, like whether the employee had a criminal background or history of violence. The response was the company didn’t do criminal background checks, but the employee has “anger issues.”

The caller wasn’t interested in risk management; he was antsy to find a solution to his problem, and how much would it cost him. What price do you put on stationing an armed guard outside a plant to confront a potentially armed and angry ex-employee?

When I told him we were reluctant to place officers in the role of bullet-catchers, he seemed put out that we wouldn’t solve his pressing problem for a couple hundred bucks.

Many people assume as security professionals we each have skills ranging from making good coffee to shooting three-leaf clovers at 200 yards with a Winchester rifle. The truth is the basic role of a security officer is to observe and report. Some officers make good administrators, and some don’t, but every officer needs competent skills of observation and reporting. Beyond that, some officers might develop specialized skills in rock-concert security, workplace violence or personal protection. But these specialized skills aren’t called for day in and day out.

So, the critical role is to fit the right security officer to the right job. As for the caller’s misconception about what we could do for him, I don’t know the end of the story, except my part. I didn’t agree to send an officer out on a high-risk job to fix someone’s problem for a few dollars. (TDH)

Some thoughts on school shootings

When  I was in high school more than three decades ago, there were some students who brought guns to school. A brother of a classmate was shot and killed in junior high school.

I mention this because the recent school shooting in Ohio brings to the fore the issue of safety and security in our most public of institutions – public schools. What have we learned in my time? There are more violent shootings like Columbine and Chardon High School.

We also learn that while shootings in school are infrequent, they are devastating to the community affected.

T.J. Lane, the student who shot and killed multiple classmates, was described  as “a troubled youth.” But a long-time neighbor was shocked when Lane was identified by police as the shooter: “This was absolutely out of character,” he remarked. How can you have such a divergence of viewpoints?

It means it’s hard to identify such students in a world of disaffected students. Lane was caught between parents in a violent divorce, and wrote about existence and death online, concluding: “Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.” He took the gun he used from his grandfather’s barn.

What can we do?

For starters, as a parent, know what the safety and security procedures are at your child’s school. If you think they are inadequate, get involved in changing them. Most schools don’t have on-site security, but rely on safety plans, lock-down procedures and police response. In the Ohio shooting, a teacher chased Lane from the property, and police arrived long after the devastation. (The teacher had a ballistic vest, but was not armed, meaning to act the teacher had to risk being a bullet-catcher.)

If you see a child who is withdrawn or exhibiting unusual behavior in public or online, ask the school administration about it. Monitor your own child’s online activity. I recently heard one parent say his children do not have an expectation of privacy – he monitors computer and phone use, inspects their rooms and knows where his teenagers are – or should be – at all times.

Put in place a reporting system by which your children can be in contact with you at any time. Phones are great, but if you’re in a meeting and cannot respond, what good is the system? Many of the students at Chardon High School communicated by text with a parent – at a minimum giving the parent or parents information, not speculation.

Remember this: Most students who bring guns to school for violent purposes gain access to them from family or friends. Make sure any weapons you have are locked up and not easily accessible to your children, or your children’s friends.

While we may hope for, and work toward, a time when there’s no violence in our schools, the reality is public education reflects our communities and our times. Deal with the world that is, not what we’d like for it to be. (TDH)

Moonlighting LAPD officer charged with thefts from luxury hotel

There’s nothing more frustrating than employee theft, except when the thief is an off-duty officer hired as part of your security plans.

That was the case in Laguna Beach, when a veteran Los Angeles officer was charged in connection with stealing money and items from a hotel’s lost and found (see article, below).

At 45 percent, Employee theft is the highest percentage of retail loss in 2010, according to the National Retail Security Survey. That percentage exceeds even shoplifting (31 percent), administrative errors (14 percent), vendor fraud (4 percent) and shrinkage (1.45 percent). (There’s a 6-percent unknown category.)

What the hotel will also find is that it will be hard to recover from the officer and his department. Most police officers working off-duty have little or no coverage that a licensed private security contractor would have in place for workers compensation and general liability. At least the hotel can call the officer’s friends to come and arrest him. (TDH)

Los Angeles Times

Moonlighting LAPD officer charged with thefts from luxury hotel

March 13, 2012 | 11:56 am

A veteran Los Angeles police officer who was moonlighting as a security guard at a Laguna Beach luxury hotel has been charged in connection with a scheme to steal money and other items from its lost and found, Orange County prosecutors said Tuesday.

Jeffry Paul Quinton, 48, of Anaheim Hills, faces two felonies — grand theft and commercial burglary, said officials with the Orange County district attorney’s office. If convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months behind bars.

Quinton, who was arrested by the Laguna Beach Police Department, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case, LAPD officials said.

A 21-year LAPD veteran assigned to the Central Division, Quinton also worked as a security guard for the Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach.

As part of his off-duty job, he had access to the hotel’s computerized “lost and found” system. In October 2011, authorities said he accessed that system and changed records that showed that hotel staff had recovered $2,000 from a hotel room.

The cash entry was falsified to reflect that a gold watch had been recovered, authorities said.  In addition, Quinton changed the room number where the money was found and changed the record to reflect that the watch was returned to its owner. Authorities said he also stole $960 out of the safe.

Two months later, Quinton covered a surveillance camera in the hotel’s security office with tape for several minutes, prosecutors said. While the view was obscured, he stole $680 out of the safe deposit box in the office, authorities said.

In late January, Quinton is accused of stealing $290 in bedding from a locked hotel storage room and putting the items in his car. Quinton was arrested after Laguna Beach police reviewed security surveillance footage.

The Castle Doctrine and use of deadly force

In the news is the tragic death of Trayvon Martin last week near Orlando, Florida. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch commander, shot and killed Martin after the teenager allegedly threatened him.

Critics of Florida’s Castle Doctrine laws, passed in 2005, are pointing to the fact that Zimmerman has not been arrested. Local law-enforcement and now the Justice Department are investigating. It would be hard to brush this incident under the rug. (My prediction: Zimmerman will be indicted for manslaughter.)

It’s unfortunate that liberal components of the media are assailing what’s known as the Castle Doctrine laws in a number of states, including Arkansas and Oklahoma. It’s based on a man (or woman) is King of his Castle, and does not have to retreat from his castle if someone breaks in to do harm. Another important component of these laws is that no homeowner can be sued civilly for actions deemed justified in the criminal justice system.

It’s hard to see how Zimmerman can claim he was in his castle, since he was patrolling the gated subdivision where he lives. Arguably, he was engaged in activity that should be regulated by the state – i.e. carrying a firearm while protecting his and other people’s property.

But – and this is the point here – the Castle Doctrine does not trump a state’s laws on the use of deadly force. Just like having a concealed carry license (which Zimmerman reportedly possessed) doesn’t invest in you any more authority than a man with rocks in his pocket.

Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to argue to police, a judge or a jury of your peers you were in fear for your life, and had to shoot an unarmed, 17-year-old teenager carrying nothing more threatening than a bag of Skittles. (TDH)

Will there be lessons learned from Trayvon Martin?

A young African-American male is shot and killed outside a residence by an armed security officer. Is this George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin all over again?

Apparently not, even though it was a few days after the Florida shooting that has rocked the nation.

In this Atlanta-area incident, two officers working security at an apartment complex walked several hundred yards off the property to check on an altercation. One armed officer claims he was threatened by an 18-year-old African-American male, and shot him. Both security officers were African-American. Does that take away issues of race?

More problematic is that the officers were armed, but no one can say whether they should have been armed. In Arkansas, you worked security armed only if you are licensed to do so, and the client for which you are providing security, contracts for it. You don’t work armed because you want to, or because it’s not safe. It’s a contractual relationship.

And as another security company owner pointed out, you don’t leave your post to check out something happening off your property. As a security officer, you don’t have responsibility for another property not under contract for your security. There are times to be a good witness, but this doesn’t look like one of those times. (TDH)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Security guard who shot unarmed teen had expired weapons permit

By Christian Boone The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

7:12 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The security guard who left his post late Saturday night to investigate a “suspicious vehicle” and ended up shooting an unarmed teen had an expired weapons permit, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

Ervin Jefferson, 18, was with his mother and sister when the family pulled into their driveway off Pleasantwood Drive and noticed two vehicles parked in front. Inside one car were four females out to settle a score with Jefferson’s 17-year-old sister, Precious, DeKalb County police said.

Jefferson’s mother, Candy Grimes, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution her son went over to investigate. Within seconds, he was felled by a single gunshot to the torso by Curtis Scott, who claimed Jefferson approached him in an aggressive manner.

DeKalb Public Safety Director William Miller said the 18-year-old “possibly threatened to kill” the guard.

Scott has not been charged in the shooting, but police are still investigating.

Among other unanswered questions: Why did Scott, accompanied by fellow security guard Gary Jackson, feel compelled to leave The Village at Wesley Chapel Apartments to investigate a car parked several hundred yards away?

Scott and Jackson work for Shepperson Security & Escort, Kennesaw. Shepperson officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Ben Maner, owner of Guardian Protection Services in Atlanta, said, “I tell my people if they’re on the property to stay on the property. Unless it’s something like a murder or rape, it’s not your place to intervene. That’s not your job.”

Maner said it was also unusual for the guards to be armed, considering where they worked. Usually, he said, if apartment complexes feel the need for armed security, they’ll look to law enforcement personnel, offering them a rent-free residency in exchange for protecting the property.

It’s unclear whether The Village at Wesley Chapel wanted armed guards. A leasing officer referred questions to Jamco Properties, the property manager. Officials with Jamco have not responded to repeated calls seeking comment.

Shepperson, which hired Scott and Jackson, has a current state license to operate. But according to the Secretary of State’s Office, there is no record of Jackson, 26, being certified to work as a guard.

The two men have been released from DeKalb jail, where they were being held on charges of impersonating a police officer. Scott and Jackson illegally detained the young women in the  “suspicious vehicle,” police said.

Jefferson’s stepfather, Bobby Hubbard Jr., 35, was also arrested. He was charged with reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police said he fired at the guards after Jefferson was shot.

Jefferson’s mother said her son’s funeral is set for Saturday, and she hopes by then police will charge Scott in his death.

“He was just trying to protect his sister,” Grimes said, “and they killed him for it.”

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The Dangers of Police Work

Crime in the U.S. has been on a long-term decline, but a recent spike in law-enforcement murders has authorities perplexed. Better training and gear contributed to drops in police fatalities due to violent acts, but vehicle crashes moved to the top.This trend, documented by FBI surveys, just points to the dangers still part of our society, despite less lawlessness.

Don’t hesitate to thank your local officers for taking on a dangerous and in many instances thank-less job. And curb yourself, and others around you, when you get the urge to sass-talk an officer who everyday agrees to run toward danger, not away from it, on your behalf. (TDH)

New York Times – April 9, 2012

Even as Violent Crime Falls, Killing of Officers Rises


WASHINGTON — As violent crime has decreased across the country, a disturbing trend has emerged: rising numbers of police officers are being killed.

According to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 72 officers were killed by perpetrators in 2011, a 25 percent increase from the previous year and a 75 percent increase from 2008.

The 2011 deaths were the first time that more officers were killed by suspects than car accidents, according to data compiled by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The number was the highest in nearly two decades, excluding those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

While a majority of officers were killed in smaller cities, 13 were killed in cities of 250,000 or more. New York City lost two officers last year. On Sunday, four were wounded by a gunman in Brooklyn, bringing to eight the number of officers shot in the city since December.

“We haven’t seen a period of this type of violence in a long time,” said Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly of the New York Police Department.

While the F.B.I. and other law enforcement officials cannot fully explain the reasons for the rise in officer homicides, they are clear about the devastating consequences.

“In this law enforcement job, when you pin this badge on and go out on calls, when you leave home, you ain’t got a promise that you will come back,” said Sheriff Ray Foster of Buchanan County, Va. Two of his deputies were killed in March 2011 and two wounded — one of them paralyzed — by a man with a high-powered rifle.

“That was 80 percent of my day shift,” he said.

After a spate of killings in early 2011, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asked federal authorities to work with local police departments to try to come up with solutions to the problem.

The F.B.I., which has tracked officer deaths since 1937, paid for a study conducted by John Jay College that found that in many cases the officers were trying to arrest or stop a suspect who had previously been arrested for a violent crime.

That prompted the F.B.I. to change what information it will provide to local police departments, the officials said. Starting this year, when police officers stop a car and call its license plate into the F.B.I.’s database, they will be told whether the owner of the vehicle has a violent history. Through the first three months of this year, the number of police fatalities has dropped, though it is unclear why.

Some law enforcement officials believe that techniques pioneered by the New York Police Department over the past two decades and adopted by other departments may have put officers at greater risk by encouraging them to conduct more street stops and to seek out and confront suspects who seem likely to be armed. In New York and elsewhere, police officials moved more officers into crime-ridden areas.

“This technique has become more popular across the country as smaller departments have followed the larger cities and tried to prevent crime,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “Unlike several decades ago, there is this expectation that police matter and that police can make a difference.”

Commissioner Kelly said, “We try to put those officers where there is the most potential for violence.” However, he pointed out that most of the officers who have been shot in New York since December were not part of a proactive police deployment but were responding to emergencies.

Some argue that the rise in violence is linked to the tough economy. With less money, some states are releasing prisoners earlier; police departments, after years of staffing increases, have been forced to make cutbacks.

“A lot of these killings aren’t happening in major urban areas,” said James W. McMahon, chief of staff for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “One of the concerns we are looking at is that a number of officers are being laid off or furloughed or not replaced.”

The police chief in Camden, N.J., J. Scott Thomson, whose force of 400 was cut by nearly half last year because of financing issues, said that having fewer officers on the street “makes it that much more difficult to create an environment in which criminals do not feel as emboldened to assault another person, let alone a law enforcement officer.”

The murder of a veteran officer last April in Chattanooga, Tenn., was typical of many of the 2011 episodes.

Sgt. Tim Chapin, a veteran nearing retirement, rushed to provide backup to officers who had responded to reports of a robbery outside a pawnshop and were under fire. Sergeant Chapin got out of his car and chased the fleeing suspect, who had been convicted of armed robbery. During the pursuit, the sergeant was fatally shot in the head.

As part of the F.B.I.’s efforts to prevent officer deaths, the bureau trains thousands of officers each year, highlighting shootings like the one in Chattanooga to teach officers about situations in which they are most vulnerable. Those situations are typically pursuits, traffic stops and arrests, said Michelle S. Klimt, a top F.B.I. official at its Criminal Justice Information Services Center in Clarksburg, W.Va., who oversees officer training.

“Every stop can be potentially fatal, so we are trying to make sure the officers are ready and prepared every single day they go out,” Ms. Klimt said. “We try and teach that every day you go out, you are going to be encountered with deadly force by someone trying to kill you.”

Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington, and Joseph Goldstein from New York. John H. Cushman Jr. contributed reporting from Washington.

Crime in the United States

For some 20 years, the Institute for Economics and Peace has been reporting on crime in the U.S., using its own measures of violent crime, incarceration, police manpower and access to small arms. For 20 years, Louisiana has been the most violent state. Arkansas this year was 43rd of 50 states, meaning it is close to the bottom of the list.When you view the most violent states, you’ll see that the bottom of the country is at the top of the list – Texas, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana, the southeast states. The Northeast states are the most peaceful. You might call this the Mason-Dixon effect, or the humidity factor. If Maine is frozen half the year, who wants to trudge around doing violent acts? But hot just makes you irritable, and is violence soon to follow?

The institute’s viewpoint on crime is interesting, but the reality is anyone anywhere at any time can be a victim of crime. No one wants to be a statistic, because by then everything’s over but the crying. (TDH)

Louisiana Most Violent State in the U.S.

Tennessee, Nevada, Florida and Arizona round out the top 5 most violent states in the U.S.

By Meg Handley

May 7, 2012

Looking for a peaceful place to visit this summer? You might want to re-route your road trip and steer clear of Louisiana.

According to a recent report from the Institute for Economics and Peace, Louisiana was ranked America’s most violent state for the 20th year in a row, based on homicide, violent crime and incarceration rates, as well availability of firearms.

Louisiana isn’t the only state that has issues keeping the peace. Tennessee, Nevada, Florida and Arizona rounded out the top 5 most violent states, with Arizona recording the largest fall.

Violence in America not only takes its toll on communities and families, but it’s a huge economic drain on the country. The annual tab for violence and its aftermath across America comes in around $460 billion, according to the IEP report, which includes costs for victims’ medical care and the prison system, as well as lost productivity.

The burden to taxpayers varies across the country: In Washington, D.C., the cost of violence is more than $7,100 per resident. By contrast, in Maine—the most peaceful state in the country, according to the study—the burden is around $1,280 per taxpayer.

The study goes on to say that if violence dropped to Maine’s level, almost $275 billion in extra economic activity would be generated, potentially fueling the creation of more than 1.7 million jobs.

But despite some states’ poor marks, nationally things haven’t been more peaceful since 1991.

“What the [report] shows is that over the past 20 years, America has become substantially more peaceful, witnessing a significant and sustained reduction in direct violence,” said IEP founder and executive chairman Steve Killelea in a release.

“Homicide rates in the U.S. have halved since 1991 and the violent crime rate has also fallen by nearly half during the same period.”

The top three states serving as poster children for peace in the U.S.—Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire—are clustered on the country’s east coast. Further west, Minnesota and Utah round out the top 5 most peaceful states.

Meg Handley is a business reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can reach her at and follow her on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 U.S.News & World Report LP All rights reserved.

Crime in the U.S. – 2011

The FBI has released its Uniform Crime Reports for 2011. In general, the picture is good, as crime rates continue to fall in cities across the United States. Violent crime dropped 4 percent in 2011, compared to a 5.5 percent drop in 2010. Nationally, homicides fell 1.9 percent from the number in 2010. Robbery, forcible rape and assault also fell – 4 percent each.

There are some cities that exhibited upticks in crime. Little Rock, where I was born and raised, was cited as the sixth most violent crime of the cities with population exceeding 100,000. (No cities served by Professional Security and Centurion Security were included in the FBI analytical studies.)

Arkansas’ largest city had a violent crime rate of 14.9 per 1,000 residents, with 37 homicides (up from 25 in 2010). Property crimes were down, but forcible rate showed an increase, contrary to the national picture.

There will be rebuttals and hand-wringing to follow, as there usually is when a city – like Little Rock – doesn’t fare well in the FBI figures. Sometimes, the blame is shifted to police manpower or drugs or localized economic problems. Officially, the FBI warns against using its Uniform Crime Reports for comparing metropolitan areas.

I have family and friends still living in Little Rock, and I visit occasionally. So I’m interested from an inside and outside perspective about what happens in neighborhoods and downtown areas. It’s not the city where I grew up, but no one can stop change. The real story here is it doesn’t matter where you are, you can be exposed to crime. Improve your chances of not being a statistic by knowing the bad areas, and being alert to danger where ever you live and travel. (TDH)

Mass shootings: Who has the better plan?

We’re well into the coverage of the latest mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, theater complex, and we’re still not learning much about the motivations of 24-year-old James Holmes.
What we know is Holmes prepared for his killing spree, and prepared well with weaponry, tactical gear and knowledge of the weaknesses of the location.
We probably will never know the motivations, this despite Holmes surviving the shooting. In fact, it looks like Holmes planned to survive, as he finished his shooting and went out to his car, where responding police arrested him without a shot or a fight.
Mass shootings — which the FBI defines as four or more murders occurring during a particular event with no cooling-off period between the murders — get a lot of attention. They are even categorized by location: Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Luby’s.
It’s not without consequence that mass murders pick public places, especially places where there’s little or no security presence and lots of people.
Even the recent development of armed citizens can’t or won’t affect the mass murders. Think about it: Holmes, a highly intelligent post-grad student, planned for months, and invaded a location where people typically feel safe. That’s part of the plan.
What’s a person to do? Give up public outings, wear ballistic armor, become a recluse? I believe what you do is get back up, dust off, don’t let the this urban terrorism – that’s what it is, essentially – beat you down, take away your spirit, rob you of your optimism. But at the same time, never be not aware, and always vigilant. Be ready to fight for yourself or your loved ones, or to play dead to survive.


Some might ask what’s up, with the shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin and now a school shooting in Baltimore on the first day of school.

Maybe we’re hyper-sensitive to mass violence. Maybe there’s something in the air. Maybe it’s the current political environment where people argue and attack, seemingly without provocation.

What’s really at work here is what has been at work. Violence can occur at any time, anywhere. What is your response. People who have studied mass attacks say your options are few, especially when you are less-well armed and less-well prepared than James Holmes or Wade Michael Page.

The city of Houston did a big service with its video Run.Hide.Fight. Those are your options. First run away. Second, if you cannot run, hide from the attacker. Third, when those first two fail or aren’t available. Fight.

In Baltimore, the 15-year-old student was stopped by a teacher. That’s generally the case, according to the consulting firm Hard Tactics, which discovered in a review of 40 mass attacks that citizens stopped the killing in 17 of the 40 incidents. Police response, while better and quicker, can’t get there faster than a person absolutely determined and motivated not to be a victim.

Student Critically Wounded on First Day of School, Teacher Subdues Gunman

By JENNIFER ABBEY and ANDY FIELD | ABC News – 3 hrs ago

A 17-year-old student is in critical condition after he was shot on the first day of school today in a Baltimore suburb and a quick thinking teacher subdued the teenage gunman.

The alleged shooter was another student who was 15, Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson said. The suspect was arrested, Johnson said.

The school, Perry Hall High School, was evacuated.

The 15-year-old student, whose name was not released, walked into the school cafeteria at 10:45 a.m. and fired one shot, the chief said.

A student described the weapon to ABC News affiliate WMAR as a shotgun. Police haven’t confirmed the type of weapon used.

A teacher grabbed the boy with the gun and wrestled him against a wall, holding the gun away from the shooter. A second staffer, a school resource officer, was outside the cafeteria and rushed in to help the teacher subdue the suspect until cops arrived, police said.

“One student has been shot and is being taken to the hospital by medevac,” the Baltimore County Police Department said in a statement.

The school is located in White Marsh, Md., northeast of Baltimore.

Students were evacuated to the Perry Hall Shopping Center where frantic parents went to be reunited with their children there, according to police. Students are also being bused home from the middle school across the street, ABC News affiliate WMAR reported.

It was the first day of school for students. Several roads in the area have been closed and the school is on lockdown, according to ABC affiliate WMAR.