Workplace security amid uncertain times

While large cities across the country have unfortunately experienced record violence in recent months, affluent suburbs around Chicagoland - including commercial and retail sections - have not been immune to unexpected threats.

Business owners and executives have a duty and responsibility to prepare for any situation that could jeopardize workplace safety. Fortunately, there are proactive steps that can be taken to help mitigate dangers and secure the welfare of employees and visitors, while also protecting assets and property.

Planning should begin with yearly security assessments, including a review of security personnel roles and responsibilities, infrastructure and overall planning and policies. Such assessments help to mitigate risks while reducing liabilities that might otherwise sit squarely on the shoulders of business leaders who are unprepared for the unexpected.

Regular security assessments can minimize or eliminate risk

Assessments conducted by a professional security firm help prevent accidents, reduce risks and secure a workplace during an emergency. Beginning with the biggest vulnerabilities, they create a heightened awareness of overall risk, leading to recommendations that enhance and strengthen security planning and procedure.

Evaluations like this offer an analysis of day-to-day operations, including reviews of all entrances, exits and other potential access points. Scenarios are also examined to determine an organization's level of preparedness.

For example - during an emergency, such as a riot - are there adequate internal locking mechanisms in place? In the event of a fire, are smoke alarms or sprinklers working properly, and can exits be easily made?

If a natural disaster such as a tornado occurs, is there an alert system to offer guidance and direction? Asking these questions - and many others, are key to being prepared for all situations.

Security risks, personnel and infrastructure

Comprehensive threat assessments provide research on a building or commercial complex, by compiling the latest crime statistics, risks of being targeted, and data from local and state agencies. A physical inspection of a property is also performed to ensure proper oversight and compliance with company policies and best practices.

When on-site security is present, personnel are interviewed to determine current skills. A review of protocols and procedures is also completed.

At this time, a determination is made as to whether additional training is needed, including de-escalation techniques or crisis intervention training. Additionally, security lighting and camera and video systems are audited to guarantee functionality.

Enhanced communication systems, alarms, electronic security doors, access controls and other security infrastructure are also tested and inspected.

Properties that don't employ on-site security should consider outsourcing this function to a professional security firm. These organizations provide on-site personnel or remote guarding, offering real-time surveillance through a security operations center.

This option is often more cost-effective while still providing highly trained security professionals and the latest security technology available.

Emergency and safety planning

The four components of a safety and emergency plan include risk mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. A plan also must incorporate easily updated floor plans, response protocols to potential threats, and procedures for crisis or emergency situations.

Having a plan not only increases safety and minimizes risks, but also demonstrates the due diligence of business leaders who are vested in protecting their people, property and assets. Regular assessments of safety and emergency planning by a professional security firm are highly recommended, as threats continue to evolve during these uncertain times.

• Steve Vitale is the Executive Vice President and Principal for the P4 Companies. Vitale is a subject matter expert in the security field and provides a strategic focus in security solutions, integrated guarding and security preparedness. The P4 Companies, based in Downers Grove, is a professional security firm that specializes in business security services across the Chicagoland and beyond. Services include Corporate Risk Management, Remote Guarding, Security officers, off-duty police officers, remote monitoring and mobile guarding security. Learn more at

Steve Vitale
Photo courtesy of P4 CompaniesContinental Towers, 1701 Golf Road, Rolling Meadows
Photo courtesy of P4 CompaniesPresidents Plaza, 8600-8700 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago
Photo courtesy of P4 CompaniesSecurity Operations Center, P4 Headquarters2801 Finley Rd, Suite 103 Downers Grove
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