Magazine article Security Management

Teaming Up against Crises

Magazine article Security Management

Teaming Up against Crises

Article excerpt


IN NEW ORLEANS IN DECEMBER 1988 a disgruntled postal employee held police at bay for several hours while barricading himself and holding several hostages. It was only after using appropriate crisis management techniques that law enforcement officials were able to resolve the incident.

How prepared are most security forces to handle the complex tactical problems of barricade and hostage incidents? Many protective organizations, both in government and private industry, are only marginally prepared - or not prepared at all - to maintain stability until local law enforcement agencies arrive.

The proper management of a barricade, hostage, or other type of emergency situation is time-consuming and stressful. To ensure the incident meets with a successful conclusion, several functions must be addressed during the development of a crisis management plan.

One of the first functions is to set up a crisis management team (CMT). The primary objective of a CMT is to ensure the safe resolution of a crisis. The members of a CMT must be prepared to evaluate the dangers involved, identify alternatives, work with outside allied agencies, and evaluate their actions.

Next, a crisis management center (CMC) should be established. The CMT should establish a location for the CMC so managers can carry out their responsibilities. Failure to designate an area for this activity often leads to duplication of effort, loss of control, and failure to record the events of the incident. The CMC should become operational when events require more than routine coordinating operations.

To establish a CMT and CMC, the PORT method should be followed. PORT refers to planning, organization, resource use, and training. By following this method, an organization can develop a CMT and CMC in a short time.

Planning. A CMT and CMC can be formed simultaneously. To accomplish this task, the manager assigned to create the crisis management plan must assess the organizational requirements for such a plan and do a threat analysis. During the needs assessment phase, the manager must review many basic issues. For the CMT, these issues include the following:

* Who will make up the CMT?

* What will be its specific responsibilities?

* Who will the team report to during the emergency?

* Who will be in overall command during the crisis?

* When working with allied support units, who will decide what action will be taken?

Attention must be given to the following topics when developing a CMC:

* Where should the CMC be located?

* Who will have access to the CMC?

* What equipment must be placed in it?

* Should there be an alternate location if the CMC is too close to the crisis area?

* Would a mobile CMC be more economical?

During threat analysis, the plan manager should consider the following:

* What are the nature and degree of the threat to company interests?

* What buildings and equipment are the most critical for the company's business?

* What areas are the most vulnerable to attack?

* How can personnel be safeguarded?

After needs assessment, the next phase of crisis management planning is research. Possibly the best method of initiating a literature review is to obtain current articles on hostage negotiations, crisis management techniques, and similar topics. Not only will the articles provide the reader with valuable information, but a further reading list is often provided at the end of such articles.

Seminars presented by consultants, security organizations, and law enforcement agencies are helpful in this research phase. In addition, the person developing the emergency plan can obtain valuable resource material by visiting colleagues from similar organizations.

Consultants are a valuable asset to any organization since they bring an element of objectivity. …

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