Everything and the security and systems integrator players must work closely together to make everything work effectively, according to Jonathan Lusher.

Perhaps no spaces are more difficult to secure than public ones: their very nature implies they invite people in to take pleasure in them. They’re the very opposite of “secure places,” controlled by fences, guards, barricades and access control. The vulnerabilities of public spaces include the whole list and the entire gamut of potential risks: terrorists, criminals, natural disasters, accidents, mistakes and conflicts. Add to this the general wish of users to be relaxed, off their guard, and enjoying the place and time.

The Openness Challenge

Because of the openness of these spaces, both physically and conceptually, the security professional must use a wide variety of tools and creative thinking.  Relying on personnel, technology or physical characteristics alone can never adequately address all the challenges in these contexts. Only by selective use, and constant experimentation can the professional hope to arrive at a successful mix of strategies and tactics which will provide not only safety and security, but a perception of security and safety so necessary to continued use of these places.
It is crucial to remember perception of safety as equally important to the reality of safety. We know, for instance, crime has generally decreased for the past ten years and yet at the same time fear of crime has drastically increased. This cannot be ignored in planning responses to fear as well as actual crimes. The security official must recognize that his or her job is to impart a feeling of safety as well as to actually provide as safe an environment as possible. This requires the use of another indispensable tool not usually discussed in the security world: customer service.

A Total Master Plan is Needed

Security professionals are nowhere else as challenged to be knowledgeable and practiced in deploying all the components of a good security program from public safety officers (never GUARDS!) to camera systems, to crime mapping and crime prevention, CPTED and access management, good liaison with law enforcement, excellent communication skills and just plain common sense.
This special report as well as the roundtable, which brought together end-users and systems integrators, delves into many of these components and can help us all think more creatively and clearly about what might work. But never forget an overriding need to remember all these components require close coordination and seamless application to arrive at good security, however we define it, properly applied to the public spaces into which we invite people to enjoy themselves.

SIDEBAR: Additional Resources

There are numerous organizations serving this important sector. They include ASIS International, the International Council of Shopping Centers and the National Retail Federation, among the biggest.

These professional organizations cover ongoing and emerging issues of interest to people protecting retail, restaurants, public spaces, lobbies and plazas. The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Security Industry Association also are involved.
One essential concern is workplace violence.
And these organizations are responding.
For example, as a part of its efforts to educate and protect retail customers, merchandise and employees, the National Retail Federation’s loss prevention team partnered with the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create emergency response protocols for retailers to react, respond, and recover from active shooter incidents. While these types of incidents are infrequent, their effects are devastating.       

“It is imperative that retailers, regardless of the type of store or size of the company, remain vigilant and aware of dangers,” said Joe LaRocca, NRF vice president loss prevention. “Retailers and malls should be planning for life-threatening incidents to occur at their stores, educating employees on how to handle the situation, and working with law enforcement on a consistent approach to quickly address a situation if it arises.”
The guide serves to educate companies about active shooters, which have become a serious threat in recent years. Basic guidelines for how to analyze the situation and react accordingly are outlined in a way that serves all types of retailers regardless of size.