Three Ways Intelligence and Analysis Adds Value to your Organization

Meredith Wilson is the CEO and Founder of Emergent Risk International LLC

​Risk intelligence is a fast growing private sector profession, aided by growing complexity in the economic, social, and geo-political environment. As organizations struggle to wade through increased threat and risk information and still stay focused on their mission, more are utilizing intelligence providers or building in-house research and analysis functions. Here are three ways this can drive value and increase an organization’s success. 

Targeted, relevant intelligence analysis promotes informed decision-making.

Not all information is intelligence. Not even all high quality information from vetted sources is intelligence. What makes it intelligence is its relevance for the consumer and its ability to further the mission of the organization. A quality intelligence consultant or in-house organization can develop analysis that provides crucial insights for decision-makers by ensuring it is directly relevant to the needs of the decision maker and organization. This can range from tactical information that allows incident management teams to extract employees during a crisis, to management decisions to enter into a business partnership agreement with a foreign business partner. In both cases, and many others, having the correct, most relevant intelligence can be the difference between a negative and positive outcome. 

Forward-looking intelligence analysis drives effective strategic planning.

 When organizations build a strategy, whether for growing business in a new country or constructing a plan for protection of assets, a lack of understanding about the political, social, and security context can render those strategies inefficient at best and a failure at worst. Targeted intelligence, based on the company’s specific goals and footprint, can help decision makers understand the environmental context by providing ground truth and hard data about the area of interest. This information and analysis will help justify a budget decision, orient new market strategy to the appropriate cultural context, and promote cost savings by avoiding mistakes based on erroneous assumptions about the operating environment. Intelligence can also be utilized to help decision makers understand business and government leaders they will work with in a new market, and provide context about relevant political and security issues that will shape the business environment down the road. 

High quality intelligence creates competitive advantage by empowering organizations to identify mitigation measures in environments where competitors can’t or don’t.

Organizations that truly understand ground truth in challenging environments are often able to work safely and effectively in these environments through careful information gathering and mitigation strategies. This intelligence and analysis will help organizations reach beyond the headlines, to understand what their true priorities should be in country. For example, while terrorism has dominated headlines as a top concern for business in France this year, the biggest problem for business in France has actually been almost daily labor protests and work stoppages that have delayed supply chains, shut down businesses, and made business travel in, out, and throughout the country difficult. This distinction earned the country the number 16 spot on a list of the top countries with themost civil unrest – a higher rating that Afghanistan. While both issues require a degree of planning and mitigation strategy, the chances of harm caused by a terror attack in France remain statistically low and disruption is generally minimal except in the immediate vicinity of an incident. Utilizing intelligence to pinpoint key disruption points, build resilient supply chains and plan for delivery of enough product to withstand significant labor and strike disruptions, however, could be crucial to cost savings and remaining competitive in the French market. 

Intelligence adds value.

Simplified, intelligence analysis is really the provision of research and analysis that utilizes robust methodology to ensure integrity, credibility and better outcomes in decision making. While its increasing inclusion in good business practices is a sign that business leaders are starting to understand how powerful a tool intelligence can be, many companies have yet to move away from utilizing gut instinct to guide decision making. As we face increasing global uncertainty, this type of strategy will imperil not only revenue and operations, but most importantly, human lives. Given the relatively modest investment required to acquire high quality research and analysis, or even better, build an intelligence function within the organization; we expect the trend towards intelligence driven decision-making will only continue to grow in the coming years. 

Security Theater: A Dangerous Placation

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An Opinion Piece by Michael Mancino
http://www.tsr-associates.com

Security is both a feeling and a reality. The propensity for security theater comes from the interplay between the public and its leaders.

When people are scared, they need something done that will make them feel safe, even if it doesn’t truly make them safer. Politicians naturally want to do something in response to crisis, even if that something doesn’t make any sense.

-Bruce Shneier

In light of two recent attacks in Florida in the last two weeks I feel it’s important to address a topic that is widely discussed in the security world that most people outside of it are woefully ignorant of.

Security Theater.

We’ve all seen security theater at work. Look no further than our own illustrious TSA. In fact, the quote at the beginning of this opinion piece was spoken in the context of that organization. When we go to a club, a sporting event, even a restaurant, we are often witnessing security theater. Too often our venues attempt to give the impression of safety and security by using flashy uniforms, big men in tight shirts, fancy titles and expensive machinery that most of the staff have no idea how to operate.

Unfortunately, our society is beginning to learn the hard way that such measures are largely ineffective against a determined attacker.

Part of the problem in the security industry stems from an overall lack of training and quality of the guards that are fielded. I challenge anyone to find more than a small handful of individuals working at these events or venues that are career security professionals. More often than not the front line people are chosen because of their looks or their associations with whoever happens to be hiring.

Those of us who make security and safety our lifestyle experience no end of frustration.

We understand that effective protection requires brains, training and forethought. Security theater lacks much of this. Going back to the two incidents in the last two weeks illustrates this well.

Christina Grimmie, the Voice singer who was gunned downed while signing autographs, was not a megastar. I’m not going to sit behind this keyboard and speculate to motives her agent, or manager, or whoever, had in not providing adequate personal protection. What I will do is stress that anyone in the public eye is prone to targeting.

Being that she was at a performance venue there was almost certainly some form of ‘security’ present however it was most likely for show. The assailant was able to walk up to Grimmie and fire on her from a very close distance. Properly trained security personnel could, and should, have identified this individual as a threat or at a minimum discovered the firearm on his person before he was able to enter the venue.

A trained executive protection professional may have identified pre-incident indicators leading up to the attack and avoided the incident altogether.

As far as the Orlando nightclub shooting goes, the only mention of security is two bouncers and an off duty police officer. One of the bouncers, former Marine Imran Yousef, is credited with saving multiple lives. His training and experience in the US Military undoubtedly aided in his reactions and decision making.

Generally, bouncers are not hired for their intensive training in the security industry, and that needs to change. Most clubs will hire bouncers based off of their appearance, whether or not they can handle themselves in a fight or because they know someone. Off duty police officers are often used in clubs, however they are not always the best choice. Police officers are extremely well trained when it comes to reacting to threats, engaging with disruptive persons, etc and are undoubtedly an excellent deterrent and an excellent resource if it hits the fan, however a properly trained security professional arguably receives more training in assessing threats, threat mitigation, and pre-incident indicators than does your average patrol officer.

Again, I have no desire to Monday-morning-quarterback these situations but I take this opportunity to stress that our society needs a change of perception. Dangerous people exist. Whether a lone crazed gunman obsessed with a celebrity, or a terrorist out for blood, violence can and will happen.

As a society we must understand that true safety requires professionals that are able to identify, mitigate, avoid and respond to threats properly. Security theater as it exists now is dangerous and it will certainly be paid for in blood.

I, and all of my associates, am more than happy to assist an organization in discussing their needs. More importantly, we are eager to illuminate those areas that are so often missed when mitigating a threat.

82 security workers hired for Euro 2016 are on terror watch list

Reshared via RT
A new shocking twist in the Euro 2016 saga has emerged just days after stark warnings ISIS would make the event a target. It turns out 82 of the people hired for security posts on the football cup are on French terror watch lists.
FILE PHOTO © Khaled Abdullah

The Directorate General of Internal Security (ISB) has screened a total of 3,500 individuals already hired for the job of ensuring the safety of visitors, according to Le Point. Those among the 82 found on the watch list could by definition either belong to a terrorist group, such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), or have a history of questionable behavior or extreme beliefs on either the left or right.

According to French authorities, some 90,000 personnel in total will be on duty during Euro 2016, including the stadiums, fan zones and on the streets. Of those, 77,000 are police and gendarmerie, while the rest comprise security and military personnel, as well as 1,000 or so volunteers.

“Such a unique event in exceptional circumstances requires extra security measures,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told journalists.

In the meantime, French President Francois Hollande admitted that the risk of a terrorist attack taking place during the Euro 2016 football championship exists.
“This threat will last for a long time. But we must do everything to ensure that the Euro 2016 is a success,” the French president told radio France Inter on Sunday.

The French had made promises that the championship would be entirely secure, and the Mediterranean resort of Nice is set to spend about €1.2 million on preparations, which is almost half the €2.5 million budget, according to Le Point. The city will host four matches.

Each football team will also be given 17 police officers and two agents with France’s elite special forces for extra protection.

Russian police officers will also form part of the international operation deployed to maintain order during the championship. Six specially trained officers will be sent to France, while the need for more rank-and-file boots on the ground will depend on how far the national team gets in the tournament.

Governments of nations with ardent football fans have been warning citizens to exhibit caution, following warnings by members of the intelligence community that the Euro cup increasingly looks like a high-value terrorist target.

“Euro Cup Stadiums, fan zones and unaffiliated entertainment venues broadcasting the tournaments in France represent potential targets for terrorists,” the US State Department said in a warning to its traveling fans. That statement came following intelligence warnings that the Euro, along with seaside resorts and areas with a high concentration of people are all potential IS targets.

Embassies and consulates in Paris have also been reinforcing their premises with extra staff and security.

France has seen a wave of horrific terrorist attacks in recent months that leave many understandably worried about the prospect of security at the upcoming championship, to be held across 10 French cities, starting on June 10.

https://www.rt.com/news/345469-euro-football-terrorist-watchlist/

A Fraud Committed Upon the American People: Fake Health Insurance Plans

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By: George Northrop, MD www.tsr-associates.com

The total amount spent on healthcare in 2016 is projected to be well in excess of 3 trillion dollars. Of this, up to 270 billion dollars will be diverted away from American pockets by health care fraud. These swindles will cost each United States resident over $800 this year alone. To put this in perspective, this amounts to approximately $70 per month. In effect, each of us pays the equivalent of a high-end mobile phone bill to health care fraudsters every month. And the problem is only getting worse.

Of all of the current forms of fraud, one stands alone by virtue of its sinister nature: Fake Health Insurance Plans. Crooked plans promising top tier service and benefits often deliver nothing at all once policyholders attempt to avail themselves of their benefits. Victims face bankruptcy and homelessness due to such blatant scams. The ultimate extent of Fake Health Insurance Plans is currently unknown, however they have become extremely pervasive, saturating nearly every state. In fact, some fraudsters have been so bold as to run television ads with 800 active telephone lines selling phony coverage. As usual, the elderly, infirmed and uninsured suffer most. However, due to the absurd complexity and uncertainty of the U.S. health insurance market, all Americans remain at risk.

Criminals exploit confusion over health care insurance and health care reform to their advantage. While they buy mansions and take expensive vacations, honest, hard-working Americans see their health endangered and their lives stolen away by debt. Governmental agencies and private insurers attempt to combat these criminals, but bureaucracy and inefficiency too often prevail. Even when criminals are prosecuted, victims are rarely reimbursed in a meaningful or restorative way.

Hiring a Private Investigator who understands and specializes in health care fraud is a powerful mechanism by which victims may pursue legal and financial satisfaction. This is especially true when the legal system seems too slow or overburdened to assist victims within the timeframe that they require. Prosecutable information obtained by Private Investigators on behalf of victims can often be used to the advantage of the victim and ensure that he/she is at the front of the line with regard to reimbursement. It also ensures that victims have the chance to face their tormenter and explain to them what needs to be explained prior to justice taking its course. And this is the right of every American.

If you have been or suspect that you are the victim of a Fake Health Insurance scam, contact TSR-Associates. We have a medical doctor on staff to answer your questions and formulate a plan to help. Together, justice can be found.

Taliban 2.0

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As the war on terror rages into its 14th year gains and losses echo throughout the campaign. In Afghanistan the Taliban was swiftly defeated only to reemerge a short time later. Questions abound as to why the Taliban has been able to regroup and reemerge as a significant threat to stability. Our ally, Pakistan, has also been under the microscope by US intelligence officials and has even been accused of aiding the Taliban domestically.

The relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan is a long and convoluted one. Depending on the point of view, the Pakistani government has been a steadfast supporter, or a staunch antagonist, to the Taliban. Currently, there is some question as to whether or not the Pakistanis are playing both sides of this conflict; supporting America as an ally in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) or helping the Taliban by providing intelligence support and safe haven.

Determining what role the Taliban plays in Pakistani politics and whether or not there is a greater threat to their current government and its support for US interests is a daunting task. To begin, it is important to look at the history of the two before analyzing current trends.

Brief history of the Taliban and its relationship with Pakistan

The Taliban emerged as part of the Mujahideen movement during the Soviet invasion which began in 1979. In 1994 the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan shortly after the ejection of the Soviets. With the promise of restoring peace and security in Pashtun areas surrounding the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Taliban rose to prominence and enforced strict adherence to Sharia law.

Pakistani funding and supply was critical to the Taliban movement and its rise to power. With assistance in the form of weapons, military training and financial support the Taliban was able to capture several Afghan cities. In 1996 they successfully took control of Kabul.

During the Taliban’s reign prior to the US invasion, from the 1990’s to 2001, Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized the legitimacy of the regime, the other two being Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. At the height of their involvement, the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency, (ISI), was supplying the Taliban with hundreds of military advisors, small units of their Special Services Group, and thousands of Pakistani Pashtuns to man its infantry. Following international condemnation for harboring Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, they were the last country to break diplomatic ties with the Taliban.

Pakistan/Taliban relationship post-GWOT

Since the beginning of the GWOT there has been suspicion that Pakistan has been playing both sides; an ally to the US on one side and secretly aiding the Taliban on the other. In general, the central Pakistani government has been the supporter of the United States, while the ISI is accused of, at best, being sympathetic to the Taliban cause and at worst, giving them aid.

A 2012 study published by NATO alleged that, following their toppling by coalition forces, ISI support for the Taliban was crucial to their reemergence in 2004. Without Pakistani assistance, it said, there would have been no hope for rebuilding a Taliban capable of combating the US and her allies.

Allegations of ISI involvement with the Taliban predate the 2012 NATO report. In a leaked report in 2006 the British Defense Ministry stated

“Indirectly, Pakistan through the ISI has been supporting terrorism and extremism.”

In 2008, Afghan officials accused the ISI of plotting a failed assassination attempt on then President Hamid Karzai, as well as insinuating their involvement with a terrorist attack on the Indian embassy. Indian officials also laid blame the attack on the ISI. In 2009, Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates said in an interview with 60 minutes:  “To a certain extent, they play both sides.”

Taliban/ISI political influence in Pakistan

Accusations this year have brought up the idea that the ISI, which is responsible for dealing with external threats to the country, has been increasingly meddling with internal politics. Insiders accused the military and the ISI of stirring up political turmoil amidst accusations that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power via fraud.

Representatives Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qudri accused Sharif’s government of rigging elections. Khan’s former party president, after being removed from power by Khan, stated that the party has been working closely with the ISI to undermine Sharif’s government with the promise of new elections should he be successfully ousted.

Pakistan political expert Aqil Shah said the military establishment is stirring up violence to send a message to parties not to meddle with them lest they face severe consequences. By manipulating anti-Sharif representatives the military seeks to position itself to be an arbiter for change. Once Sharif is out of the picture the ISI and the military can exercise greater control over the political process.

Stepping in to fill the void in poor areas lacking healthcare infrastructure, education and civic amenities, the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-i-Taliban-Pakistani (TTP) has a long and enduring presence along the outskirts of the country in the federally administered tribal areas (FATA). Other accusations that the ISI and the Taliban are in bed spring from the perception that the Taliban is affecting the political process via intimidation.  According to liberal politicians, Pakistani Taliban have been increasing their attacks on the liberal parties. A former official from the Awami National Party stated he was forced to leave Karachi after 25 of his offices were threatened by Taliban forces. A senior Karachi police officer said that the Taliban are swiftly expanding their influence amongst the poor suburbs as well as the city center.

The Awami National Party (ANP), The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) have all been targeted for their secular platforms and opposition to Islamic extremism. As a result, they are unable to run effective campaigns and voters are intimidated come election time. They inevitably suffer defeat at the polls due to diminished support thus increasing TTP influence.

The Taliban’s influence is not limited to political persuasion, however. In suburbs across Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub, Taliban “courts” have emerged to settle disputes amongst residents. The fact that these courts are operating at all suggests that the public is becoming increasingly tolerant and sympathetic to Taliban presence. Their influence has the potential to shift political support in their favor as they extend into major cities like Karachi. Such power shift is a major concern for the US and its allies since they rely heavily on Pakistani support in the tribal regions.

Recognition of the Taliban is not limited to a growing number of Pakistanis either. In the summer of 2013 the government of Qatar agreed to let the Taliban open an office in Doha. This office is complete with the Taliban flag flying high above its doors and signs proclaiming it to be representative office to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. The concern with this is obvious. Rather than treating them as a terrorist group responsible for the Afghan insurgency, the Qatari government is essentially acknowledging the Taliban’s legitimate claim to Afghanistan. This acknowledgement could do irreparable damage to the US backed government in Afghanistan and help to legitimize the Taliban struggle internationally.

Ramifications of increased Taliban influence in Pakistan

Should the TTP gain enough influence in the Pakistani government it could spell disaster for US operations in the GWOT and specifically in operational capacity throughout the Afghan and Asian theater. Pakistan has been an ally to the US in the sense that they allow us to conduct some operations along and across their borders. They are also recipients of billions of dollars in US aid meant to combat extremism within their own nation. As the US continues to draw down its forces in Afghanistan other questions have emerged: what role will Pakistan play in the Afghan theater and what is the military to do with the thousands of tons of supplies and equipment left in the country?

As we are now seeing in Iraq, the void created by a vacating US military could potentially leave significant assets to an enemy should they take the fight to a weakened post-US government. Pakistan and Afghanistan haven’t enjoyed the warmest of relationships since the toppling of the Taliban. Should the Taliban in Pakistan gain enough power and influence over the Pakistani government it is conceivable that their support for the Afghan Taliban will increase. With such support from the Pakistanis, the Afghan Taliban will be a serious threat to the stability of the fledgling and relatively weak central Afghan government.

A Taliban-controlled Pakistan could also spell disaster for regional stability. Pakistan is suspected of having hundreds of tactical nuclear weapons. Should the Pakistani military and the ISI ultimately back a coup in the country, and the TTP come to further prominence, the risk of these tactical nuclear weapons falling into Taliban hands is unacceptable. Many have speculated that the US has a contingency plan for dealing with such a threat, however top defense officials have denied such a plan exists and said that these reports are oversimplified.

A nuclear Taliban would most likely result in instant conflict. It is highly unlikely that India, Pakistan’s biggest foe in the region and a nuclear power itself, would allow such an eventuality. The ISI is suspected of supporting terrorist actions in the disputed Kashmir region of India and Taliban influence over the ISI could increase such support and lead to further escalations. To add insult to injury, Pakistan receives significant aid from China. This aid is often viewed as an annoyance to India since China and India do not have the warmest of relationships either. Furthermore, in 2013 Pakistan handed over control of the Gwadar port to the Chinese Navy. The port is a significant strategic asset to the region. Commerce flows in and out of the port annually. Control of the port by China could also mean hosting of significant Chinese military assets in the region.

In any event, Taliban influence or control of the Pakistani government is an eventuality that all interested parties should be wary of. Pakistan’s potential to meddle in the affairs of post-US Afghanistan, possession of nuclear weapons, poor nuclear security and relationships with international players that are not friendly to Western interests could destabilize an already fragile region. The vacuum created by vacating US forces could be filled by any number of unfavorable regimes from the Afghan Taliban to the Chinese. In any event, destabilization of the region would mean significant injury to US economic and strategic interests.

Sources

http://www.hawaiireporter.com/taliban-claims-responsibility-for-pakistan-attacks/123

http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/editorial/why-pakistan-is-still-important-to-the-us

http://www-pub.naz.edu/~aamghar6/History%20of%20the%20Taliban.htm

http://www.dw.de/pakistans-new-isi-chief-and-the-militarys-face-saving-act/a-17948121

http://www.dw.de/analyst-pakistans-military-seeking-to-destabilize-government/a-17893659

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/09/4-reasons-the-pakistani-taliban-is-winning/

http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/pakistans-new-generation-terrorists/p15422

http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/isi-terrorism-behind-accusations/p11644#p1

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/world/asia/26isi.html?_r=0

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63647

http://www.dw.de/taliban-want-their-sympathizers-to-win-elections/a-16778547

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11451718

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-21343397

http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/08/26-pakistan-influence-over-afghan-taliban-riedel

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21586865-violence-undermines-hopes-reconciliation-islamists-cold-shoulder-sharif

http://southasia.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/05/05/pakistan_s_tactical_nukes_threaten_stability_in_south_asia

http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/pakistan-s-nuclear-security-faces-insider-threat/article1-1231378.aspx

http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/why-almost-nobody-likes-news-about-pakistani-nuclear-security/

Ferguson: A Security Operator’s Perspective

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By Sarge Gish, CPS

“The name Columbine is now synonymous with all school shootings just as the name Ferguson will now be associated with all civil disorder and protests”

I was asked to write an after- action report about my time in Ferguson for one of my friends who has a security blog. I felt time was on my side, since I had another detail to work shortly afterwards and the holidays were just around the corner. Little did I realize that Ferguson would be the beginning of a national period of social unrest in the country. Given the lack of moral responsibility among civilians to confront crime, resulting in destruction and mayhem, in many areas of the country the veneer of civilized behavior has been rubbed off. Unfortunately, from my point of view, I predict there will be plenty more non-peaceful protests. Currently, there are a lot individuals in this country who feel they can control or change how the rule of law is administered. I am not a Sociologist and do not intend to explain why people feel the way they do. Instead, I’ll stick with the elements of working a media protection detail.

Risk & Threat Assessment:

Being called upon to work an armed site security detail for a national security firm in St Louis the week heading into the Darren Wilson Grand Jury indictment, I had no idea what to expect. As everyone knows there were two waves of protests in the town of Ferguson and the city of St Louis.

I will refer both incidents as round 1 (Aug. & Sept. 2014) and round 2 (Nov. & Dec. 2014).

Not being on the ground for round 1, most of our risk and threat assessments were based off of intelligence from those incidents.

Our job was to evaluate one individual or group in order to make a determination whether or not the protesters had the potential to become violent against the news crews we were protecting. Also, the prevention of unintentional injury and embarrassment to the crews was a priority.

Knowing that there were viable threats in the weeks before the grand jury convened, we were better prepared to mentally plan and coordinate our moves, and equipment to bring.

The building I was securing (a major health insurance provider) was located downtown and under no immediate threat. Our intelligence indicated there was no apparent danger for the personnel there.

I had agreed to work for another security firm that was working directly in Ferguson which was associated with a local company named Triangle Sentry. This company was given the assignment of protecting Al Jazeera America and the Fox News crews.

The company is owned by and employs individuals who are ESI graduates. Being from ESI myself, I instantly recognized how much of a professional organization it is and felt comfortable with them having my back.

Advance:

I had taken the Monday afternoon of November 24th off to try and conduct reconnaissance and build intelligence data. Also, this was the day the announcement of the verdict was to be read. Little did I know that this was the night we would be able to determine a threat assessment for the rest of the week.

There was no one out on the street  in front of the Ferguson Police Department except two protesters. The coffee shop down the street was” business as usual” with the local citizens sitting around talking about the anticipation of a peaceful night and week.

Later in the evening when St Louis prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch was to announce the decision by the grand jury, I decided to leave the downtown area, which was still relatively calm, and go eat out on the main drag of West Florissant.

As the night progressed, you could feel the tension in the air. Within hours after the decision not to indict was made public, I stood on the corner of Chambers and West Florissant and watched a Mobile convenience store get looted. Shortly thereafter, gunfire was erupting up and down the street and stores were starting to burn. I left the area immediately knowing the Walgreen’s store in front of me was going to be the next target.

My advance was done. I had seen the violence that was predicted. It was time to help out the team (Triangle Sentry), which was already protecting the news crews that were already out there.

Mission and role of the Protection Assignment:

The news crews we were attached to had about 4 teams, each consisting of a correspondent, producer, and cameraman. They were constantly on the go, navigated by a higher up who was monitoring scanners, twitter feeds, and cell phones looking for any evidence of contention.

If you’re lucky, you can ride along with them. Otherwise, you need to follow as closely in your own POV and be ready to go.

Once you arrive at the site, you must make sure all your equipment is accessible along with the rest of the crew’s. As with any job associated with security, you must walk a fine line as to what you are allowed to do. Of course, we cannot physically restrain someone or display, threaten, or use our weapons unless it becomes a last resort.

Our job is to protect.

Though you are protecting the whole crew, the cameraman will be your main priority. It is their job to make sure they get the shot for the whole world to see. They are going to go into the middle of crowds of angry protesters to get it.

It is important to be within arm’s reach at all times and have a hand on their back to control their direction and balance.

You must be able to pull them out of situations when harm is prevalent.

Between the two waves of protests a rule called the “Keep Moving “ rule was implemented by the St. Louis County police, which prevented people, including the media, from standing still under threat of arrest. An injunction was issued by a Federal District Judge against the practice. But it was widely used during the 2nd round. It was our job to make sure our crews did not fall into that rule.

Unfortunately, one of the security contractors can testify to this. As I mentioned the importance of close contact with the cameraman, he was just far enough away to get caught up in what I call a police line rush into the crowd. Once taken down, they discovered his armored vest and firearm.

Though he was eventually released, he was initially arrested and spent the night in jail.

Planning and Preparation:

Equipment for this kind of violent civil unrest was crucial and must be in quality shape. It was important that all of us were dressed in civilian clothes to blend in with the protestors. So all concealment was vital.

There was no restriction on the type of firearm we could carry, but I would recommend a lighter caliber (9mm or 40) due to the constant movement in and out of vehicles and locations.

Concealable body armor is also essential with a minimum level III certification.

There was a lot of gunfire the first couple of days. But I also witnessed several knives on belts in the crowds as well.

I had a can of Sabre 3 & 1 pepper spray on my belt, which I planned on using for first use of force if needed. Unfortunately, I did not have the one piece of equipment that would have been helpful: a protective mask.

I noticed right away all the news crews had them. I was under the impression that I would not

need one until I got tear gassed, not once, but twice.

You do not need a military style mask, however. A common household cleaning respirator is sufficient.

Mental preparation is essential in being able to accomplish the task of protecting the media. You are dealing with unimaginable hatred by individuals who have no conscience as to what they are saying or destroying.

A prime example of this would be the security contractor I was working with. I’ll describe him as late twenties, reservist police officer from rural Ohio who never had to deal with this type of situation. His training was focused to serve and protect the citizens of his jurisdiction with any means possible, including use of force.

Unfortunately the morning after all the devastation from the first night, a group of black individuals confronted the Aljazeera news crew he was protecting demanding they go home. Thankfully, a St Louis County patrol came by to break up the demonstrators. He felt vulnerable and unprepared to deal with situation.

He went home that night.

The ability to maintain confidentiality with the news media is as important as having a firearm on your side. I noticed the Fox cameramen would take their logos off the cameras before we would go out. I wasn’t aware of such hatred towards them until hearing the verbal abuses directed about them in the crowds.

Also, I found it was important to let some in the crowd know you are with the media, just not what your specific role was.

A good example of this is when a large group of white and black individuals thought I was law enforcement. I was working with the Fox crew one night and the cameraman had struck up a relationship with one of the higher ranking (Capt.) Missouri State Police Officers during round 1. The Captain ( who I will not give out the name) pulled into the parking lot we were in with his patrol vehicle to give us a update as to what the night looked like. Unfortunately, the parking lot was in front of the Ferguson police station where all the protesters where.

They had seen us talking to him. They automatically assumed I was a cop assigned to the crew.

We left.

Lessons Learned:

The ability to protect principals in an unpredictable crowd is a skill that must be practiced before execution. The majority of private security contractors are current or prior military or law enforcement and have had experience with unruly crowds. Not only is it a constantly changing dynamic of violence, but also a show of embarrassing actions, directed at organizations and businesses that protesters are affecting. So it is important that we, in the security industry, constantly prepare ourselves and study the ever- growing changes in the world of social and civil disobedience and protests.

We must assure ourselves at all times that we are appropriate while working media protection. And, most often, appropriateness is determined by a threat assessment and preparation.

As Rick Colliver states in his book Principal Protection: Lessons Learned, it is important to remember diplomacy, alertness, and professionalism.

An inappropriate response to a situation is the fastest way to unemployment.

In the future we hope there will be ongoing discussions of media protection for management and increased planning. My recommendation for anyone who works these details is to be involved with the discussions and participate

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– Fox News crew with Producer, Cameraman, Correspondent, and Myself