This article is the third in a series of Q&A's between RILA's Senior Vice President of Retail Operations Lisa LaBruno and featured general session speakers who will present at the 2016 Retail Asset Protection Conference.
After the Paris Attacks: The Changing Face of the Active Shooter
In the aftermath of the tragic attacks in Paris, the dialogue about active shooters among retail asset protection executives has shifted from a lone gunman who enters a store, to multiple shooters intent on causing mass casualties. What can retailers do to be ready for attacks in this new threat landscape?
At the 2016 Retail Asset Protection Conference, Michael Balboni, president & managing director of RedLand Strategies, will share insights into the current U.S. threat landscape, lessons learned from the Paris attacks and ways to enhance your company's retail security strategy. Michael recently sat down with Lisa LaBruno, senior vice president of retail operations at RILA, to answer her burning questions ahead of his session, After the Paris Attacks: The Changing Face of the Active Shooter.
LL: What factors or events do you attribute most to the shifting threat landscape in the United States?
MB: The threat landscape continues to evolve. The attacks of 9/11 introduced the nation to a cell operation, funded and supported by a non-nation, asymmetrical organization. The response to those attacks focused on preventing a repeat of that attack vector. Though Al-Qaeda has engaged in messaging across the globe in an attempt to recruit individuals or groups who would attack the West, the majority of these attempts required overseas travel for radicalization and training to occur. It was the travel that allowed U.S. agencies to track and stop many of the attacks before they became operational.
Though these types of attacks are still possible, the self-radicalized attackers have added a new complexity, as demonstrated by San Bernardino. The most difficult thing for law enforcement now is to locate and surveil individuals and intercept them at the point where the aspirational goes operational. This is a huge challenge.
LL: Where are the biggest gaps in retailers' security strategies?
MB: We are a free society that prizes its freedom of commerce and the anonymity of the individual. Nothing expresses this desire more than the ability to walk into the store of your choice, when you want to, and purchase what you want. Though most Americans appreciate and accept the need for security, they are not willing to undergo weapons searches and heightened security at our malls and major retailers without a specific and credible threat. But even if there was such a threat, there are simply not enough resources to protect every retailer. This is why retailers must take security best practices and planning into their own hands. This should not be a one off, however, because this is not sustainable. A better approach is to "bake in" security, and design protocols that don't only address an active shooter threat but also reduce theft and better prepare for different types of emergencies through planning and exercising.
LL: Are retailers "soft targets" for terrorist attacks? What can retail AP executives do to mitigate risk?
MB: Unfortunately, retailers that have large groups of people present, especially malls and shopping centers, are soft targets. The attacks in Mali demonstrated this fact with brutal effectiveness. By assessing vulnerability, coordinating security with other retailers and creating awareness among workers, retailers can better improve their readiness for an active shooter incident.
LL: What learnings and practices from your time as a leader in New York security and politics have you applied to your current role as president & managing director of Redland Strategies?
MB: When I was the Secretary for Public Safety in New York, I literally had outside my door a line of vendors wanting to sell security equipment to the state. From this experience, I learned that before a purchase was made, the technology had to be vetted and found to be effective, useable, sustainable and scalable. In addition, I learned that even the best emergency management plan is virtually useless if it is not exercised and tested. I have offered these lessons to Redland clients.
LL: Throughout your career, you've significantly impacted the security, political and government landscapes. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?
MB: I have always sought to be the bridge between different levels of government so that the vast resources of our nation can be coordinated and accessed for maximum effectiveness. This is why I was very pleased to have been the signatory to the first intelligence sharing agreement with our security partners across the Canadian border in Quebec. In addition, when New York Air National Guard Units were being asked to supply Blackhawk helicopters in Iraq, I facilitated an on-the-ground intelligence briefing by the CIA for those units, a first for the National Guard. Lastly, I created "New York Alerts" so that citizens could learn about weather threats real time through multiple communication platforms.
Don't miss Michael's presentation, After the Paris Attacks: The Changing Face of the Active Shooter
, at the 2016 Retail Asset Protection Conference
. Register today