April 21, 2021

Why do we have to have a knee-jerk reaction…to everything?

Written by Robert D. Sollars

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It’s a phenomenon that I have questioned, been exasperated, and irritated by for nearly thirty years, since I really began studying workplace/school violence, and before that with ordinary security issues.

When an incident of violence occurs in the organization (WPV/SV), supposed police brutality, a ‘typical’ murder, and then this virus, occurs, nearly everyone thinks that solutions must be ready to implement …instantaneously, if not before.

Many people ask why we weren’t prepared for violence, even if it is running rampant, and the companies have no definitive answers…which opens them up in court for litigation, and that litigation could easily put them out of business.

The knee-jerk solutions that are presented are nearly impossible to implement, effectively, and financially irresponsible to literally everyone who pays taxes or gets a paycheck from these organizations. Unfortunately, they also do little to solve the problem. They are nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction and window dressing to appease the public who hopefully will ignore the fact that nothing is accomplished to solve the overall issues…now or in the future.

Why does this happen? I think the answer is simple…the organization is attempting to cover up their lack of fore thought, planning, & foresight, with proper security protocols so they can mollify the people who were affected, a knee-jerk reaction and are embarrassed that they were “caught with their pants down”.

It happens in virtually every WPV/SV incident I have heard or read about in the past 30 years. When WPV/SV began making news headlines in the mid-80s, there were some knee-jerk reactions, which did some good making employees/students feel safer for a while. The incident was then scrutinized logically and the solutions were the best we could do with that knowledge of violence and level of understanding.

99% of all violent incidents will result in millions of dollars being spent and balloon juice blown for no returns and no solutions. Some of these proposals go way too far and spend hundreds of millions of dollars. They aren’t fully thought out and are incomplete or worse, too far overboard, which makes them a “soon-to-be-dropped” program, spending resources on technology that won’t satisfy what needs to be done…except in the short-term…if even then.

There is no reason to have a knee-jerk reaction to any incident of violence inside any organization. The exception is those individuals who wish to rabble rouse, blame others, and cause mass mayhem & chaos…as in riots over trivial issues, with vandalism ensuring even more destruction & mayhem. What we need is careful, thoughtful, logical, thought out, and deliberate actions to ensure to lower the risk and lessen liability.

Those organizations that suffered through an incident, did not have a thorough security plan in place. If they did, somewhere by someone it was allowed to be pushed aside because it was more convenient for the people involved. A risk assessment was never fully completed or reviewed, which is a major faux pas, and that is the failure of thinking that it can’t happen to us, despite the likelihood of being remote.

Organizations spend thousands or millions after an incident to comfort the families of those murdered, wounded, or traumatized. Then they make the changes that they figure will have the largest public relations bang for the buck. Usually, the money initially spent or allocated is wasted on bullshit items that have no relevance to the security program and making it safer. It does take into account the emotional drama by family members, employees/students, & friends to placate them into not taking further action, be it legal or protesting.

After a few months, possibly even just a few weeks, these new security restrictions are again allowed to become lax, and eventually, they are forgotten altogether. You don’t think so? Read these examples from my career and recent events:

After 9/11 the security company I worked for was literally inundated with requests for extra coverage and new coverage. They turned down about 4,000billable hours a week due to a lack of manpower. Quite a boom for the security industry at that time, we could have hired hundreds and put them to work.

In the months that followed, the clients who had increased coverage called the office and canceled all of their extra coverage, some canceled security altogether. Why? Because the employees began complaining that it was too restrictive and hindered their work…the same employees who cried for extra security because they were too scared to attempt to travel or actually work after the terrorist attack.

In Parkland Florida, students, parents, teachers, and nearly the entire community called for stricter security measures at the school. The school district instituted some measures that are non-intrusive, fairly inexpensive, and made the school safer such as clear see-through backpacks.

Less than 6 weeks after implementing these new policies, the students, teachers, and some parents began complaining that it was too restrictive and infringed on their personal freedom and freedom of speech because you could see what was in their backpacks.

These types of knee-jerk reactions happen and get repealed, at nearly every single incident of WPV/SV that I have heard about and followed up with. There is a happy medium between having totally open campuses and locking them down in a Soviet-era gulag.

Unfortunately, in this world of easily offended individuals with “hearts breaking at every moment” and their “peaceful protests” against anyone and everything except the lack of responsibility and accountability by…everyone, we are left with knee-jerk reactions. Until we begin to realize that we need to have a complete and thorough security assessment and implement inexpensive and fruitful measures they will continue.

Inexpensive and fruitful? Yes, inexpensive and fruitful. There are innumerable ways of ensuring that your organization is safe and secure without spending thousands or millions of dollars. I instruct companies how to spot the warning signs of WPV, it costs nothing except for the training time. 2 clichés that I have used for decades are the start of them. Utilize them and the knee-jerk reactions will stop, if not at least be slowed down and not waste money.

“It can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason”

“We either choose to act upon or ignore the warning signs”

It happens to Anyone…Any Time… Anywhere… For any Reason

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear

Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.

Copyright 2021 Robert D. Sollars

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