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Demonstration and Protest Preparedness for Businesses
Protests have become more common occurrences in the last several years. While they generally have not involved companies themselves, many storefront businesses have gotten caught in the crosshairs. If your area has seen any protests recently, you may wonder if you need to protect your business.
Recent statistics indicate that 95% of all United States protests in the summer of 2020 were peaceful. Still, the ones that become violent are hard to predict. Preparing with the right security measures is the best way to protect your team. In the best-case scenario, you have adequate security in place and will never have to use it. If a protest evolves into civil unrest, you will have the resources you need. Learn what you need to do to bolster security for businesses during a protest.
Determining If Your Company Is Prepared for a Protest in Your Area
Here are five questions to ask as you assess your company’s protest preparedness.
1. Where Is Your Property Line?
As citizens, protesters have the right to assembly and are generally allowed in public places of business. As a business owner, you have the right to protect your property and set your own rules. You may ask protesters to leave if they are interfering with business. If they do not leave, you may legally have them arrested for trespassing. Therefore, it is crucial to know where your property line is, especially if protesters might gather outside your business.
2. What Vulnerabilities Does Your Property Have?
If you operate a store, restaurant, or another company that relies on public access, you will generally have one or several easy entry points. Other vulnerabilities can include a low position, a street-facing property, and proximity to popular locations.
You can also review your strengths. If you have a high position or are relatively isolated, you will have better protection. Your current security measures, like barriers, an access control system, security cameras, alarms, fire protection, and a physical security officer presence, can also help defend your business.
3. What Are Your Emergency Lockdown and Evacuation Procedures?
If a protest develops into an out-of-control situation or emergency, your safety plans will become your greatest asset. You should be able to summarize your lockdown and evacuation procedures. So should your employees. Spend some time fleshing out and clarifying your contingency plans if needed. Make sure your employees know and have practiced what to do.
4. Do You Have a Business Continuity Plan?
A protest could make it hard for your employees to access your building. Or, you could have to close down the facility to protect your employees, clients and property. In either case, you will need a plan to continue operations while your physical location is inaccessible.
5. Do You Have Enough Internal Security Resources?
Having a strong presence on your property can be a crucial resource during a protest. If the local police become overwhelmed, your security officers can act on your behalf. Their visible presence alone can deter violence, looting, property damage, or unlawful behavior. They can also make citizens’ arrests if someone trespasses on your property.
Another crucial preparedness measure is monitoring and gathering intelligence. Your security team should know about planned protest events and monitor social media and other sources for any potential threats. Determine whether you have the resources to dedicate to these tasks or if you need to hire personnel.
Steps to Prepare Your Business for a Demonstration or Protest
When it comes to demonstration security, you can take some basic steps to prepare for any situation. Then, there are some specific steps you can take when you know a protest is coming.
1. Keep up With General Preparedness Measures
Some basic security measures are best practices for any potential situation. Whether a protest occurs near your business or some other threat emerges, it pays to be prepared. Some preparations to make include:
- Plan: Create a building evacuation plan and lockdown procedure and update it as needed. Practice it with your staff at least once a year.
- Prepare for a lockdown: Create emergency lockdown kits for anyone who may be in your building during an emergency. Include supplies such as food, water, and flashlights.
- Maintain a list of employees: Always keep an up-to-date list of all employees, tenants, contractors, and other building occupants. Review that list often and determine who needs access to the building and who does not during an emergency.
- Communicate with law enforcement: Develop a strong relationship with local law enforcement, and involve them in your practice drills.
2. Prepare for Planned Events
When you know a demonstration is coming, position yourself for the best possible outcomes by preparing beforehand. Here is how to prepare for a protest in your area:
- Bolster security: Schedule more security guards before, during, and after a planned demonstration. Ramp up other security measures by tightening access control.
- Check security cameras: Make sure your security cameras are on and ready to record. Check that closed-circuit televisions are working. If needed, position cameras for the maximum field of view around your perimeter.
- Make a transportation plan: For your team’s safety, consider arranging offsite parking and a shuttle to the building. Have security personnel ready to escort people into the building from the shuttle drop-off point. If this is not an option, make sure all visitors have the phone number for security. Instruct them to call an officer for an escort.
- Decide which entrances to use: Depending on the protest’s location, you may want to keep some doors locked and use alternate entries and exits. Communicate which doors your team should use on the day of the event.
- Pinpoint the targeted areas: Map out where the scheduled event will take place. Note which roads will be blocked and what areas surrounding your building may be affected.
- Look for problem areas around your property: Loose bricks, cracked windows, or other items can serve as weapons or allow trespassers an entry route. Repair, replace, or remove any issues.
- Establish a communication system: As events develop on the day of the protest, you will need a way to communicate with building occupants. You could use a phone tree, email, text alerts, automated phone calls, a website status board, or some combination.
- Determine who should telecommute: If there are potential safety concerns, prioritize remote work for any employees who can.
Tips for Preparing Your Business for a Demonstration or Protest
As your business prepares for potential protests in your area, keep these three tips in mind:
1. Know When Events Are Planned
Knowing when an event will occur is the best way to protect your business. Gathering reliable intelligence allows you to predict and plan for the situation instead of letting it catch you off guard. This will involve monitoring news articles and social media posts about scheduled protest events. Organizers often need to obtain permits before a public demonstration, making it easier to know about planned rallies. Some protest groups may not follow these rules, so monitoring other sources is critical.
2. Decide Whether to Close
There are advantages and disadvantages to closing down during a scheduled protest. If you think violence or a disturbance may result, closing down keeps your employees and building occupants safe. However, having a physical presence at your location can deter vandalism. One option is to close down the storefront or have employees telecommute and keep a physical security team stationed around your property.
3. Check Your Insurance Policy
Get ahead of any incident and know what your insurance will cover if you experience any property damage. Some insurance policies may also cover business interruption incidents. Contact your insurance provider to review your coverage. This can also help you speed up the claims process.
What Should Your Company Do During a Demonstration or Protest to Protect Your Assets?
Your team is your greatest asset, and you need to keep them safe during a developing situation. Violent altercations can also put your property and other assets at risk. Ensure you and your personnel know some essential tips for protest safety and how to protect your business from a violent protest. You and your building occupants should:
- Stay inside if the event becomes dangerous.
- Monitor the news and social media as the event progresses.
- Keep nonessential people away from the situation, even when the event is peaceful.
- Never proceed through a group of protesters if met with resistance, violence, or threats.
- Remain nonconfrontational when handling intruders or peaceful protestors, and try to diffuse situations to prevent violence.
- Contact the police if you see signs of violence, looting, property damage, or another credible threat.
- Communicate with building occupants about any incident or detail that may impact their safety.
Protect Your Business With Silverseal
If you are concerned about protecting your business during a protest, call Silverseal. Our team of corporate security professionals can help you prepare for any and every potential threat, including scheduled and unscheduled group demonstrations. An armed or unarmed security presence that includes individuals with military and law enforcement training can deter threats. They can also act as first responders for your business if a local protest becomes violent. Paired with our security technology solutions, we can help you defend against intrusion. With alarms, security cameras, and access control systems, we can help you keep your property, assets, and occupants secure.
Our security team has a presence in major cities, including New York City, London, Denver, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. To discuss your business and security needs, contact our security specialists today. We always have senior management team members available to talk through your concerns. Take control of your security and protect your team with help from Silverseal.