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How to Protect Your Business Against Terrorists

By on June 23, 2016

SAN JUAN—While terrorist attacks appear to be evolving from organized and structured groups to domestic terrorism and leaderless resistance models, businesses and corporations can still go a long way to protect their assets and workers, according to three Police Department officials.

Puerto Rico has had its share of terrorist attacks from political groups throughout the years, but officials said these attacks have evolved into isolated criminal acts, noting as examples the recent shooting at La Fortaleza and the Molotov cocktail attack against a structure in Salinas that injured a police officer.

An attack, however, will never come out of nowhere. The recent attack against the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando in which 50 people were killed, including 24 from Puerto Rico,

This undated image provided by the Orlando Police Department shows Omar Mateen, the shooting suspect at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. The gunman opened fire inside the crowded gay nightclub early Sunday before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (Orlando Police Department via AP)

This undated image provided by the Orlando Police Department shows Omar Mateen, the shooting suspect at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. The gunman opened fire inside the crowded gay nightclub early Sunday before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (Orlando Police Department via AP)

was carefully planned by a lone individual.  People who are planning a strike follow a discernible pattern and the behaviors associated with it can be observed by the trained eye, they said.

Police Sergeant Deny J. Millán said that Puerto Rico is vulnerable to an attack because of its association with the United States. “The global terrorism index establishes the level of probability of an attack and the United States has the highest level,” he said.

On June 1, the terrorist group ISIS announced it would target Latin American countries.

The Police Department was on high alert last week because of the XVII Virtual Educa International Encounter, which brought officials from various countries, a similar situation to when the Spanish Language Real Academy and the King of Spain visited the island earlier this year, Police Captain Carlos Alicea Contreras said.

What can a business do to protect itself from attacks similar to the one that took place in Orlando?

Millán said merchants in specific areas must organize themselves to not only target criminal activity but also possible terrorist attacks.

“They must set up video surveillance systems because they are of great value to crime investigators,” he said.

The business groups must also establish ties with the communities in which they are located for mutual surveillance.

Sergeant José García said businesses must also protect their surveillance equipment and establish security protocols. If possible, merchants must have control of items in a store that can be used to damage people, such as knives or chemicals.

The merchant must also do an analysis of the infrastructure of the business to determine exits and entrances and set up evacuation plans with workers.

Millán said it is important to train workers on how to deal with a dangerous situation.

“What can a worker do during a shooting like the one that took place in Orlando?” Caribbean Business asked. Millán said the employee should try to escape or flee. “We must set a distance or barrier. If there is nothing else to do, then we fight,” he said.

As it happened in Orlando, a person that is planning an attack does a surveillance of the place prior to the event to check for the place’s security and vulnerabilities. Stratfor, an organization that provides strategic intelligence on global business, economy and security, noted that trained security personnel can spot a possible attack by identifying strange behavior or observing the demeanor of an attacker.

Millán agreed with this assessment, noting that when the King of Spain visited Puerto Rico recently, police officers spotted a man whom they believed posed a threat to the monarch. Officials are trained to spot such unusual and erratic behavior that can translate into a possible attack, Millán added.

While employers are not trained for such tasks, he said employers should be attentive to their own employees because sometimes they may be going through personal situations, which in turn can trigger violent outbursts.

García said businesses should also have an exit plan in place in the event of a dangerous or life-threatening situation.

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