Washington, DC – During a briefing on vigilance in the wake of recent terrorist attacks, employers and government officials in metropolitan Washington were advised to adopt strong security measures and always report suspicious behavior to law enforcement officials.
“The harder the target becomes (meaning the better a security plan is), it makes it more difficult for the attacker,” Carl Ghattas, the FBI’s Special Agent-in-Charge for the Washington District Office, said at a special briefing for business and government officials sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), the Greater Washington Board of Trade (BOT) and the American Red Cross of the National Capital Region. He added that one of the lessons of the Paris attack is that stronger security measures can reduce the number of casualties.
Agent Ghattas also outlined the evolution of terrorist practices over the last two decades, and explained that terrorist organizations now focus on recruiting “homegrown, violent extremists” – known as HVEs- via the Internet. Because those individuals often attack on their own timetable, he said it’s important for people to be aware of suspicious behavior and report it to law enforcement.
Top local police officials, including Col. Edwin Roessler, Jr., Fairfax County Police Chief, and Lamar Greene, District of Columbia Assistant Chief of Police, agreed.
“We emphasize ‘See something, Say something,’ but it’s not just about the backpack that’s left unattended, it’s also about human behavior,” said Chief Roessler. “There are often indications that someone might not be well; of mental illness, and we have to take note of that.” Assistant Chief Greene advised “You just have to let us be the ‘tip of the spear’ – we’re the ones who will decide whether to act on the intelligence or not.”
Private security experts – Matt Smith, Director of Security for Vornado and Joe Donovan, Director, Operational Risk, for Beacon Capital, spoke in detail about the importance of a current, well-planned building security program.
They highlighted the need for planning and communication as well as plans to assist law enforcement if there is an incident in a building.
- See Something Send Something - The app is a free suspicious activity reporting (SAR) tool connecting concerned citizens, first responders and law enforcement directly to key intelligence centers throughout the United States.
- Capitalert.gov - This alert system offers critical information during emergencies, with official notifications from local public safety and emergency managers. The alerts are available via text, email, phone, instant messaging or fax.
- Active Shooter Plan Template - This template is a generic fill in the blank and customizable based on sections that may be applicable to your facility.