You know how that old saying goes, and it describes perfectly the myriad resources available concerning municipal security. If you are a state or local government official responsible for the security of your community, the good news is that the internet has hundreds of articles and what-to-do lists to help you achieve your mission. If you have been tasked with writing something salient on municipal security, the bad news is the internet has hundreds of articles and what-to-do lists to help people achieve their mission.
Part of the problem in discussing municipal security issues is their wide-ranging impact and scope. Consider the following. The person or persons responsible for local government security can choose any of the following as the focus of their attention: schools, water supplies, electrical grid, government buildings, airports, waste treatment plants, personnel security (background checks, etc.) and the entirely different subject of cyber security.1 The trouble is, security officials do not get to choose from this menu. Every single issue requires attention and vigilance, all day every day.
Read the articles. Read a lot of them. What emerges is a blueprint for establishing or strengthening your government’s security posture. What they are saying:
• Training, training, and…training. People are the most important factor in the security equation, protecting lives and livelihood. Those same people are also the greatest liability. As one writer stated, “The number one thing causing gaps in physical security, according to most security and facilities managers: People being too polite.” 2 Take any of the areas mentioned above, and they involve people who need to be taught how to contribute to the security of their community.
• Prioritize. It certainly makes no sense to focus on airport security if your town has no airport. A silly example yes. But local governments make similar mistakes every day. Take a close look at your community, talk to neighborhood groups, find out where security is lacking before an incident occurs. Use that information to help you prioritize your efforts. If possible, call in a security consultant and lean on their expertise. Overwatch Security Advisors for instance has worked on security for special events, which have unique issues and solutions.
• This factor falls under what could be called the Lao Tzu principle and his oft-quoted teaching, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Avoid the belief that your community cannot afford security. It can afford SOMETHING that adds to your security posture in a meaningful way.
Security managers have so many resources available, enough to drown in. Those who wade through the materials and how-to’s, will increase their security awareness to the benefit of their community.