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The Ongoing Threat of Civil Unrest – And What to Do About It

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By Oscar Villanueva, R3 Continuum:

The ongoing political and civil unrest has undoubtedly created uncertainty for organizations of all types that could be potential targets or in the vicinity of this type of conflict. What does it look like for teams to be “ready” when they don’t know what they might face – directly or indirectly?

How to Prepare for Civil Unrest
Civil unrest represents a risk for individuals and organizations, and while it is often unpredictable there are ways to protect employees and facilities from the direct or collateral damage caused by these events.

The key to remain safe and secure is to actively monitor conditions that could lead to civil unrest, have a security plan to protect personnel and assets, and engage in preventive measures as early as possible once an actual incident is imminent. The following security and prevention tips can help.

Businesses can prepare for civil unrest by:

  • Actively monitoring news reports and social media for demonstrations in the vicinity
  • Ensuring emergency preparedness and business continuity plans are current
  • Having an emergency communication plan for employees and making sure everyone is aware of individual actions necessary to maintain a safe and secure workplace
  • Encouraging employees to report any suspicious activity; in other words, “see something, say something”
  • Ensuring evacuation procedures are current and properly communicated to all
  • Having an alternate site to stand up essential company businesses as soon as possible in case the main facility is not accessible
  • Securing external resources in advance to assist in an emergency
  • Considering supplies necessary to function – such as food and bottled water — and securing those essential items ahead of time
  • Heeding warnings and alerts about impending civil unrest activity

Here are some tips for individuals to keep in mind if confronted with a civil unrest situation:

  • Be alert and practice situational awareness
  • Do not be distracted by your smartphone when out and about
  • Be aware of your surroundings if you are entering what appears to be an unsafe situation
  • Always be aware of escape routes for emergencies, and quickly leave areas of unrest
  • If safety is your priority concern avoid protest-related large gatherings as they may quickly escalate and become an unsafe situation
  • If you suspect an unrest situation, stay away from locations likely to be the target or site of protests like government buildings
  • If violence occurs, evacuate the area as fast as possible and seek shelter
  • And just in case civil unrest disrupts supply chain for critical services, keep your car full of fuel to facilitate evacuation

Following these security tips can help keep you, your family, and your business safe and secure.

In addition, organizations of all sizes should consider undergoing an assessment of their facility to identify and correct security gaps and creating a civil unrest contingency plan to guide the organizational response during this type of crisis. Is your organization ready? Do you have internal resources to create a security strategy? Preparing for civil unrest and other threats to your organization can be overwhelming. R3 Continuum can help. Talk to our team of experts about how to prioritize your security stance.


About the Author: Oscar Villanueva is the Managing Director of Security Services & Crisis Preparedness at R3 Continuum. As a former federal security and law enforcement agent and executive, and now security consultant, Mr. Villanueva has led large scale high-performing security, law enforcement and training consulting missions and operations in several large metropolitan areas worldwide including in the U.S.A., Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa. Mr. Villanueva is currently a member of ASIS International and the organization’s Crime Prevention Council. He has also worked in the ASIS Professional Development Council, where he served as immediate past Chair of the Council’s mentoring program, is a Member of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP), and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

Continuity Insights

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