Thu, November 10th, 2011 - 5:47 am - By Gordon Basichis
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The Occupy Wall Street Movement has caused its fair share of consternation to a good many persons and organizations. In certain areas where Occupy Whatever is taking place, small business owners are losing business due to the congregations outside their doors. Often regular customers will not patronage businesses where large crowds are gathered outside or nearby. People are intimidated. It’s that simple, really.
Then, of course, there has been vandalism where various businesses have been damaged or covered with the type of graffiti that may be deemed even more unsightly than the normally graffiti applied by gangs and taggers. In the case of the Oakland Port,s there is trepidation among business owners that holiday orders shipped from Asia and other parts may not be unloaded and passed through Customs in enough time to populate the retail shops that largely depend on the holiday season to get them through the years.
City officials and local governments are concerned about the mess the demonstrators are causing. There is the increased cost of traffic management and overtime for law enforcement. Given the tight budgets in a bad economy, more than a few local governments are concerned where they will find the extra money or if they have to rob from one fund to pay for the unexpected costs.
So, all in all, it’s a mess. Executives are fearful about their companies and their well being. City officials are fearful of what may happen to their cities. There are reports of trouble within the occupied zones and most wonder when if ever, maybe the winter, the movement will dissipate. Maybe. Maybe not.
And of course the large multi-nationals, at least their executives are wary that the demonstrations may become more violent. There is a growing concern among executives that the demonstrators may choose to up the ante and a few of the more volatile may try to physically attack the dreaded one percent. Nothing is ruled out, anything from expanded vandalism and hacking, to actual assaults on the executives themselves. Most recall all too vividly the case of fund manager, Edward Lampert, who was hoisted out of his Ford Expedition and held hostage for several days in a motel. Oh, the ignominy. For a C Level executive to be forced to stay in a motel. Nevertheless, while Lampert was ultimately returned safely and his kidnappers convicted, the next time around, many fear, and with another victim the situation could get way out of hand.
But one group is not so burdened by the Occupy Movement. One group in fact welcomes it and the effect it is having in cities and in corporations around the country. That is the private security industry. In a tough economy, according to an article in the New York Times, business is booming. There are threat assessment detachments, private body guards, enhanced security forces, and the security technology and systems that these companies sell and others will buy. It’s a virtual bonanza.
Executives and their corporations are employing everything from bullet proof a lot of things to palm print coded door locks. They are building safe rooms and steel fortified walls with some designed like bank vaults to dispel drilling or torching efforts. Agencies are running background checks on the executivs’ personal staff and anyone working for his family.
According to the one article in the New York Times…”But the most recent round of Main Street rage has raised the risk factor. Last week, when protesters picketed the homes of some of Manhattan’s richest residents…Scenes like these are causing executives to supplement their internal security teams with the services of outside specialty firms. A chief financial officer of a major bank recently called Risk Control Strategies with the news that he had received a menacing e-mail from an anonymous sender.”
None of this comes cheap. With private security, at least good private security, you had better be in the one percent if you are expecting to afford it. Here is another quote from the article…”All these provisions come at a startling cost. Just one highly trained bodyguard — “personal protection professional,” in the industry parlance — can run $200 an hour, and a full-time driver can cost an executive $150,000 per year. A thorough sweep for surveillance can cost $1.25 per square foot of space and a full-home surveillance system can run anywhere from $100,000 to $1.5 million.”
As a company that conducts extended year background checks for a variety of private intelligence and investigative groups, thorough security requires a great deal of expertise. We are familiar with a variety of the monitoring systems in lace and the various methods applied to threat assessment both to the corporation and the individual. There are any number of bug sweepers and video devices.
Needless to say, private security groups are ramping up their employment. Some of the security groups know who they are recruiting and staff through word of mouth and special channels. But some turn over some of their staffing requirements to recruiters who may be recruiting out of colleges and universities that specialize in curricula in the criminal sciences and Homeland Security.
A fair number of colleges and universities offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Homeland Security related course, including counter terrorism. As the private security industry expands, many schools accommodate these new demands and provide graduates with the requisite skill sets. I know a number of people, some younger but some older who went back to school for this particular education.
Despite the vagaries and the probable temporary nature of the Occupy Movement, at least as it exists on the streets, there are other concerns that have caused increases in private security. Wall Street Executives wary of being targets for investigation have increased private security. Given the startling increase in industrial espionage and corporate theft including precious databases and proprietary information, in these adverse times, for the private security industry, business is swell.