In today’s business environment, civil disturbances or civil unrest are a fact of life. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), civil disturbance is “a civil unrest activity such as a demonstration, riot, or strike that disrupts a community and requires intervention to maintain public safety.” Civil disturbances, or unrest, can cause a variety of subsequent issues such as violence and assault, disorderly conduct, or vandalism. Civil disturbances are potential risks for most businesses but even more of a risk for high value businesses because they are usually the first to be targeted by looters.
Ask yourself the following questions:
• What would you do if your store was closed for several days because it was damaged or even totally destroyed?
• What if your loan, payroll, tax, accounting, or operating records were destroyed?
• Is your insurance adequate to get you back in operation? Do you understand what is covered and what is not?
• How long can you survive if your business is shut down?
The purpose of any emergency plan is to organize actions during a crisis. A well-developed workplace emergency plan and proper employee training may result in fewer employee and customer injuries and less structural damage to the business. Your plan should be constructed with every employee and customer’s safety in mind as your first objective, and how to reduce losses to your business as your secondary objective. It is the responsibility of the owner and the management team to evaluate an emergency situation, ensure appropriate action is taken, determine whether outside support is needed, and summon that support. Demonstrations and protests are often unpredictable and can turn violent without warning.
Locations that may introduce an increased level of exposure to civil disturbance:
• Urban or downtown
• Proximity to sporting complexes
• Proximity to venues/parade routes
• Proximity to a business that may be a target of a protest gathering
• Proximity to government buildings, foreign embassies and consulates
If a civil disturbance occurs management should maintain an open line of communication to local law enforcement.
An employee of the store should be stationed at the front customer door in order to observe the situation outside and report any changes to the manager. If the situation is deemed threatening to employees and customers, the front door should be locked. If possible, roll down gates and/or close blinds to reduce the danger of looters and possible flying glass. Cash, jewelry and other high dollar items should be secured in a TL-rated safe. Law enforcement should be contacted and a request made to escort customers and employees to their vehicles.
Tony Gallo is a licensed security consultant and Managing Partner for Sapphire Risk Advisory Group, named one of the Top 100 ancillary companies in the cannabis industry. Tony has more than 30 years of retail experience in the Loss Prevention, Audit, Safety, and Risk/Emergency Management fields. He is considered one of the leading authorities in cannabis security, armed robberies and burglary investigations. Tony is a published author on cannabis security designs and over the last seven years has spoken at numerous cannabis business conferences across the country.