State of The Union

Mark L. Gaudette, CPP,CFI,LPC 
Independent Security Consultant
March 11, 2024

​​With the State of The Union recently being delivered to Congress it comes to mind that, for those of us in the security sector, it might be time to undertake a thorough evaluation of our own “state of the union”. The challenges that we face today are markedly different from those in the past.  We must be agile in providing protective measures to safeguard our assets.  Advancements in technology, particularly in AI, offer both challenges and solutions.  AI’s double edge sword can be used by bad players to design more complex attacks or by us good guys to enhance threat detection and implement a swift response. The application of AI in our security structure provides an opportunity to stay a step ahead through predictive analytics, automated security protocols, and more sophisticated and robust monitoring systems that can identify and mitigate threats before they arrive at your doorstep. As you assess the current security posture of your organization or client, it’s critical to plan with an eye toward the future. You need to understand not only the potential of emerging technologies, but also the integration of strategic initiatives that will ensure your security resilience. Seeking subject matter expertise, particularly in designing comprehensive security programs, is a necessity investment in the continued safety and security of your assets. Consultants bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, offering insights that can refine your security strategy to be more resilient and adaptable. This can ensure that your organization is not just protected against current threats but also is prepared for future challenges. What’s the “State of your Union”? 

From Illegal Immigrants Attacking Police to Retail Security: Embracing Technology to Protect Our Most Important Assets - People

Mark L. Gaudette, CPP,CFI,LPC 
Independent Security Consultant
February 6, 2024

In recent years we have witnessed a troubling trend where acts of violence have become increasingly common in our society.  The incidents of violence against NYPD officers by illegal immigrants highlights the urgency of addressing this issue.  While it is crucial to recognize that these incidents do not represent the actions of an entire community, they serve as a stark reminder of the complex challenges law enforcement agencies face in maintaining peace and order.

  One disturbing trend that compounds these challenges is the shifting societal acceptance of violence. In recent years, there has been a desensitization to violence in the media and a growing tolerance for aggression in everyday life.  Think of some of the behavior we witnessed throughout Covid.  This acceptance of violence not only puts law enforcement at risk but also poses threats to the safety and well-being of individuals in various settings, including retail environments.  The steep increase of ORC activity demonstrates that retail stores are vulnerable to various forms of violence, from theft and vandalism to physical altercations.  Associates and customers often find themselves caught in the crossfire, resulting in injuries and sometimes psychological trauma.

 To address this issue and ensure the safety of all parties involved, retailers must prioritize improving their security measures.  One solution to enhance retail security while distancing customers and employees from direct intervention is the adoption of advanced technologies.  Some suggestions for mitigation strategies may be installation of high-definition AI cameras equipped with facial identification technology that can deter potential criminals and provide crucial evidence in case of an incident.  This not only helps in preventing theft but also ensures that employees and customers feel safer within the store.  Virtual customer service representatives and automated checkout systems can minimize the need for direct interactions between associates and customers.  This not only reduces the risk of altercations but also enhances the efficiency of the shopping experience.  Equipping associates with panic buttons or mobile apps that allow them to quickly summon help in emergencies ensures a rapid response from security personnel or law enforcement, increasing overall safety.  Utilizing data analytics can help identify patterns of suspicious behavior and potential threats, enabling retailers to take proactive measures to prevent incidents.

 In a world where violence is becoming more prevalent and accepted, it is crucial to prioritize the safety and well-being of associates and customers in retail environments.  This is where security consultants can assist your business in identifying technology and utilizing advanced security measures, that can distance employees and customers from direct intervention and engagement, ultimately creating safer spaces for all.  While we address societal issues and strive for a more peaceful society, it is imperative that we take concrete steps to protect those that are in vulnerable situations today and create a safer shopping experience for everyone.

Once Around The Sun

Mark L. Gaudette, CPP,CFI,LPC 
Independent Security Consultant
November 28, 2023

All of us who live in the security world often find ourselves in a perpetual loop of challenges and the next project that is on the horizon.  This relentless pace is probably what attracted us to this profession and is often what drives us.  There is great satisfaction in successfully closing an investigation, helping to mitigate the possibility of loss, or creating a safer and more secure environment.  As we approach the holiday season and the year winds down, I’d like to pause and appreciate the people that have made this successful and gratifying.  First and foremost, our families deserve recognition., they are the unsung heroes, supporting our passions even when it doesn’t align with the direction they would prefer.  The people and organizations that we encounter along the way have a great impact on our successes, both intentionally and unintentionally.  If you believe your expertise is solely self-earned, look in the mirror and reevaluate.  This is not a solitary journey, but rather a path that has been blazed by the wisdom of many before us.  As we begin another revolution around the Sun, we need to make sure that when looking forward that we also look back, take a pause, and appreciate what has come before us as we continue this journey.  Who have been the mainstays of support in your career?  How have your personal relationships in this industry shaped your approach to challenges?  And most importantly, how can we pay forward the support and wisdom that we received to the individuals now on the same path navigating the challenges of our industry.  Share your knowledge and expertise, it’s not exclusively yours to keep.

As we continue our journey around the sun once more, I look forward to reconnecting, sharing and growing together in the year ahead!

The Rise of Organized Retail Crime (ORC) in the Post-COVID Era

Mark L. Gaudette, CPP,CFI,LPC 
Independent Security Consultant
October 20, 2023

The retail landscape has seen an undeniable transformation in the aftermath of the COVID-19.  While businesses have grappled with supply chain interruptions, reduced in-store foot traffic, e-commerce shifts, and staffing issues, another challenge lurks beneath the surface: Organized Retail Crime (ORC).  With its increasing prevalence, retailers are left to navigate not only reduced profits but concerns for staff and customer safety.
ORC is not a sporadic theft or shoplifting incident.  It involves organized groups or individuals systematically stealing merchandise from retail stores and then illegally selling these stolen goods.  According to a National Retail Federation report, ORC's financial toll has been significant, with losses amounting to billions annually.  This, combined with the economic challenges post-pandemic, is a substantial burden for retailers.
The pandemic led to increased unemployment and economic instability.  These pressures have driven a rise in ORC as individuals seek alternative income sources.  The rapid transition to e-commerce has also made fencing stolen goods online more accessible than ever before.

Beyond financial implications, the menacing nature of these thefts often poses immediate threats to staff and customers alike.  We have all seen the videos on the news of gangs of looters ransacking retail establishments openly and without apparent retribution.  ORC groups can be aggressive, and confrontations can escalate quickly.  The fear of such incidents can demoralize employees and deter shoppers.

Modern problems demand modern solutions.  It is more important than ever that technology replace employee intervention in these situations.  Here's how technology is playing a pivotal role:

  • Advanced surveillance systems backed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) can detect suspicious activity in real-time, alerting staff before situations escalate.
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags can track inventory more accurately than traditional barcodes, making it difficult for ORC groups to move large quantities of merchandise undetected.
  • Retailers can use data analytics to identify patterns of theft and advance inventory management, pinpointing high-risk items or areas within the store.
  • Integrating advanced fraud detection systems into Self Check Out (SCO) and Scan & Go platforms can help identify fraudulent transactions in real time.

While technology is a potent tool, its effective implementation is crucial.  This is where consultants can help.  As an outsider, they bring a fresh set of eyes, identifying potential security threats and vulnerabilities, recommend tailor fit technology solutions, collaborate with your team to provide customized training enabling them to stay aware and proactive.

Organized Retail Crime is a daunting challenge in the post-COVID retail landscape, a combination of advanced technology and expert consultancy can help businesses protect their assets, ensuring safety and sustained profits.  It is imperative for retailers to be proactive, staying abreast of the evolving threat landscape and embracing modern solutions.

All Hands on Deck - The Role of a Security Consultant for Your Business

Mark L. Gaudette, CPP,CFI,LPC 
Independent Security Consultant

July 26, 2023

For small business owners, every decision made can significantly impact the success and growth of your organization. With the many hats to wear when running a small business, security concerns often take a backseat. However, overlooking security risks can expose small businesses to potentially devastating consequences. This is where a security consultant comes into play, offering tailored solutions to strengthen your security profile and safeguard your success. 

Small businesses often lack the resources to implement robust security measures seen in larger corporations. A security consultant recognizes the unique challenges faced by small businesses and tailors security strategies to suit their specific needs and budgets. Hiring a security consultant can be a cost-effective solution. Instead of maintaining a full-time, in-house security team, you can engage a consultant on a project or contract basis. This flexibility allows you to access expert advice and assistance when needed, without the overhead costs of permanent staff.

Small business owners may not have the expertise to identify potential security threats and weak points in their operations. A security consultant conducts a thorough risk assessment, analyzing every aspect of the business and provides a fresh set of eyes to evaluate your existing security measures. This evaluation helps prioritize security improvements and mitigates vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
For small businesses, building and maintaining customer trust is crucial for long-term success. Demonstrating a commitment to security shows customers that their interests are a top priority. A security consultant's involvement can serve as a powerful marketing point, attracting new customers who seek reliable and secure services.

Running a small business demands dedication and focus, leaving little room for worrying about potential security threats. Hiring a security consultant provides peace of mind, knowing that experts are proactively safeguarding your business. This confidence allows small business owners to concentrate on growth and innovation without security concerns weighing them down.
As a small business owner, you cannot afford to underestimate the value of hiring a security consultant. Their expertise in personalized security solutions, risk assessments, and compliance ensures that small businesses are well-protected against evolving threats. By investing in security, small business owners demonstrate the importance of safeguarding their customers and associates and protecting your organizations financial wellbeing.