10-4-2013 6-50-46 PMIt’s sad to say, but Halloween is no longer the fun kid time of my youth. I remember dressing up as a ghost; you know, you would take an old bed sheet, throw it over your head and hope no one poked your eyes out as the holes were cut, so you could see where you were going. Or if you were lucky, you went to the Big K and bought a costume; mine was C3PO. If you lived in the city, your parents would let you walk around the neighborhood with your friends, maybe a parent walked with you, but more often, the group just walked together and no one bothered them. Afterwards your parents would take you to family and friends houses to trick or treat. You would get all kinds of goodies in your brown paper bag; remember the one you spent time drawing the jack-o-lantern or bats on during art class at school. My favorite goody was the popcorn balls and caramel covered apples made by hand. You would go home and pour out your haul on the kitchen table and start to devour it. Now those were the good old days.

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10-4-2013 6-50-55 PMThose days are long gone. Now you have to worry about every little thing, because if you don’t Halloween could be a disaster that will haunt you the rest of your life. Hopefully, these suggestions will limit the problems you may encounter as you take your children out for a night of trick or treating.

When you are purchasing your child’s costume, remember to pick up some reflective tape to put on the costume or get a reflective bag for the candy; this will make your children easily seen. Plan your route and only go to areas that you are familiar with. If possible let your family and friends know when you are coming by. If you want to go walking in your neighborhood, take a flashlight and walk in well-lit areas. Never go to a house in which you are not acquainted with the residents. Unlike in the good old days, you can’t let your children go out by themselves. There are older kids that may want to play pranks on them, or worse yet, there could be adults that would do harm to your child. Even though you know the people you are going to visit, be careful of unwrapped goodies.

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If you are new to the area, you might need an alternative solution to the trick or treating activity. Let me make a suggestion; some churches and civic groups in the area will have a night of activities for the kids. This would be a good way to meet other parents with children of similar ages and will most likely be in a safe environment for the children.

Regardless of which method you wish to use, please do not advertise that you are not at home on the social media and leave some lights on.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween.
By: Brian Black – Operations Manager of Madison Security Group

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9-20-2013 8-10-44 PMAs I have written before regarding the importance of Security Officers, I thought that this article would shed light on how stressful the job can be, and how unfortunate situations can arise.

As a member of Private Officers International, what we try to do is promote awareness regarding the importance of Security Guards, and the need for more advanced training.
Five security officers have committed suicide during the past three weeks.

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While shocking, it is not uncommon among law enforcement, the military, emergency workers or those who work in high stressed and dangerous jobs, or in positions where life and death is the norm.

In fact, more law enforcement officers die at their own hand than are killed in the line of duty, according to the Badge of Life Mental Health Foundation. While many may not think of private security officers as emergency responders or working in high risk environments, the fact is, today’s private protectors are involved in hundreds of armed confrontations, thousands of assaults where they become the victim, and respond to every type of incident, emergency or chaotic situation that you can imagine. Often they are thrust into do or die moments where they must make split second decisions that they are often not trained or prepared for.

9-20-2013 8-11-00 PMSecurity officers today have become the new first responders here in America and around the world, and with this comes pressures and stresses that this industry and its workers have never before experienced. Coupled with the daily stressors of life, poor wages, long hours and work shifts that often include overnight, week-end and holidays, security officers now find themselves with their back against the wall with no one to talk to and nowhere to turn. Such was the case of one security officer who took his own life three weeks ago while on duty. Facing divorce, the loss of his home and financial hardships, he reported for work and within seventeen minutes was dead of a gunshot to the head. And just thirty miles north, in the capitol city of our country, another onduty security officer ended his life the same way on top of a federal building he was hired to protect. Facing relationship issues and possible criminal charges, the man chose his duty weapon for his source of resolution. And during the next few weeks that followed, security officers in Florida, Michigan and another one in Washington DC also ended their lives.

Law enforcement officers often turn to alcohol and illegal substances, sex or gambling to forget what they’ve seen and the pain that they feel, at least for a little while, and many become addicted, depressed and feel alone. The divorce rate among police officers and emergency responders is high as are the feelings that nobody cares and no
one understands. They do what they do, putting life and limb on the line every day for the public and yet, they suffer alone.

As a law enforcement veteran, emergency responder and certified emergency service Chaplain, I have personally been on both sides of the road. I have felt what they felt, and been where they have been. I have talked to many officers, and know the issues that they face and the feeling that no one cares, no one is listening and no one understands. More than 100 security officers die on duty each year, many suffer horrific deaths and yet, generally, there is no recognition, no outcry and an overall feeling that no one cares.

As security officers continue to be used to patrol large communities and public spaces, responding to medical emergencies and crimes in progress, and as they continue to engage armed and wanted criminals while becoming the new front line of Homeland Security, and the whole observe and report model of the security industry continues shifting
to a more proactive rather than reactive method of doing business, remember the person performing those duties.

Recognize signs of stress, show empathy and true concerns for the employee and give your workers an avenue to talk to someone beyond your office. Whether that someone be a workplace chaplain, a counselor, an emergency helpline or an employee assistance program, it makes no difference as long as it’s conveyed that they are not alone. An employee
who feels valued and who is recognized for their efforts, loyalty or for going above and beyond, not only becomes a loyal and dedicated employee, they become one who feels like they are not alone when a crises comes their way. After all, without employees, there is no business.

Suicides can be prevented if we’re willing to look beyond the facade of the person, see their inner being, and are receptive to changes in the person’s daily routines, attitude, moods or changes. Security officers and emergency responders have more in common than you might realize, and it’s important to understand and to work with the many different problems and life issues that our employees encounter. We can avert the use of drastic measures on the part of someone who feels alone, depressed, unappreciated and trapped.
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group

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9-6-2013 6-28-36 PMPeople often laugh at or disregard the Security Officer working their beat. They are often thought of as the “Barney Fife” in life. This perception is far from reality. These men and women are dedicated to providing a service to business owners and their patrons. In doing so, some have paid the ultimate price.

Every 63.2 hours a Security Officer is killed in the line of duty. 128 were killed in 2012 and to date, 57 have been killed in 2013.

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Here are some of the real life situations that Security Officers can find themselves.

Sitting in her company patrol vehicle in the parking lot of a Jacksonville McDonald’s, on-duty security officer Brenda Williamson stops long enough to grab breakfast before heading back out on patrol. But before she can finish her meal, Williamson is attacked and shot during a possible robbery and dies before help arrives.

A Salinas California security officer working alone and unarmed confronts a suspicious man in a dollar store. The man, who had been roaming in and out of the store for several hours, pulls a knife and the security officer is stabbed multiple times in front of customers and employees. He bleeds out in the middle of the store despite efforts from a number of people who tried to save him.

Gunshots again ring out; this time in Ohio, less than forty eight hours after the California security officer has been killed. In the parking lot of a south Toledo nightclub, a man is shooting at patrons and security officers. The man is killed in the ensuing gun battle by club security .That evening in San Francisco and Las Vegas, two other security officers are shot at night clubs.

Less than a week into the new month, three security officers are dead, five others have been stabbed or shot, and there have been more than two dozen confrontations with armed persons including four close calls in West Virginia, Nevada, Illinois and Tennessee, where Security Officers were shot at and in some cases, returned gunfire.

9-6-2013 6-28-45 PMOne such confrontation occurred as security officers patrolling the Blackhawk Housing Development in Rockford, Illinois came under heavy gunfire and had to shoot it out with several persons. The private officers were not injured but say that they face the threat of death every day that they report for work. The weekend continues on with a security officer being stabbed in Waldorf, Maryland, armored car guards attacked during a robbery in Charlotte, N.C. and another security officer shot in Detroit.

These are just some of the incidents that happened over the first 10 days of the month of August. As you can see there are no particular types of businesses that are the issues, but in all cases the Security Officers were doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. Being a Security Officer is, most times, a thankless job; but the next time you see one, thank him. You never know when you may need him.
By: Brian Black of Madison Security Group

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8-15-2013 9-09-36 PMWhen you think of a security officer, you probably picture a guard at a warehouse or walking through a mall, or maybe one standing post at the gate of your employer. While those still are some of the basic duties of a private security force, there are many other duties and responsibilities often overlooked by the general public. As the industry continues to grow, private security can now be found doing much more than guarding a cold factory at three in the morning.

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The use of private security forces to provide traditional physical security for construction sites, apartment complexes, office buildings, and other assets that need guarding continues to drive the growth of the private security industry, but so does a new breed of non-traditional services being requested by businesses who once provided the service internally, or not at all.

A recent security business seminar led by Rick McCann, founder and CEO of Private Officer International, gave security company owners insight into 15 new areas of security industry growth, and included the tools and marketing methods to approach the expanding market and to capture those non-traditional contracts.

8-15-2013 9-10-04 PM“We’ve pushed the limits of the normal uniform security services,” McCann said, and “now it’s time to fill the gaps of security related but non-traditional services that many businesses are seeking.” Some of the new growth services that McCann spoke of in the seminar included providing onsite drug and alcohol testing, accident re-creation, and reporting for industrial accidents, slips and falls, and traffic collisions occurring on private property. Other services that are also being requested include traffic and parking enforcement, lifeguards, and other public safety oriented services not normally provided by contract security firms.

McCann points to Auburn University as a great example of unusual extended services that clients are seeking. Auburn officials hired a Montgomery, Alabama based security agency to enforce curfews for their football team members during the season, and to escort them back to their dorms when found in violation of those curfews.

“Another great example is a contract that a company in Louisiana has to provide drug dogs to sweep ship containers and vessels and provide DOT drug testing for ship personnel, and then to provide security protection services for the vessel and cargo while in port,” McCann added. An all around service provider is what today’s client is seeking.

There are also twenty six states that authorize security officers with special police authority, and in those states, security officers often issue tickets, make arrests and serve summones. A number of small towns have also contracted security agencies to patrol their town, respond to non-emergency calls for service, and provide emergency medical services.

Many companies now are looking to outsource a number of their services, and to do it under an “umbrella” contract with one provider.
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group

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8-2-2013 4-42-21 PMIt’s football time! Whether you go to your local High School game, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Nashville or Atlanta; there are some things you need to do, to make sure you have an enjoyable time and not have the unexpected loss of property or injury while at the game. Much like a coach prepares his team for all situations on the football field, you need to be prepared for all situations when attending the game.

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One of the first things you need to be aware of is traffic flow in and out of the stadium area. Make sure you know what roads are inbound and outbound to the stadium; remember on game day streets that are normally two-way may become one-way streets. When you arrive and are looking for a place to park make sure you park in a well-lit area. This will help you find your vehicle after the game but it also will provide a safer environment to park since, most well-lit areas will have some kind of security presence; either cameras or roving patrols. We all want to park as close to the stadium as possible, and most of the time, stadiums have businesses and homes close by. You may be tempted to park in these private property areas, but be careful if you do. Most businesses do not allow game day parking and may have your vehicle towed at your expense. If you decide to park at someone’s house, there is no guarantee that the home owner will protect your property, and it is doubtful that their homeowner’s insurance will cover any damages. Make sure that you place your valuables in the trunk of your car or cover any items that you may leave in your vehicle, this way when people look into your vehicle, it will be harder for them to know what you are leaving behind.

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When you are walking to the stadium, ladies, if you carry a purse, place the strap over your neck and carry the purse between your elbow and body. Men, place your wallet in the front pocket of your pants and if possible, take very little cash with you. Keep your children within arm’s reach at all times; never let them wander unattended. Walk to the stadium using well-travelled paths and don’t go through areas that are not lit. Be aware of those around, you never know who is watching you and waiting for you to make a mistake.

8-2-2013 4-42-33 PMWhen you arrive at the stadium, keep your family close together. Use cash to make your purchases and be careful not to show your cash; remember not everyone at the game is there to watch the game. When you find your seat, you should still be aware of those around you, but at this point, you can sit back and enjoy the game knowing you have done all you can do to protect your family and property. After the game, you need to be on alert again; wait in the stands to let the crowds move out so there is less risk of getting injured in the mass of people trying to leave. Take the same precautions leaving the stadium as when you arrived, and you should have an enjoyable time without any issues.
By: Brian Black of Madison Security Group

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What Are We As Parents Teaching Our Children About Sports And Being A Good Sport?

7-6-2013 8-39-18 AMI believe that people that play professional sports should be held to a higher standard of behavior.

The reason is, we pay to see them play their sport, and we bring our children to these events so that they can aspire to play like their hero. Then we see the real truth, i.e., that it’s all about the draw and how much money these professionals can bring in. How many of these heroes have broken the law and been forgiven because of the money they make for a franchise? What kind of a message does that send to the children that look up to them? So if you are a great athlete, you can forget about what is morally and legally the right thing to do because you know you will get away with it? It is too bad that sports have become a money machine, and the players have forgotten the fans that got them there, especially the young ones.

I like watching Triple A Ball because those kids play their hearts out for the love of the game, not for the money. Next time you are at a peewee football game, look at the faces of those kids, especially when they make a touchdown or a great tackle. That’s what the sport is supposed to be all about.

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What is this new situation where if your team loses a game, everybody gets a trophy? What does that teach a child? To me it teaches children there are no consequences or disappointments. It reinforces the idea that no matter what, you will be rewarded anyway. I believe it takes out the competitive drive to try harder next time. I was involved with both sports and Drum Corps when I was young, and believe me, my team did not win every time. We got together as a team, and practiced harder so that we could win that elusive first place. It built character, and is something that our professional teams need to address. It seems to me that camaraderie is dead, and that the players themselves are being played by their own managers/lawyers. I love that a player would leave his team to join up with a stronger team, so that they can win a RING. What happened to “Let’s try next year as a real team that cares for each other?”

Now let us go into the stands at these games, whether football, baseball, soccer, etc. Again, what are we teaching the children? I have seen parents acting out like inmates at a prison with explicit language, gestures toward the officials, at other parents, and even sometimes escalating into violence over a game. Why?

7-6-2013 8-39-39 AMJust recently we all read about a young man who was upset with a call during a high school soccer game, and he punched the official. The ref later died from his injury. How awful! How does a family survive that kind of violence? In another case, a patron had been attacked just because he was rooting for the other team in front of his child. What about soccer crowds in other countries, where people are actually trampled and crushed at a soccer event? I won’t go to any of them in a hurry!

When I lived in Boston, I would go to see the Patriots play but to my disappointment, being pushed and shoved was not uncommon. Then when the beer hits people, it becomes a little more exciting trying to stay out of harm’s way. Do not misunderstand me, not all spectators are like the few that can ruin it for others.

There is a sport that has, I believe, kept its followers calm and courteous. It’s golf, a gentlemen’s sport. I believe that golf teaches both sportsmanship and integrity. You don’t see the crowds getting all worked up and threatening the officials, because it will not be accepted. The only real threat watching a golf game would be being hit by that little white ball that went awry. No people have been trampled at a golf outing that I have heard of. I don’t see lawyers and managers swaying a golfer telling them who to play against, or which tournament to play in.

Parents, be careful at sporting events with your children. Set a good example for them, teach them the true meaning of sportsmanship and camaraderie, and that it’s not bad to lose; just don’t give up.
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group

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6-21-2013 4-13-32 PMOver the past couple of months we have discussed several different layers of security for your home. We have looked at the need for a monitored electronic security system, fencing, lighting, security rated doors and other deterrents to keep your family and property safe from criminals. In this article I would like to explore the controversial issues of firearms and guard dogs. These suggestions may not fit your lifestyle, but they are valid in the discussion of protecting your home.

6-21-2013 4-14-56 PMMost everyone that has a pet dog thinks that the dog will keep burglars from entering your home. This is not true. Most dogs bark to warn of activity or sounds that are not familiar to them. This only serves to let the potential intruder know that a dog is present and they will need to remove the obstacle. Most people think of their dogs as part of the family, and no one would want anything to happen to their pet. But, well trained dogs are an option to help protect your home and they can also be a pet. If you decide to get a dog for home security, you need to get a breed that suits your lifestyle and can be trained to protect your home and family. This will not be an inexpensive measure. You will need to continually work with the dog to keep its training at a high level. But, once trained, your dog will not only be your family’s best friend, it will be your family’s best defender.
6-21-2013 4-13-47 PMNow let’s look at the hot topic of our time; guns. I will not discuss the 2nd Amendment other than this; the argument over the legality of firearms ownership was settled in 1791, with the passing of the Bill of Rights. If you have decided that you want a firearm in your home, you need to make sure that your family knows the proper way to use these weapons. My firm belief is that every member of the family should be able to safely use a firearm, and know where they are kept. My beliefs may not follow the mainstream, but I believe that if the mystery of the gun is taken away and the seriousness of the use of the gun is taught, there would be less accidental shootings. Enroll your family in a gun safety course; even your young children need to know how to safely use a gun. In this time of latch key kids, unfortunately, they may have to defend themselves while the parents are not at home.

I have seen the videos and read the articles about keeping your gun locked up and unloaded. I disagree with these ideas. I will always ask, what happens if you are at home watching TV; your gun is in your bedroom locked up and someone bursts through the door. What do you do? A firearm will not do you any good if you cannot get to it quickly.

These are suggestions for you to consider. Ultimately, protection of your family and home depends on you and what you feel comfortable adding to your home.
By: Brian Black of Madison Security Group

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6-7-2013 2-12-13 PMI believe that people that play professional sports should be held to a higher level of accountability because of their impact on society, especially kids. The reason is, we pay to see them at their sport, and the reason we bring our children to these events is so that they can aspire to play like their hero. Then we see the real truth. It’s all about the draw and how much money these pros can bring in. How many of these heroes have broken the law and been forgiven because they bring in money? What a poor message that sends to the children that look up to them. So I guess we are supposed to believe that if you are a great athlete you can do wrong, and you will get away with it? It is too bad that sports have become a money machine and have forgotten the fans, especially the young ones. I like watching Triple A Ball because those kids play their hearts out for the love of the game, not for the money. Next time you are at a peewee football game, look at the faces of those kids, especially when they make a touchdown or a great tackle. That’s what sports are supposed to be.

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6-7-2013 1-38-54 PM(BPT) – Imagine being woken by a phone call in the middle of the night. It’s your crying grandchild, who is asking for money because of an accident. Of course you want to help your loved one, so you do whatever you can in this emergency situation. You open your wallet without hesitation.

Unfortunately you’ve just become a victim of a scam that is happening across the country. Known as the “grandparent scam,” this type of fraud involves bogus calls from people claiming to be relatives in trouble. The personal nature and urgency of these calls causes people to let their guard down, and act quickly without verifying the validity of the call.

6-7-2013 1-38-32 PM“Criminals often target older people, but in reality anyone of any age can be a target of a scam,” says Phil Hopkins, vice president of global security with Western Union. “With more people sharing personal information online, such as through social media websites, it’s easier for criminals to learn details of personal relationships so they can imitate loved ones by name. Newspapers and obituaries are also good sources of personal information, providing detailed relationship information.”

Con artists may also impersonate attorneys, police officers or bail bondsmen to create a sense of urgency and legitimacy. Add in loud background noises,
muffled voices or fuzzy phone lines, and it’s easy to believe someone is calling from jail or a remote location, where he or she may be in trouble.

In addition to calling victims, hackers use similar strategies to target victims through email. Tapping into a person’s address book, scammers send emails or instant messages directly from the person’s email account alerting friends and others of the “emergency” and requesting funds. Do not respond to the email and confirm the situation by contacting the person by phone or other means.-

“Awareness is the best defense against emergency scams,” says Hopkins. “These scams can be convincing, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind before you rush to help.” Hopkins recommends you follow these tips to avoid becoming a victim of the emergency scam or other types of fraud:

1. If you receive a phone call or email claiming a friend or family member needs cash, take a moment to review the situation. Does it make sense? Can you verify the emergency?

2. Call the person at a known telephone number, not a number given to you by the caller. Or, call a mutual friend or another relative and find out if he or she is aware of the situation.

3. Let your friend or family member know that you have received a call or email from the person requesting help. If the request turns out to be fake, contact the police immediately.

4. Regardless of whether you are contacted by phone, email or some other means, be suspicious of requests to send money to “help a friend or family member out” unless you can verify the information you’ve been given with 100 percent confidence.

5. If you did send a money transfer through Western Union, and then realize that it was for a scam, contact the Western Union Fraud Hotline at 1-800- 448-1492. If the transaction has not been picked up, it will be refunded to you.

6. Never send money to someone you have not met in person.

7. For more information on scams or for more tips on how to help protect yourself from scams, visit www.WesternUnion.com/stopfraud.

Courtesy Brandpoint Content

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Protecting Your Home – Part 3
Since the weather is now getting warmer, let’s talk about how to better secure your house from the outside. When talking about protecting your home, you must think of it in layers. No one element is enough for securing your home from intruders.

5-17-2013 5-54-17 PMLet’s start with window security. I have mentioned in the past that a good deterrent is to have thorny bushes in front of windows. This is the time to plant those bushes. A personal favorite is the holly bush, but another is the rose bush. These bushes are easy to plant and can grow fairly quickly. Just remember that with any plant it will take time to take root and thrive, but once they do, they will give you years of beauty and protection. Depending on the type of plants you get, you will need to give them room to grow but you do not want to leave a big gap between the window and bush. A gap of 12-18 inches should be enough; the main thing is to keep the gap small enough so the bush cannot be used to hide behind by an intruder.

Another security device you can add is a privacy fence, and the ideal fence would be flush to the ground and six feet high. You could also use a chain link fence, but these are typically only four feet tall and can easily be jumped. If you want to go for the ultimate in fencing, you could use decorative rail or bar fencing. For the best security, the privacy fence option is the most economical. But whichever option you choose, make sure that you keep objects away from the fence that can be used to jump over the fence.

5-17-2013 5-54-37 PM3Outside lighting is a must. This is a good time to replace the bulbs with brighter bulbs, and be sure to follow manufacturer’s guidelines for maximum wattage. When determining how much lighting you should use or where to place lighting, you must think like an intruder. This is hard because we normally don’t think in those ways, but this is your best defense. Look for the areas in which someone might try and hide. These are the areas that need to be lit. There are many different types of lighting that can be used; halogen, florescent and even incandescent lights are all good options, and it’s all a matter of preference. One of the most popular types of lighting, and one that has great curb appeal, is a post light. These are normally found at the beginning of sidewalks or close to the front door, and they work very well at lighting the area.

The last thing I would suggest is getting a storm door that has a 5 star security rating. Some of these doors have multiple locking points and the glass is nearly break proof. But like I have said in the past, once you feel secure, that’s when you’re most vulnerable. Security for your home is an ongoing process, and you must re-evaluate your defenses continually.

I hope these suggestions are helpful; have fun working in the yard this summer, and be safe.
By: Brian Black of Madison Security Group

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