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Vaughn Baker, Strategos International

Abstractions won’t work. You need a specific list of goals.

By Vaughn Baker • President, Strategos International

I’m not a fanatic when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. But I am zealous about security. And there’s no better time than now to improve it.

It just happens to be the beginning of a new year. There’s no better time for a fresh start.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re responsible for security at a factory, distribution center, school or church. There’s room for improvement.

Sometimes I hear people responsible for security preparedness say, “I think we have arrived and there is no need to improve or review what we are doing.” This viewpoint fails to understand that security preparedness is a journey, not a destination. Workplace environments, criminal trends and technology threats are constantly evolving. As security leaders, we must also be willing to change and continually advance.

Wishing and hoping won’t change anything. We need to act.

How to get started
Don’t wait for things to slow down or for your schedule to open up. Workplace violence doesn’t check your calendar. Whether you’re working alone or with a team (a team is almost always better), begin by making a “wish list” of vulnerabilities you need to shore up. Don’t worry about the budget for now. Just get it on the list. You’ll have time to prioritize later.

What are some potential items for your list? Every situation is different, so I can’t tell you specifically what you need. But, in general, here are some places to start:

  • Employee training. Your best security tactic is a trained employee.
  • Visual entry systems. This is a “camera” doorbell allowing you to view and communicate with a person seeking entry.
  • Name badges indicating whether people are authorized to be in a facility.
  • Simple locks that reinforce and secure doors, blocking an attacker.
  • A facility audit from a professional security company.
  • A workplace violence policy and prevention program.
  • Lighting up your parking lot or parking garage. Parking areas are the scenes of numerous crimes against people and property.
  • If you’re with a church or volunteer-based organization, you may need to invest in training more volunteers and expanding the size of your team.

Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good. For simplicity’s sake, pare your list down to three items. If you get those done, keep going.

Planning is hard work. No doubt about it. You’ll encounter obstacles and conflict. Research will be required. As Sir John Harvey-Jones said:

“Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. And the nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise; rather than being proceeded by a period of worry and depression.”

Don’t plan to fail by failing to plan.

Unlike most to-do lists, every item checked off on your security agenda has the potential to save lives.

Important things don’t happen by accident. Be the champion for security in your organization in 2020.

As always, if I can be of service, please contact me.


Vaughn Baker, Strategos International

Vaughn Baker is president of Strategos International, a Kansas City, Mo.,-based firm that provides security training, consulting and executive protection services. Baker has 20 years of experience in law enforcement including patrol, investigation, SWAT and special operations. He has trained thousands of school, health care, government, law enforcement and military personnel in security practices. Baker has also developed specialized intruder response curriculum for schools and churches, including some of the nation’s leading training on behavior pattern recognition. He is the author of The Church Security Handbook and, with Mark Warren, Active ThreatIn addition, he served as deputy director of training and as an instructor for the Surefire Institute, a California-based tactical lighting manufacturer and tactical training company. He is also the director of security for a church of more than 7,500 in the Kansas City area, a position he has held for more than a decade. Connect with Vaughn Baker on LinkedIn.