Awareness – The Foundation of Good Security

If you were learning a martial art, such as karate, one of the first steps would be to learn how to stand. Not standing as if you were waiting in line at the grocery store; but standing in a stance that helps you maintain balance. A karate student learns several different stances for different positions and situations, all of which keep the weight distributed more evenly and have a lower center of gravity than normal, making it easier to stay on your feet rather than getting knocked down.

In my book, Workplace Security Essentials, I looked at how martial art skills translate to the protection and security of organizations, such as businesses, schools or hospitals. The stance is the basic posture or position, such as a business’ awareness of security risks forms its posture or position related to risks.

In short, if a business wants to improve security or protect itself from crime, leaders must create awareness and share information about security concerns. But how is that done?

The heart of awareness is knowledge – knowledge about the real-life problems, challenges and threats facing a business or workplace. That means an organization needs to have a record of crimes that have happened at the site or immediate surroundings. Even small businesses with less activity can still look at crime in the area, using local police information about risks in the community.

In fact, tracking criminal activity is considered so important that higher education, such as colleges and universities, are required to maintain records and logs of criminal events per the Clery Act.
The Clery Act requires universities and colleges to track crime. (photo from Wiki Commons)

To be even more effective, knowledge has to be shared. Use the crime log to keep employees up-to-date on any security alerts or warnings. This should include crime prevention tips related to any ongoing crime patterns or even BOLOs (Be On the Look Out) to help employees recognize suspects or suspicious activity.

Unfortunately, some leaders feel that sharing crime information only creates alarm or undue distractions for employees. My experience has been the opposite. Not sharing information, especially about any crimes that have occurred on the company grounds or to employees, will be passed along – often through rumors that grow and change until the original minor crime has morphed into the most heinous crime of the century. Sharing information, along with practical prevention tips, will build real awareness. Perhaps more importantly, it builds trust. Employees will feel that the organization is looking out for them, not keeping them in the dark.

Going back to the Clery Act for higher education, the Act requires that alerts or warnings be issued for specific crimes, including violent and property crimes. Institutions are encouraged to issue warnings for other crimes as well, but leave that up to the school.

Building a base level of knowledge about the real risks and sharing information about those risks is the best way to begin building awareness and developing your security stance. This forms the basis of the security program.

To get more ideas on how to build security awareness, check out Workplace Security Essentials.

Get a Business Black Belt for your organization – visit

Learn self-defense for your business with Eric Smith’s new book, Workplace Security Essentials! Every aspect of protecting a workplace is compared to a self-defense skill taught to budding karate students, all in a practical and entertaining style, drawing on Eric’s law enforcement and security experience.

Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces. To learn more email Eric at businesskarate dot com.


If you would like to reprint this post, please contact Eric at Eric at businesskarate dot com.

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