Avoiding duress device pitfalls

Best practices organizations should implement when using duress technology


  • Ability to de-escalate a situation while silently calling for help 
  • If appropriate, a way to safely let the at-risk individual know that the call for help was received and is being acted upon
  • A means for responders to obtain situational awareness
  • Technology that is proven to be fully functional and is regularly tested
  • Personnel who are trained in when and how to use the duress technology
  • Personnel who are much more likely to be able to remain calm and take appropriate actions

It is very important to develop design-basis scenarios, which describe the situations under which the duress device should be activated and what the individual is to do afterwards. Not all situations require the same handling.

For example, an escalating argument between two employees wouldn’t be treated the same way as a disgruntled individual with a gun. If the design documentation doesn’t capture the scenarios on which the devices and procedures were based, how can the physical design, procedures and training be evaluated for fitness to purpose? What if the threat picture changes? Are the existing measures adequate or may changes be needed?

For duress technology standards, design tips, personnel training guidance and related checklists, visit www.go-rbcs.com/duress-design.

About the AuthorRay Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS go to www.go-rbcs.com or call 949-831-6788. Mr. Bernard is also a member of the Content Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (www.SecurityExecutiveCouncil.com). Follow Ray on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS.