Security, soccer riots, political attacks and negligence

March 16, 2012
What the Egyptian soccer riot says about security

You're measured by what you don't do as equally as you are measured by what you do. It's just as true in the security world as it is elsewhere. Remember the case of the unarmed Seattle transit officers who stood there and watched a young girl be beaten in robbed at their feet? If not, watch the disturbing video again as the girl is kicked in the head while they do nothing. Maybe they were on "observe and report" duties, but even if post orders said you just call police, is there some reasonable expectation of intervention. On the other extreme, there's the case of a loss prevention agent in the UK who chased a shoplifter at up to 100 mph, directed the police helicopter, and generally acted as the long arm of the law. Perhaps that's going a bit too far? Do you wonder what his manager said to him when he returned to the store?

And then there's the case of the security chief and officers who have been charged with neglect following an Egyptian soccer riot that left 74 dead. It's difficult to armchair quarterback this incident from half-way around the world, when you don't speak the language, when you didn't see the incident, but what we do know is that the prosecutor's office has charged the security chief and nine police officers with negligence in the deaths of soccer fans/protesters last month. From the newspaper reports, it's clear that 1) the attacks were politically motivated more than soccer-motivated, 2) the attackers, which were local fans, plotted their murders, 3) police didn't step in to squelch the violence. I highly doubt the police were on "observe and report".

It raises a few questions for corporate security managers: Have you thought about how you respond to an incident? Does "observe and report" put your security department on dangerous ground legally? Would your officers stand by if a beating was occurring at their feet? Would they just radio it in? Do duties changes depending on the severity of the incident and violence of the threat? How do you have this documented? Would a prosecutor be likely to charge your organization with negligence if your officers stood by and watched a man be beaten or murdered on your premises? Call your legal department and ask them; at the very least, it's a dialogue you should be having.