Attack renews focus on security – Energy companies ‘ahead of the curve’
23 Oct 2014
National Post – (Latest Edition)
By Geoffrey Morgan
Attack renews focus on security
Energy companies ‘ahead of the curve’
Kevin Ripa is pretty confident his phone will soon ring, following Wednesday’s stunning and brazen attack on Parliament Hill.
As owner and president of JS Kramer and Associates, a firm that provides executive protection and security consulting to companies across Canada, Mr. Ripa said that such high-profile attacks always lead to an increased number of inquiries. Companies that had previously been lax on security are suddenly looking to beef up. Just as predictably, time passes, panic wanes, and security priorities slide once again.
“We will always see an increase in calls after events like [9/11], and we’re certainly going to see an increase in calls after what we’re seeing in Ottawa right now,” Mr. Ripa said. “It’s been our experience that [this] is more the immediate fear, but as soon as they [companies] put a little bit of time between the incident and when we’re getting involved, that starts to get tempered.”
As Paladin Security vicepresident Tyson Black said Wednesday, “Reactionary security is no security at all.”
In fact, Burnaby, B.C.-based Paladin was already seeing a dramatic uptick in calls for service after news broke from Ottawa. “We have noticed a marked increase in calls for service … and anticipate this to continue as the tragic events in Ontario play out,” Mr. Black said.
Airports, corporate headquarters and government offices all went into high alert Wednesday after a soldier at the National War Memorial was shot and killed, a gunman stormed Parliament’s Centre Block, and reports swirled of other gunmen terrorizing the National Capital Region.
A source at a major, national commercial landlord confirmed that the company had increased security at all of its buildings across Canada following the Ottawa attack. The person requested the company remain unidentified, so as not to induce panic among its many tenants.
After 9/11, companies and governments all put an urgent focus on tightening up anything that might be seen as a strategic target. Everything from power facilities, harbours and field operations like mines and gas lines, to office buildings, shopping malls and train stations were evaluated, redesigned and equipped with procedures, facilities and staff to prepare for the 21st-century terror threat. Security at Canada’s Parliament buildings was overhauled: As was demonstrated on Wednesday, even those measures could not prevent an attack.
“It’s unconscionable that an armed person can go right into the [Parliament] building,” Mr. Ripa said. “But when you look at the unfortunate shooting of the military person at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, how do you protect against that? There’s no way you could have known that was going to happen.”
Corporate security executives, including Mr. Black and Mr. Ripa, said that companies tend to ramp up security only after they’ve been targeted by violence or crime.
Banks, for instance, are more prone to take preventative measures to protect their people and assets, Mr. Ripa said, because they are frequently targeted in robberies, and their executives are often targeted in what he refers to as “tiger kidnappings,” or hostage-taking for ransom.
Similarly, the oil and gas industry tends to take security more seriously than others. “Energy companies have always been ahead of the curve so to speak — they are often the trendsetters in security and safety advancement, protocol and implementation,” Mr. Black said.
Neil Weaver, vice-president of strategic accounts at Montrealbased Garda-World Protective Services, which is contracted to perform security screening at 28 Canadian airports, said that industries facing strict regulation tend to have the most comprehensive security systems in place.
However, both big and small companies across multiple industries are unprepared for violent attacks like the one in Ottawa. “If you bring in a security consultant to do an audit, they will tell you right away where your shortcomings are,” Mr. Ripa said.
He spoke of one major Vancouver-headquartered company that had hired his firm to do a security audit. Though he couldn’t name the firm, Mr. Ripa said one glaringly obvious problem needed to be fixed: company employees were leaving windows open all night that opened directly onto fire escapes.
Lax security measures can still be found across the board. “There are very large multinationals headquartered here that don’t have the security that, in our view, they should have,” Mr. Ripa said from his office in Calgary. “In many instances it is complacency: nothing has happened.”