Patrick Van Horne, 29, is a Marist graduate and enrolled in the MBA program at Fordham University. He lives in Chestnut Ridge. Eighteen months ago, he opened an office in Tarrytown for his business, Active Analysis Consulting. He targets the bad guys in what is currently a one-man shop.
It is Van Horne’s defense-themed life trajectory that provides his credentials: seven years a U.S. Marine, much of it teaching antiterror tactics at California’s Camp Pendleton.
“Originally, I taught behavior analysis to deploying Marines,” he said. “After a while, police departments and security personnel were signing up. There was no one training them to read behaviors.”
Now, he said, “The same observational skills I teach to police – how to recognize threats – are appropriate for big corporations, workplaces, schools, churches, malls and movies. The principles are designed to identify attacks before they occur.”
He calls the method “absolutely doable.”
Violence is not new, but it seems to be getting closer to home and business life? Is this perception valid?
“I believe it is, but what’s more important is that there is the perception that violence is increasing and also occurring in areas where we would expect to be safe. Shootings in places like malls, schools, movie theaters and other public places are still statistically improbable, but each successful attack undermines the confidence we that have in our personal safety.”
Threats can be vague. Shareholders and taxpayers demand tightly run companies and governments. Is a balance achievable?
“It is, but it requires intelligent and innovative approaches to recognizing threats. Focusing solely on defending against ‘outsiders’ by installing more bulletproof glass, metal detectors, turnstiles and more security guards only defends against a portion of the possible threats. This needs to be balanced with educating employees, teachers and the general public how to recognize people with violent intentions. This is what will allow us to protect against the insider threat in workplaces, schools, and public places as well as the outside threat.”
Any evidence in Westchester that companies and governments are embracing more security?
“There is, but people are looking for solutions that empower them to ensure their own safety, not continuing to rely on other people to do it for them. Companies are looking for training so they can provide their employees with the ability to provide for their own safety. Developing this ability in employees goes beyond recognizing just workplace related violence and helps keep them safe after the workday is over, as well.”
Businesses seem to escape direct targeting, or do they?
“I don’t believe there is a difference between being targeted directly or indirectly. If you look at the shooting at the Empire State Building last August, when a fired employee shot his former boss, or when the Associated Press had its Twitter account hacked, whether the companies affected were the direct target or not is irrelevant to the fact their company suffered from the impact. Movie theaters that experienced a loss in sales due to the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, were not associated with the attack, but need to prepare in just the same way to reduce that risk.”
What is “situational awareness,” a term which you use?
“Situational awareness is being alert and actively checking your surroundings to ensure your own safety. People who are unaware of what is happening around them will miss the cues that could alert them to the indicators that present themselves before an attack. This goes beyond just looking for unattended packages, but also assessing the intentions of the people around you. For example, a person who is trying to avoid detection before an attack may begin to give off uncomfortable cues if they are worried about getting caught.”
What do you mean by “being unnecessarily uncomfortable”?
“Uncomfortable cues are just one example of behavior that is uncontrollable and universal. The way the body responds to stressful situations is through what many people know as the freeze, flight or fight response. Behavior that otherwise might be referred to as anxious or nervous are one way to identify when someone is experiencing a stress response. When someone is attempting to conceal their intentions, such as smuggling a gun or bomb past a security checkpoint, this could be one indicator that would allow people to identify those who stand out from the crowd.
Westchester is rich in office parks. Are they practical from a security standpoint?
“There are strengths and weaknesses to securing buildings of all sizes. While office parks will have a greater number of entry points and a greater number of people coming and going, they also have more resources to dedicate to security than a small building might. No risk, however, can be reduced to zero. The only way to ensure that there aren’t any workplace violence incidents is to have no employees, which of course isn’t practical. The goal is to find a level of risk that is acceptable and by educating people on how to read behavior they can separate those with violent intentions from the crowd they hide among. This is how we can proactively identify these individuals, prevent violence and reestablish our sense of safety in public.”
Is there a generational disconnect in the perception of threats, with one generation “getting it?”
“I don’t see a disconnect between generations, but typically the people who are in a position to influence a security budget are older and have more experience.”
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