Predictive Profiling for Office Building Security
“Predictive profiling deals with behavior, situations and objects – any indicator that correlates to an adversarial method of operation (MO),” says Anna Polishuk, business development manager for Chameleon Associates, a security consulting firm. “It builds on knowledge of the adversary’s MO for a particular protected environment.”
“We attach what we call suspicion indicators to each MO,” Polishuk continues. “A security officer should look for these indicators in people, things, or situations. Once an indicator is identified, the next step is to refute it, usually through questioning.”
Suspicion indicators in a building setting might include:
- Unattended bags
- A person asking too many questions
- Someone trying to befriend an employee or security officer
- A person claiming to be a vendor who isn’t dressed appropriately or doesn’t have the right tools
- An individual claiming to be going to a job interview but isn’t dressed appropriately
- A traveler carrying an obviously empty (light weight) suitcase
In short, a suspicion indicator makes you suspicious. “Not everything abnormal is suspicious,” says Polishuk. “A suspicion indicator has to correlate with a relevant MO.”
A nervous, inappropriately dressed young man walking hurriedly through a building lobby correlates with a laptop thief – as well as an anxious son who has come to tell his father that he just wrecked the car. The idea is to make sure that the worse MO – stealing laptops – is not true.
Chameleon Associates calls it refuting the suspicion with security questioning. A trained security officer will keep up a friendly conversation while looking for hesitations, inconsistencies, and body language that express discomfort.
“Questioning should focus on three levels: a person’s identity, time and place, and the mission,” Polishuk says. “Is this person who he says he is? Why is she here? Why is she here now?”
Predictive profiling and pattern recognition can prevent escalation, deter criminal activities, and keep occupants safe.
“We tell our clients that this is a force multiplier,” says Polishuk. “Train security officers as well as the rest of the property management team. If the custodians and receptionists understand the possible threats and the suspicion indicators, you could have a couple hundred people helping to keep watch.”