Nick Catrantzos, who writes at http://all-secure.blogspot.com, contributed today’s post. His writing has appeared several times before in Homeland Security Watch:
In the pantheon of devastating events, hurricanes rank high. One of the few handles a hurricane offers defenders for at least mitigating loss — if not taking charge — is that you can see it coming, hence the benefit of hurricane watch and hurricane warning. Indeed, official sites exist to explain the difference between the two (such as www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/basics.shtml).
Why not apply similar lessons to riots, such as the sore loser Stanley Cup riot that Vancouver experienced June 15th?
Some fundamental differences compel attention, however. First, a hurricane is a natural disaster. A riot is an induced catastrophe. (Mayer Nudell first breathed life into this distinction for me in his classic Handbook for Effective Emergency and Crisis Management, available at www.amazon.com).
Consequently, there are fewer political impediments to declaring a hurricane warning — an announcement that a hurricane is imminent — than to declaring a riot warning. After all, to declare a riot warning is to admit to failures of planning and prevention — something that Vancouver’s (or any jurisdiction’s) leadership would hesitate to do for fear of inspiring lawsuits and removal from office.
But what about a riot watch? Wouldn’t this be more benign and easier for a police agency or merchant’s association to announce every time a public event is likely to produce crowds, the sine qua non for mobs and riots?
Assuming this to be the case, what is a merchant to do? Again, transferring a lesson from hurricanes to riots may avail.
Everyone has seen certain supplies run out as people prepare for hurricanes, including plywood and duct tape. If I were a merchant in downtown Vancouver, I would anticipate the destructive impact of a possible riot the same way a Floridian counterpart would try to minimize damage to the store in the face of an approaching hurricane. Seal off the shop. Affix plywood panels to cover the display windows, under the likely assumption that if any crowd is transiting the area in large numbers after being stoked on high emotions, liquor, or drugs, the best of glass-break sensors and intrusion alarms will never summon any response force that will be able to arrive in time to defend your property and source of livelihood.
Private security will not be able to reach your store and police will have other, life safety priorities taking precedence over protecting your inventory. So, if you do not see to your own defenses, looters and vandals will likely face no impediment to stealing and destroying your shop and any others in their path. Under the circumstances, making access to your business just a little more difficult than to the next shop may make all the difference between staying in business and going broke.
Here is where I would veer a bit off the hurricane preparations, though. Paint the plywood in the colors of the local sports team, whatever it might be, and then stencil across these plywood window protectors a message of support for the local team. In Vancouver’s case, the message would be, “Go Canucks!” Then, affix a small sign on your front door saying, “Closed for the game. Go Canucks, go.”
What does this do?
For rioters whose inspiration or pretense for mayhem retains even the thinnest connection to the sporting event that drew them to congregate in the first place, your sign is the equivalent of a metaphorical cross before a vampire. Attacking your shop so adorned takes on the symbolic appearance of attacking one’s own team — sacrilege to even a drunken sports fan.
Best of all, this serves your interests equally regardless of whether the home team wins or loses. Remember that riots increasingly break out among exuberant crowds even when they are celebrating home team victories as much as when they are lamenting home team defeats.
Do I have research-supported data guaranteeing this defense will work? Not at all. But compared to the high cost of insurance and potential exclusion of coverage for riot-related damage, a business owner may well feel there is more to gain than lose by trying it out.