January 2022 – Top News in the Security and Risk Industry and Grants

By Daniel Young | February 4, 2022 | 6 min read
January 2021 industry news

There’s a lot going on in the world of physical risk and vulnerability; it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest news and developments. We’ll keep you informed with the best content to keep your organization safe and secure. Check out the top news and headlines from the past month.

When a killer tornado destroyed a sprawling factory and nobody died - lessons for Amazon

From Sustain What: During December’s tornado outbreak, six people were killed when one of Amazon's huge five-year-old fulfillment centers in Edwardsville, Illinois, partially ripped apart after suffering a direct hit from a tornado with winds that reached 150 miles per hour in its brief four minutes and 3.65 miles of existence. Writer Andrew Revkin compares that tragedy to a similar tornado hit in 2004, when a tornado at EF-4 intensity, with winds between 210 and 240 miles per hour ripped apart the recently-expanded 250,000-square-foot metal-working and assembly plant of Parsons Manufacturing, with 150 workers and visitors inside. Thanks to the building’s design, no one was killed or injured.

Our take: Revkin’s article is well worth a read for business owners in tornado-prone areas. Parsons’ owner, Bob Parsons, designed the plant and company protocols from the beginning with tornado safety in mind, rather than relying on regulations or codes. The Parsons building, when struck, had three distributed storm shelters (doubling as rest rooms), built of steel-reinforced concrete, making it easy for employees anywhere in the plant to seek safety when warned. An employee trained as a tornado spotter was also on staff, and managers were trained to sweep the area for safety after the take-cover alert had sounded. When Parsons rebuilt in 2005, the result was a 300,000-square-foot facility on the same site, now with seven reinforced storm shelters. The takeaway: it is possible to create sites and protocols that will protect your workers during an incident — even during a tornado.

Catalytic converter thefts skyrocket across the nation

From National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB): Thieves are ripping catalytic converters from cars at an alarming rate. As these thefts continue to sweep across the nation, catalytic converter theft victims find they need to fix a major and unexpected problem, a repair that could cost thousands of dollars. According to a report by NICB, the increase in thefts are dramatic. In 2018, there were 1,298 catalytic converter thefts reported. In 2019, there were 3,389 reported thefts. In 2020, reported catalytic converter thefts jumped massively to 14,433, with December leading the way with 2,347 thefts, or roughly 16 percent of the yearly total – in just one month.

Our take: Catalytic converters have always been a target for criminals, but this most recent wave of thefts suggests that more cars are in danger of being damaged than ever before. This trend is a sign that businesses need to place cameras in parking lots, improve their lighting, and even have security personnel make the rounds of parking areas to ensure their lots aren’t being exploited by criminals.

Thieves target another source for stolen goods: Delivery trucks and trains full of packages

From CNBC: Instead of shoplifting from stores, some thieves are zeroing in on another target: Trains and delivery trucks full of packages on the way to customers’ doorsteps. UPS Chief Executive Carol Tome said Friday that one of the company’s 18-wheeler trucks was robbed in Atlanta in the early hours of the morning. She said thieves hijacked the truck after the driver left one of the delivery company’s largest hubs. In downtown Los Angeles, a video from a local station shows looted packages littering the train tracks. Thieves raided cargo containers and left behind cardboard boxes that had been carrying purchases from Amazon and REI, including some with UPS labels and tracking numbers, according to the report.

Our take: The supply chain has been strained for a while, so it’s unsurprising that thieves have decided to hijack goods while they’re on the road – or on the rails. Transportation companies need to start working on plans to protect their drivers, vehicles and the cargo they’re moving. As the economy gets worse, thieves are likely to step up their efforts.

Shooting on I-75 in Michigan latest example of road rage trend

From The Detroit News: A man has been charged in connection with a shooting last week on Interstate 75 in Oakland County, Michigan State Police said. Edward Michael Haywood, 25, was arraigned Monday in 52-2 District Court in Clarkston on a charge of assault with intent to murder, felony firearm and carrying a concealed weapon. Haywood is accused of shooting and wounding another man Friday, Jan. 7 as he traveled in another vehicle on northbound I-75 near East Holly Road, state police officials said. They said the victim was driving in a four-door Chevrolet when a person shot at him. The shooter was driving in a white Audi and fled the freeway at East Holly, continuing in an unknown direction.

Our take: This incident is just the latest in a disturbing trend; road rage incidents have been increasing, and many of them have involved firearms. In the past decade, road rage incidents have increased, and it is something that we are likely to see more of as people become more frustrated by the pandemic, and pre-election tensions increase.

School Board chair addresses threats to members

From During an emergency school board meeting on New Year’s Eve in Chesapeake, Va., school security was directed to move two individuals out of the meeting; and for a brief time, the acting chair directed the entire room cleared after several started screaming at board members. In the days after, threats toward school board members on social media were handed over to the Chesapeake Police Department, per a school division spokesperson.

Our take: Local school boards all over the U.S. have been seeing an increase in threats from members of the public; screaming matches start at board meetings, threats are directed at members in person and online, bomb threats have been called in, and one school board chair wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, saying she’s afraid. In addition, large numbers of school superintendents are resigning. This wave of threats is tied to COVID restrictions and mask mandates and should serve as a warning to school boards that more security is necessary for members and at meetings. Boards should be working closely with local police to ensure safety at meetings and elsewhere.

January’s Top Security Grants

The United States Coast Guard: The purpose of the National Recreational Boating Safety Program is to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths on America’s waterways and to provide a safe enjoyable experience for the boating public. The program also encourages greater nonprofit organization participation and uniformity in boating safety efforts. This competition is only open to nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status. Grant closes: Feb. 18

FEMA’s Assistance to FireFighters Fire Prevention And Safety Grants: The Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Grants are part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and support projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards. The primary goal is to reduce injury and prevent death among high-risk populations. Grant closes: Feb. 18

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