Don’t Be A Target: Hire Smart

Don’t Be A Target: Hire Smart

After having a negative experience from hiring a handyman online, I’ve been asked by many of my friends, family, and concerned local citizens, to write a new blog post about safety concerns when hiring from online. 

This blog will be similar in nature to my previous blog titled: “Don’t Be A Target: Travel Smart” which I would highly recommend you read if you haven’t.  It highlights the dos/don’ts of traveling throughout the United States and overseas.

Now back to the meat and potatoes of Don’t Be A Target: Hire Smart.

As many of you may know, I hired a handyman recently to fix a faulty door at my residence.  I visited the popular website Home Advisor, entered my information and the job I needed assistance with.  A few hours later, I received a text from a local number, stating “Do you still need a home repair pro?”

I replied “yes” and we scheduled a time for him to complete the repairs.  After “no-showing” at our agreeable upon time, he finally arrive the following day. 

As I always do, I met the worker outside of my residence so I could see what vehicle he arrived in.  From the minute he stepped out of his vehicle (he was the passenger, female driver stayed in the driver’s seat and remained parked in front of my residence), I had a bad feeling about him and the situation.  I don’t mean to stereo-type anyone but when you’re expecting Santa Clause to show up and the Easter Bunny comes hopping up….  Well you get the picture.

After remembering a good description of the vehicle and the “handyman,” I invited him inside and escorted him to my faulty door.  From the moment he entered my kitchen, I could tell he had no knowledge of handyman repairs and my door wasn’t getting fixed with the one screwdriver he had in his back pocket. 

After I made it very obvious that I wasn’t falling for his scam, I asked him to confirm his company name that I was assigned from Home Advisor.  After a brief pause, he stated a company name that didn’t match.  At this point, I moved from about 10 feet away to about 3 feet away and stood there with my arms crossed and gave him that look we’ve all gotten from our parents at one time or another when we were late for curfew.  You know that look, “the one you get when they say, hey your story has more holes than Swiss cheese buddy.”

While this was happening with me inside, unbeknownst to me (after viewing my security cameras) the female driver had exited their vehicle and was standing outside my residence with an empty duffle bag. 

I think at this point, he was far more uncomfortable than I was and he stated he needed to go to his vehicle to get a drill.  He exited my residence quickly, motioning to the female to get in the vehicle and they quickly sped away.  Drawing the attention of a few neighbors outside, from their erratic driving. 

After filing a police report and continuing to further investigate their identity, I was able to find out that he has a criminal record a mile long for doing just this.  Theft, assault, scamming, credit card fraud, and a few others across multiple states. 

Tips To Hiring Safe

Although there are plenty of small businesses across America that provide a great service to our economy and neighborhoods, unfortunately that is where a lot of bad businesses can survive. 

It’s important that you do a few of these tips to best prepare yourself and not be a victim.

Do:

  • Ask the company you are hiring:

What is the name of the employee they are sending?

Will the employee be wearing a uniform?

Will the employee have a company ID badge? (some small businesses don’t have uniforms or badges but you can ask to see a driver’s license)

Will the employee arrive in a company truck? What does it look like?

Has the company ran a background check on that employee?

  • Meet the employee outside to witness what vehicle they arrive in and verify their identity before allowing them to enter your residence.  If any of this doesn’t match, just call the business and verify the employee at your residence.  They might have had a schedule change and had to send someone different. 
  • After verifying the employee, escort them to the area where they are working and remain there for the work period.  If they are going to work for a long period of time, it might not be feasible to remain there the entire time but check on them frequently. 
  • Remove all valuables from sight and close all doors except for the working area. 
  • If the situation becomes uncomfortable or doesn’t seem right, don’t try to confront the employee.  Exit your residence and either call the company or 911.  That decision is up to your discretion, depending on the severity of the situation.  If the situation is hostile, don’t worry about protecting your belongings, just get out and call 911. 
  • Ask the company before the employee arrives, what the total charges will be and payment methods.  Many small businesses will only accept cash or check due to high credit card charges.  So cash and checks are normal for small businesses.  If you pay in cash, ALWAYS ASK FOR A RECEIPT.
  • If possible, write down or take a photo of the employees vehicle and license plate.   

Don’t:

  • Allow the employee to enter your residence without verifying them first.
  • If possible, don’t allow them to roam around your residence without being present.  This may not be possible and will be your choice in giving them permission to be unattended. 
  • Pay with cash or check and not get a receipt.
  • Agree to pay more than the stated charge without verifying the changes with the main company. 
  • Agree to pay for services in exchange for the employee to return to your residence at a later time to continue/finish the original job. 
  • Some companies will conduct a service call to establish the deficiency first, order needed parts, and then return to fix the issue.  This is normal but up to your discretion as to the validity of the issue and if the company is a reputable company.  This creates an opportunity for a bad company to state they need money to order parts and then never return once you pay them. 
  • Don’t try to stop an employee from stealing.  Just exit your residence and call the main company or 911. 
  • If something negative does happen and you aren’t able to identify the employee, try to remember what objects the employee touched for fingerprint evidence. 

Proper Security Camera Placement

Modern day security cameras are getting pretty sophisticated and are viewable through wifi on your computer or phones.  If at all possible, aim your cameras to cover not only your exterior doors but also driveway and streets.  Sometimes the resolution isn’t the greatest on such small cameras but they can still gather a good general description of all involved and vehicles. 

Mount your cameras high enough, so they can’t be hit or destroyed without someone using a ladder or long pole. 

Test your camera’s angles.  Walk around your property and then view your camera footage.  Are you able to get a good face ID photo?  Do you cameras overlap and provide complete 360 degree coverage of your property.  A camera facing a main street is just as important as a camera covering your fenced in yard.  Someone can talk their way out of why they walked through your front yard, but can’t explain why they hopped over your fence. 

Well, I hope these tips help you out if you ever decide to hire someone from online.  Remember, stay vigilant and if it doesn’t feel right, get out and call 911. 

PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT 

Modernizing Emergency Management

owner

Steve Smerick

www.proactiveblueprint.net   

Emergency management apprenticeship program approved for FCC

An apprenticeship program proposed by Frederick Community College, which would develop a pool of potential employees in the emergency management field, has received state approval.

The Maryland Emergency Management Registered Apprenticeship Program, the first of its kind in Maryland, aims to fill a gap in the state’s emergency management workforce and provide employers with a trained pool of potential employees.

The non-traditional apprenticeship program will develop a cadre of well-rounded, experienced, trained, and educated apprentices, and makes Maryland just the second state with such a program.

The Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management, known as MACEM, partnered with FCC in proposing the program.

MACEM developed the Registered Apprenticeship program in partnership with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Apprenticeship and Training Program, which announced the approval.

“The creation of this first-in-Maryland emergency management apprenticeship program will help fill these vital occupations by broadening our pool of qualified candidates,” Labor Secretary Kelly Schulz said in a press release. “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate in support of Maryland’s emergency management industry.”

The program will combine academic courses with on-the-job training completed at the employer’s work site. It is geared to people looking to gain full-time employment and academic credentials in emergency management.

“We are looking for employers to work with us to develop the next generation of emergency managers,” said Kathy Francis, executive director for emergency management at FCC. “Many different professions require emergency management capabilities, and connecting motivated students with employers looking to expand their emergency management capabilities is a win-win.”

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency, University of Maryland University College, Montgomery College, and Anne Arundel Community College are also partners in the program.

By Allen Etzler aetzler@newspost.com

Don’t Be a Target: Travel Smart

Don’t Be a Target: Travel Smart

When traveling to unfamiliar areas, whether it be a new city within the United States or traveling abroad, it’s important to travel smart in order to not present yourself as an easy target. The main topic to keep in mind when traveling: Blend in. We’ve all been there, walking around in a familiar city and you can easily pick out a tourist. Map and camera in hand, asking for direction, closely studying the local public transportation maps at each stop or enjoying the sights and sounds of their newly found attraction, while the locals are hustling by. The next few topics are those that should be researched and studied before traveling to keep yourself from being an easy target.

Airport Arrival:
Upon arrival, follow the baggage claim signs and walk confidently to claim your luggage. You didn’t travel all this way to stop and take photos in the airport.
Research the location of the rental car business. Know if it’s on or off the airport property. Do you need to take a shuttle to get your car?

Research taxi fare costs from the airport to your hotel. If you’re taking a taxi from the airport to a popular tourist spot, the taxi driver will already know an estimated amount of fare. Ask before you get in the taxi. Make sure the driver starts the meter. Don’t arrive at your hotel to find out that a 10 minute ride just cost you $50.

Always carry a paper map along with a smart phone map to better understand an unfamiliar area. Being aware of general directions will greatly help with an overall confident appearance in public. Simply stating to a taxi driver that you would rather take 10th Street instead of Washington Avenue, sets the tone that you know your way around and you won’t be hustled.
Always walk straight to the first taxi in line. If you are encouraged or pushed by the taxi attendant to another taxi waiting nearby, insist on taking the first taxi that any local person would use.

Take a screenshot/photo of a paper map in case you lose cell phone/GPS coverage while traveling.

Public Transportation:
Understand the local public transportation systems: Walking confidently from stop to stop or transfer to transfer, gives the appearance that you’re a local. Locals tend to carry less valuables than a traveler does.
Research payment methods: Knowing what the local bus or train fare is before getting onboard will help you blend in. Just think, do local routine bus riders have to stop and ask the driver how much it cost to ride? Nope, but travelers do.
Hotel:

Pick a hotel in a well populated and lit area. Even though you may be in a tourists area, you’re chances of being a victim as a tourist are less likely in an area with many tourist rather than an area where you’re the only tourist.
Know all emergency exits at your hotel. Don’t be afraid to play the dumb tourist and walk into an “employee only” door to find out if there are any additional exits to the hotel.
Use any secondary locks on your room doors when you’re inside. There are a few secondary door stops that you can travel with which are inexpensive to purchase.
Take all valuables with you when leaving the room, no matter how long you will be gone.
Buy a local prepaid phone from a foreign country. Put the local police, nearest hospital, your hotel, and United States Embassy phone numbers in your newly purchase prepaid phone. In the event of an emergency, you don’t want to find out that your personal phone doesn’t work in the area you’re at.

Attempt to get a second floor room. A second floor room is low enough to jump from during an emergency but less accessible from outside.
Monitor what nationalities are in adjacent rooms. Is the hotel rooming all Americans adjacent to each other? Are these rooms being monitored?
Valuables:

Use traveler’s checks or carry multiple debit/credit cards when traveling. Ask friends/family to carry some of your cards and carry theirs in case someone loses a wallet.
Photo copy everything in your wallet. That way if your wallet is stolen, you’ll have copies of all your cards and identification to report stolen/lost.
Save a copy of all your photocopies in an email. In the event that you lose everything, you can always access your email account and print identification documents.
Don’t show large amounts of cash. Carry minimal spending cash in your front pocket to use for general purchases. Don’t pull out your wallet with all your money to purchase a $5 item.
Carry your wallet with minimal items in it in your front pocket. You are less likely to have your wallet stolen if it’s in your front pocket.
Avoid flashy jewelry and watches. “Bling” catches a thief’s eye.
Carry a paper map and mark all the danger zones, police stations, hospitals, and United States Embassy on it.

Embassy:
Report to the Embassy for any lost/stolen passport issues. Present a photo copy of your passport to further expedite getting a new one.
Report to the Embassy for any non-medical emergency related issues. In the event of a medical issues, seek medical attention at a local hospital but also contact the local Embassy for further medical guidance.
Visit the Department of State website and research the country you are traveling to in regards to the area risk assessment. http://www.state.gov/

Ways PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT Can Be Used During A Crisis

Public Associations:
In today’s society, emergency management situations such as active shooter, fire, natural disasters and search and rescue operations occur with in a variety of locations such as churches, shopping malls, civic centers, schools, government facilities, offices and social areas. PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT provides emergency services, both government and civilian, with a modernized emergency management solution to enhance their planning and coordination activities when many of these incidents occur. PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT puts this vital information into the hands of emergency response professionals when they need it most.

Schools:
PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT provides an added level of comfort to students, faculty and parents alike, in the event of a crisis that requires assistance from emergency services. Our Aerial Reference Guide (ARG) can be used to quickly assign assembly areas for students and faculty to meet up when it is safe to exit the crisis area. Students and faculty can also use detailed floor plans to relay important information to responding emergency personnel. Emergency response personnel can use PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT to quickly and effectively coordinate response efforts where they are needed most. Tactical teams can access PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT both inside and outside of a building, which can greatly aide in their efforts in planning a quick and safe high risk entry.

Cultural Institutions:
With the increased number of civil unrest incidents occurring throughout the United States, emergency services now more than ever require the ability to quickly plan and coordinate crowd control operations and maintain peace throughout public establishments.

Government:
PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT provides a modernized emergency management solutions to be used by government authorities to quickly respond to and assess many incidents at government facilities to include city hall, courthouses and child/family services. PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT can provide law enforcement and tactical teams detailed plans of buildings within their jurisdiction which will greatly aide in their efforts during many emergency incidents. Tactical response teams will have the ability to view a crisis area from a safe distance and plan efficient breaching methods before encountering a barricaded door.

Housing Authorities:
PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT offers detailed aerial imagery of each blueprinted location which greatly enhances both urban planning projects and incident response situations and coordination operations. Emergency coordinators can use PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT’s Ariel Reference Guide (ARG) to quickly assign search and crime scene cordon areas.

Hospitals/Medical Facilities:
Not only can PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT be used to assist emergency services during an on-site incident but PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT’s Aerial Reference Guide (ARG) and MEDEVAC survey, will provide a priceless coordination solution when a medical facility is used as a crisis command post for a far greater local disaster.

Tell us your thoughts and ideas on ways PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT can be used during emergency management scenarios.

Former Marine Infantry Officer’s Thoughts on PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT

As a former Marine Infantry officer a constant issue I faced was having the training resources necessary to properly prepare Marines for the rigors of operations in urban terrain. MOUT site and combat towns were limited in availability and costly. Using Proactive Blueprint as a training tool would have been an invaluable asset. With its ???low cost??? Marines could conduct walkthroughs of a myriad of real world structures. These exacting and detailed walkthroughs would not only ensure the limited time spent at MOUT facilities was used efficiently, but would expose Marines to the nuances of urban combat rarely experienced in building block MOUT sites.

-Pete K. former Marine Infantry Officer

Physical Security: Are We Protecting People or Trapping Them

Editor’s Note: At Campus Safety Conference West last week, one of the speakers stressed the need for window security film to prevent or delay the ingress of attackers like the Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman. Although ballistic film can provide protection against intruders, campuses must make sure this solution doesn’t hinder campus occupant evacuation or police/fire/EMS response.

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FBI: U.S. now has one active shooter incident every three weeks

Active shooter incidents are becoming more common, according to an FBI report released Wednesday.

The study defines “active shooter incident” as one involving “an individual or individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” An active shooter incident isn’t exactly the same thing as a mass killing, which according to a new federal definition involves at least three fatalities. Only 40 percent of the incidents in the FBI report would qualify as mass killings. (Sidebar: How sad is it that our official vocabulary of killing has grown so complex and precise in recent years?)

To read more of Christopher Ingraham article, click here.

A Mass Shooting Survivor’s Thoughts on PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT

I think it’s easy for all of us to get wrapped up in thoughts of “forever” or the thought that “there’s always next time”. But, I know from experience that there isn’t always next time. We live lives very accustomed to tragedies on every screen, every newspaper, and mumbling through each radio report. Its becoming the norm to hear the reports of drug deals in our church parking lot, gang violence a block from our old elementary school, and yet another shooting, stabbing, or violent attack in almost every location we once thought “it could never happen”. I can’t remember the last time that I felt safe anywhere, even in my own home. Because I am someone constantly considering personal safety, it was an easy decision to get behind PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT. I’m confident in saying that PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT can help anyone within a Saber Security Proactive Blueprinted building feel and be safer in the event that tragedy strikes. I know from experience that with a mass shooting comes crisis and chaos. Seconds are speeding by, yet each one means more than the last and a victim will forever remember every second as if its playing on a loop within their mind.

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How PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT got started

I’m the first to say “YES” to defense. I fought upon enough sweaty deserts and planned my share of special operations missions “across the pond” not to recognize our nation’s need for a strong defense. I also worked with some pretty incredible defense weaponry as well as every gadget-lover’s mecca of offensive planning tools. My
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