According to Wikipedia, a “Hotwash” is… the immediate “after-action” discussions and evaluations of an agency’s performance following an exercise, training session, or major event. The main purpose of a “hotwash” session is to identify strengths and weaknesses of the response to that given event, which is intended to guide future response direction in order to avoid repeating errors made in the past.
For this week’s Employee Crime Response Training blog, we sat down with Viridis Security Group’s Director of Professional Services Chris Hinnershitz and Corporate Security Specialist Jim Minninger to “hotwash” the details of a recent robbery at a Sonoma, California medical cannabis distribution center. You can read the full details of the story here.
In a nutshell, this case involves a cannabis distribution center employee closing the business in the evening and exiting, by herself, to her car in the parking lot. Once in her car, she was blocked in by the perpetrators’ vehicle and forced at gunpoint to re-enter the business and open the vault, where, due to cannabis banking laws, there was a stockpile of cash. The criminals quickly canvassed the business before emptying the vault and exiting the property.
Obviously, the growing number of all-cash cannabis businesses presents the opportunity for criminal activity; but with the right combination of employee training and physical security measures the team at VSG believes that risk can be dramatically reduced.
So what details about this CA case stand out for the VSG staff? First and foremost, why was this employee exiting the business by herself?
“The opening and the closing of the facility; going from the parking lot to the building and building to the parking lot is a time when situational awareness has to be elevated,” said Minninger.
“We would obviously want there to be security personnel on duty to escort employees from the building during those times,” Hinnershitz agreed.
And don’t the details of this case scream “inside job?” It certainly seemed like the perpetrators had some cursory knowledge of the exit protocol if not an exact schedule of when employees left the building.
“I’ve been recommending security staff be there an hour before opening and one hour after closing but that shift varies,” said Hinnershitz. “One day it’s 15 minutes, one day it’s 45 minutes.”
This staggered schedule helps to reduce the possibility that a perpetrator can recognize a pattern of behavior in the closing procedure.
What about the behavior of the employee? Was she correct in re-opening the business and vault for the gun-wielding assailants?
“Material or money is never worth losing your life over,” said Minninger.
Once a firearm is added to the equation, compliance is the best procedure.
What COULD have turned the tide in this case were some basic security measures built into the business’s policy and procedure. Things like a “duress button” on the employee’s phone or a secondary alarm code or button on the vault keypad to alert law enforcement of the robbery in real time, are standard features in Viridis Security Group’s physical security offerings.
And training, lots of training! Included in the VSG list of services is probably the most important piece to preventing criminal activity, Crisis Response Training.
The Viridis team has a proven track record of integrating top quality security policies and procedures in other highly regulated businesses, like pharmaceutical distribution centers, schools and nursing homes; but also training those businesses’ employees in crisis response.
This, often neglected, Crisis Response Training allows legal cannabis businesses to…
- Clarify roles and expectations
- Reinforce knowledge
- Improve individual and team (facility-wide) performance
- Evaluate the policy/procedure, plans and staff knowledge
- Identify what works
- Show areas in need of improvement or additional resources
Are you a legal cannabis business owner looking to improve the training of your employees and reduce risk at your business? Check out Viridis Security Group’s list of services, which include both didactic and practical training for these types of situations and others.
“You always revert to your lowest level of training,” Hinnershitz noted.
Why not contact Viridis Security Group now to make sure you (and your employee’s) level of training is adequate to reduce the many risks that accompany this new industry? Request a Free Quote