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Recent Kidnapping Provides Lessons

It is usually unfair to armchair quarterback the failures of a security program, particularly the one Mayor Bloomberg’s well-regarded security team operates. However, at this early stage there appears to have been three opportunities to prevent the housekeeper’s kidnapping at his ranch in Colorado last week.

Targeted attackers conduct pre-attack surveillance. News reports claim Joseph Beecher had gone to a local airport in hopes of locating Mayor Bloomberg. While we do not know what efforts Beecher made at the airport, a counter-surveillance program may have detected his suspicious behavior and tagged him for further investigation. If he lay in wait as Bloomberg arrived by air, or made pointed inquiries of airport staff as to his arrival and departure times, the failure to notice that suspicious behavior would be a deficiency in the security program.

Violent conduct often arises following personal setbacks. If Beecher had made it on to the radar of Bloomberg security, they perhaps could have learned that Beecher lost both his job and housing when he was fired from a live-in maintenance position near the ranch. Perpetrators of targeted violence have often experienced significant personal losses prior to their attacks. Social media monitoring of suspicious people − “subjects of interest” − may reveal personal crises that make them more prone to violence and merit an increase in security.

Security cameras do more than just record. Court documents say that security cameras recorded Beecher arriving at the ranch, getting out of his car and examining the locked gate prior to crashing his truck through it. If the video camera was equipped with video analytics, the appearance of an unexpected person at a locked gate would trigger an alarm and the attention of an operator at a central monitoring station. That operator would have seen the truck ram open the gate, and could have called police immediately, avoiding the harrowing kidnapping that the Bloomberg household employee endured.

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