How about that 2020? What a year! A pandemic, quarantines, economic instability, a volatile election, protesting, social unrest, riots, looting. Typical Emergency Preparedness articles focus on fire, flood, and other natural disasters, and 2020 added Infectious Disease Protocols as an important topic, but as we look to the future, we cannot avoid the real possibilities of civil unrest that needs to be addressed.

Individuals or groups of people can and will exercise their right to free speech and assembly. Sometimes, however, peaceful demonstrations can turn confrontational or heated and devolve into a riot or violence. If tensions start to escalate near your community or building, you need to have a Civil Unrest Plan you can quickly mobilize and put into action.

I consulted with Bucks County Officer Robert Lee, who is a school resource officer for four public schools, as well as the owner of Commonwealth Safe Schools LLC. He provides risk and security

34 January | February 2021

assessments to schools and communities. “It’s all about defense and safety which is always fluid to the current trends across the nation. Consider your specific venue”, he said. “The fact that you are just thinking about safety improvements is the step in the right direction”.

Another expert, SERVPRO Co- Owner Mike McGrory, who also owns FOCUS! Safety Training, Inc., agreed, “The two key areas are Situational Awareness and De- Escalation training. Be aware of your surroundings and the changing attitude of a crowd, gathering, conversation and then learn the tools and techniques to either de-escalate the situation or disengage from it safely.”

According to Officer Lee, working with your local law enforcement agency and building partnerships is strongly encouraged. Hiring a risk and safety consultant is another avenue to incorporate all your safety needs particular to your venue. To find an agent in your area

• SERVPRO of Upper Bucks, Germantown, Pennypack / Bustleton

you can visit the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency at:

To create an effective Civil Unrest Plan, or as I call it a “CUP,” communities need to assess their situation, structures, and environment and put a plan of action in writing, in place, and communicate it with all residents. This article will give you the starting tools to invoke thoughts and conversations to get a plan started with your board of directors, regardless of your location. Don’t think that if you’re not in the city that your community is safe from civil emergencies.

First and foremost, if your community does not have a safety committee, create one now. Many times, your own residents can have experience in law enforcement and / or disaster response that you aren’t aware of. Officer Lee suggests, “a best practice would be to review or install safety policies or procedures for your complex. Some examples I have worked with

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