It’s become a sad, troubling new reality. With increasing frequency, individuals intent on carrying out murderous rampages have turned to common vehicles as their primary weapon, capable of killing scores of civilians in a short window of time.

These assaults – dubbed vehicle ramming attacks – have been on the rise worldwide. It is not difficult to see why. They are inexpensive, effective and easy to facilitate. No special training or set of specialized skills is required.

The attackers, including lone-wolf ISIS sympathizers, have used personal, stolen and rental vehicles to conduct these vicious acts. In some cases, they have been premeditated. In others, the signs pointed to a spontaneous attack. Regardless, the amount of damage these attacks can inflict – and perpetual state of fear they can sow in the public – is immense.

A Persistent, Growing Threat

According to Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst, as of August 18, 2017, at least 129 people had been killed in vehicle ramming attacks since 2014. Since that marking point, the death totals have only continued to climb. This past Halloween, for example, eight lives were lost in the Manhattan bike lane attack. Overall, since 2014, there have been 14 known vehicle ramming attacks.

With no end in sight for this brazen new style of attack, Corporate Security departments worldwide have no choice but to adapt. Simply put, any area where groups of people may congregate near a vehicular path is at risk.

CPTED: Evolving a Trusted Concept

To adapt to this new threat landscape, security professionals have begun embracing a promising new approach: Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED. The goal? To mitigate – and potentially even prevent altogether – destructive acts of targeted violence by implementing specific, proven design concepts into a common, publically accessed area.

All of us have seen CPTED concepts in action, whether we realize it or not. I’ll give you three examples:

  1. A continuous, solid row of bushes, maybe 4 to 6 feet tall, that defines the property line of a campus, business or residence. This type of visual barrier or boundary helps make it clear to the general public that private property lies on the other side. It also provides a “soft barricade” against potential intruders.
  2. Large boulders, strategically placed along the perimeter of a property. Much like a row of bushes, a series of boulders can be very effective in delineating property lines. More importantly, boulders can physically deter vehicles from driving deep into a private property or onto a sidewalk, such as with ramming attacks.
  3. Decorative bollards lining the perimeter of a property of walkway. We see these all the time. Many cities place bollards along sidewalks or perimeters of corporate buildings. Decorative bollards are commonly used barriers for stadiums as well. As with large boulders, they too can provide the mass necessary to prevent vehicles of a certain height, weight, size and speed from passing through and potentially causing severe damage to people and property.

As you can see, CPTED concepts are all around us, helping to improve security in a way that blends into the environment seamlessly. What the spate of vehicle ramming attacks has done is draw much-needed attention to the value of CPTED – and the clear need to evolve this time-tested approach.

Investing in the Proper Safety Measures

The New York Times recently reported that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is adding 1,500 new metal bollards to counter vehicle ramming attacks. In fact, NYC is investing $50 million to secure some of the most visited, high-risk public spaces against such attacks. These measures will protect people and property while allowing pedestrians to move freely around the city.

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that almost 800 steel bollards have been strategically placed along the Las Vegas Strip in an effort to increase pedestrian safety. These particularly strong bollards are rated to withstand head-on collisions from a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling at 50 miles per hour. Clark County plans to install 7,500 bollards this year along the Vegas Strip between Sahara Avenue and the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

Corporate Security Can Lead the Way

For corporations, providing a safe environment for employees and guests is sacrosanct. Perimeter security, as seen in the growing number of deadly vehicle ramming attacks throughout the world, has become an increasingly critical component of that responsibility. That is why Corporate Security professionals are uniquely qualified and positioned to leverage CPTED concepts against the threat of vehicle ramming attacks. They have a deep level of knowledge of perimeter strengths and vulnerabilities, and which assets on the premises are the most critical.

To protect those assets against vehicle ramming attacks, Corporate Security can leverage many different types of CPTED methods. But it starts with recognizing that the right level of protection is required to ensure true physical security.

Security Risk Management Experts Can Help

CPTED is not only about the materials used. Placement, installation, cosmetics and the fortitude the materials provide are all vitally important aspects to consider when developing security measures against the threat of vehicle ramming attacks.

This is where a CPTED professional can make a tremendous difference.

With a proactive framework in mind, Corporate Security can work hand-in-hand with a security risk management firm, one that is staffed with professionals who have the experience and expertise to provide a vast array of concepts and tactics. Doing so can greatly help your organization meet the criteria, guidelines, ordinances and other challenges related to perimeter security.

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