Portland Security Concerns
I stepped off the plane in Portland and was immediately reminded that the climate wasn’t much different than Michigan; wet. I was just there a week or so prior performing threat management security for another client.
The job was a managed termination, and the client had security concerns over an employee they wanted to terminate. My partner and I were called in to provide security and make sure the termination didn’t go south. If it did, we were there to deal with him.
The termination went very smoothly, and after a few standard days of protective surveillance it was determined that the subject was not likely to be a security threat.
On the night before I left town, I had a meeting over Sushi (a favorite when on the coast) with the Project Manager of the job I was in town for now.
I had worked for the company many times before and they wanted me to come back in a week to coordinate evidence for a potential labor strike they were on security standby for. I was now back in Portland to take that position.
Between working 12 hour shifts in the security command center, I was able to get out a little bit and sample some of the local culture. One of the first things I noticed was that many people seemed to carry a backpack everywhere. I found this worth noting from a security standpoint.
Given the number of special events and protests in the area, my background in providing security for numerous venues came back to me and I found myself thinking about all of the potential security issues involved with so many people carrying a backpacks. I thought to myself that the police and private security professionals must have their hands full.
Backpacks are a security concern because they can be used to carry and smuggle all kinds of illicit and dangerous items into venues. Among the illicit items that came to mind were drugs and alcohol, which are particularly rampant in Portland for a variety of reasons.
The primary security concern over drugs and alcohol is that abuse can turn an ordinarily peaceful person or protester into someone who is dangerous and looking for a fight.
Most of the time that fight will end up being with security or law enforcement. Additionally, if someone is dealing at then venue it needs to be shut down because they are multiplying the problem.
Another security concern is the smuggling of weapons in backpacks. As one might imagine, the options of weapons that can be transported are nearly limitless. Depending on the size of the backpack, multiple clubs, knives, handguns, and even short barreled rifles can easily be carried.
Although an extreme example, an individual or group looking for trouble could really cause some damage with a backpack full of weapons.
If you combine someone looking for trouble, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and with a weapon(s), you have a recipe for a bad day for security and law enforcement professionals.
Not to say that everyone with a backpack is a criminal by any means. I just found it worth noting from a security standpoint that so many people were carrying them in Portland.
It is definitely a local situation that security and police professionals would need to adapt to.