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January 12, 2023

Case Study: Threat Risk Assessments at City Hall


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Security is often difficult to demonstrate a return on investment. If we do our job well, bad things don’t happen. So, I thought I’d take a moment to acknowledge the City of Toronto for what I feel was a good use of a threat assessment and implementation of reasonable security measures.

Politicians are being confronted where they work

Last week Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was confronted by a member of the public while visiting Grand Prairie City Hall. See article here

This incident reminded me of the debate around security at Toronto’s city hall a few years ago. Toronto Corporate security and the Corporate Real Estate management team had risk assessments conducted by Toronto Police as well as Public Safety Canada and made recommendations to enhance the security at the site. It was mildly controversial at the time but interesting to look back on in light of this event. See news at the time

Assessing the the threat of grievance based violence

In 2017, one of the identified foreseeable threats in the assessments was Grievance based threats. “Grievance based adversaries can range from disgruntled constituents and groups, disgruntled customers, hate groups, opposition movements, etc. These grievances may be based upon real or perceived decisions, policies, or comments made by City Council, elected officials, or City staff…”

The recommendations to mitigate these threats was to add additional access controls with enhanced screening and metal detectors. While the enhanced measures may not prevent a confrontation (I don’t know what is in place at Grand Prairie), the screening measures in Toronto assist in the early detection of visitors with malicious intent as well as reduce the risk of a threat actor having a weapon or other potentially dangerous item.

Finding the balance between open, inclusive and safe

At the time, I felt this was an appropriate measure to balance the need to maintain access to public spaces while providing security to those that work and visit them. We can discuss if more is needed in the current environment but I give kudos to Toronto for taking the steps they did when they did.

If you would like to better understand if your organization has appropriate security for the most likely threats and risks with recommendations to mitigate any vulnerabilities please don’t hesitate to get in touch for your own Threat Risk Assessments.

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