Seven Important Facts About Watchlists
1. Your watchlist identifies individuals who will be denied access
As a critical component of your overall security management program, a watchlist is a list of people who you have determined could be a security risk and must be kept out of your facility. There are many reasons why you may wish to deny access to an individual. For example, you will want to include individuals on FBI’s most wanted list, in addition to known sex offenders, students who have been expelled from your school, terminated employees, and others. Creating a watchlist that includes all of these individuals is a vital first step in controlling access to your school or campus.
2. Your watchlist depends on controlled entry points
Before you can deny entry to the individuals on your watchlist, you must minimize and secure your entry points. This way, every person who attempts to enter will have to pass through your visitor management or access control system. It is beneficial for an educational facility, hospital, or any large gathering place to reduce the number of potential entry points to as few as possible. This makes access easier to manage, saves costs and helps to ensure that every person attempting to enter will be properly screened for entry permission. If they are identified at that point as being on your watchlist, they can be denied entry.
3. Your watchlist requires more information than just names and photos
Denying entry to a person being screened can be highly sensitive. The staff member who is doing the screening needs to have as much information as possible in order to handle this situation. They need to know if they are dealing with a sexual predator, a disgruntled parent or an expelled student. If the person is a terminated employee who has been shown to be violent, they need to know this as well. Each of these possible scenarios requires a different action to be taken; responding in an inappropriate way can greatly increase the potential risk and threat to your school. For the same reason, it is important to be sure the person doing the screening has been well-trained in how to respond in each situation and the visitor management system you are utilizing provides the reason the person was entered on the watchlist in the first place.
4. Your watchlist must be up-to-date
The information contained in your watchlist can change – not only from day to day, but also from hour to hour, or even faster. If a watchlist is not kept updated and active at all times, it could be possible for a dangerous individual to enter your facility or campus and endanger students, staff and visitors. Any static list will quickly go out of date – not only personal information such as names and history, but also photos must be updated on a continual basis. If ever a watchlist user encounters an individual on the list with a non-matching photo, they will need to know how to rapidly ask for backup. For these reasons, it is crucial to be sure all users know that watchlists should never be printed unless it is for immediate use, after which the document is destroyed, since the very second it is printed it is out of date. The ideal solution for keeping your watchlists up to date is to utilize a mobile, virtual, cloud-based Visitor Management System which enables authorized personnel to add, change or delete information immediately when necessary from wherever they are located.
5. Your watchlist needs a silent alarm
When a potentially violent individual attempting to enter your facility is identified by the watchlist, it is critically important to initiate a response that does not increase the potential for harm. A silent alarm notifies your team as well as law enforcement authorities that there is an emergency, without alerting the perpetrator as well. Giving a violent person notice that they have been identified could easily cause what would otherwise be a manageable incident to escalate unnecessarily.
6. Your watchlist is one element of your full security program
A well-maintained watchlist is a key part of your security plan, as it helps ensure that your staff can prevent any known threat from entering your facilities. However, in order for your watchlist to support this objective, you must have an overall security plan that addresses all possible situations. Make sure the watchlist is kept updated and is immediately available to all stakeholders. Ideally it should be accessible via mobile devices as well. It is also vital that your staff is fully trained in using the watchlist in all potential situations.
7. Your watchlist should be on a flexible platform
Choosing the right platform is an important first step in securing your school or campus. The best solution for watchlists enables you to create your own, proprietary watchlists and to import watchlists from publicly-available lists of verified criminals. It also allows you to designate why someone has been placed on the list, and instantly share updates with all stakeholders across all locations. Ideally, your watchlist solution will be equipped with an automated silent alarm that instantly notifies administrators and/or security staff whenever a visitor is matched with a watchlist entry, via text, email, mobile push notifications and web push notifications. The recipients of these notifications should also be able to communicate back to the sender as well. By providing all of this, your watchlist solution will help you mitigate potentially violent incidents while maintaining the safest possible learning and working environment.
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