Doug Elms, a former Little Rock police officer, founded SafeHaven Security Group in 2016.
“I grew up in Little Rock and became a police officer. HBO did a special on Little Rock called “Banging in the Rock” about all the drug trafficking at that time and that’s the time I served as a police officer for ten years,” Elms said.
He then put his skills to work for Walmart for 24 years providing global security. “I helped create their executive protection program and traveled with Helen Walton in the US and internationally.”
Elms also helped create their threat management program which is about workplace violence, prevention and threats to the company. During that time he traveled to more than 60 countries for Walmart.
He retired from Walmart and started SafeHaven Security Group. “SafeHaven is a group of career security professionals. Monte Mills, a senior consultant, was previously with Arvest Bank as the manager of physical security for 18 years. Pat Walsh provided executive protection for Fred Smith at FedEx and then he was the chief security officer for the Stephens Investment Firm in Little Rock.
“We are talking about guys who have decades of experience in law enforcement, security and in corporate security. Our experience in corporate security is what makes a huge difference because we understand how business works.”
“Our approach is to partner with clients,” Elms said.
He described their methods as three big buckets. One is professional uniformed security officers.
“Because honestly, you’ve probably seen security guards in parking lots before and they are not always the kind of guy you put a lot of trust in,” he said. “We approach it differently. We approach it from a corporate standpoint. Security may be the first person your employees or your clients see, and they should represent your brand as much as they represent mine.”
Professional image, interactions and being competent is really a big focus. “Clients love that we provide better than average uniform security.”
The second big bucket is threat assessment management. “That is a lot about preventing workplace violence. We spend a lot of time with HR people, teaching them the warning signs and how violence actually occurs. People don’t just snap and kill 30 people. There are always warning signs. When you know what to look for, you can de-escalate situations.”
After HR people know what to look for, he said they often call and partner with them to access and de-escalate specific situations.
“Coworkers who were fine two years ago but have experienced a deterioration in performance, attitude, marital problems, financial difficulties, problems on the job from all the stress at home — those are problems if people bring them forward you can engage and de-escalate. Twenty years ago, it was sexual harassment. Bullying has been a big deal in the last ten years. Threat assessment will be commonplace in twenty years.”
The third bucket is executive and family protection. “We work with executives and families — not necessarily about bodyguards and ninjis, but what their risks are. We check to see how much information about them and their kids are posted online. Sometimes the wife will post that the husband will be out of town traveling for two weeks. Also if the company is in the middle of a layoff and people are mad. Things like that — we try to openly talk about common sense things like that.”
Elms said they do provide security at some executive homes based on their risks.
“Most national security companies just provide security guards. But these three buckets go back to my time providing corporate security at Walmart. It’s very dynamic. You can’t just have a guard in the parking lot when threats against the CEO have not been addressed. You can’t have guys inside your company who are dissatisfied, having problems that could end up creating workplace violence. It really ties all three together. As we provide all three of those services to clients, it dramatically increases the safety and security of their people.”
Helms said employees feel different about security now. Pay is always a big concern of employees, but second or third they want to know if they work in a safe environment. They see active shooters in the workplace and are happy to see security in the workplace.They are happy to see a patrol car in the parking lot and badges required to get into the building.
“Security is more valuable today. If someone goes to a Razorback game, you don’t mind being screened. Or at the airport, you don’t mind because you know you’ll get to where you are going.”
“People’s mindsets have really changed. It’s much more important.”
SafeHaven Security Group has now expanded outside of Arkansas into Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas with 200 employees.
“In Harrison, Frank Villines had developed a good business for 37 years and he’s retiring from security. He’s keeping the lock and key, and armored car business. So we are managing the security for the more than 30 patrol clients he had. We offer patrols from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.”
Elms said they use technology to make sure the officers check every building. When at that building, sometimes they are asked to perform certain functions — like make sure all the lights are on. They use their smart device to reply, yes doors are locked, lights are on etc. If there is a ‘no’ then they document that for the clients to see the next morning when they arrive at work.
“Because of our knowledge, we just like teaching people how to stay safe. Along with the Chamber of Commerce, the Police and Sheriff’s Departments we are hosting an active shooter workshop at the Quality Inn on Wednesday, Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. until noon. The workshop is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 870-741-2659 to register.”
The points covered in the workshop will be understanding the warning signs, de-escalating them, and ultimately if the situation can’t be de-escalated, how to defend against an active shooter.
To contact SafeHaven Security Group visit safehavensecuritygroup.com or call 844-SecurityGroup.
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