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Part 1 – Physical Security: Low Tech & A Lost Child

When three of my boys were little, one of them disappeared in Walmart. The first feeling is pure terror. Then my stomach was in my throat. In parallel I knew I had to act! I knew I had to find him. And I knew that I’d be dependent on Walmart’s physical security to find him.

I knew how fast my 21/2 year old son was. I ran to the front of the store with my newborn and my 7 year old in tow. The Walmart employee at the desk asked me for details about my son. He then called a code through walkie-talkies to all the employees. 

Anxiety vs. Relief

I was amazed and relieved when I quickly heard over the radio that he had been found! The staff were on their way to the front desk. If you have kids of your own or kids that you love, you can well imagine my relief – and delight! Because right behind the wave of relief that my son was okay and we were going to be reunited in a moment, was a sense of delight at how smooth the process had been. Walmart had a great system in place. Walmart is to be commended for their effective and reproducible action plan. It worked flawlessly. I bought a ‘leash’ for my second son before I left the store.

I do not know the details of their lost child protocol – and I invite Brian Murphy, Walmart’s Chief Security Officer or Odalys S., Walmart’s VP of Global Security, to fill us in. What was amazing was that the process involved and was reliant on the staff and NOT on technology, i.e. physical security’s command & control. I’d love to know the story of how this came into being and if Walmart’s security provider Brosnan, was a part of the solution. 

Physical Security: Good Practices, Good Outcomes

What was immediately clear to me was that Walmart’s physical security was effective in locating my missing son because their response is two-fold. First, they lock everything down: no one can leave. So there’s no way anyone can get out with your kid. Secondly Walmart doesn’t depend on the fractured images in the control room: they depend instead on their associates. The communication system is effective and everyone who works at Walmart is part of the solution. It is very impressive. 

Almost a decade later my 5 year old daughter disappeared in a New York hotel and my experience was completely different. Security was unable to help me. My expectations were very high and after the remarkable experience at Walmart, I expected even greater sophistication in physical security and at least equal swiftness from a leading hotel chain. After all, they undoubtedly had invested heavily in their security system and a missing child was probably not an unusual event. It was a stunning and upsetting story.

Thank you Walmart!

I praise Walmart for their protocol and for safeguarding our children. Security at it’s finest. I bought a leash for my runaway before leaving Walmart and kept him safe for the rest of his childhood.

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