Since the wave of social and political unrest in 2020, companies operating in the United States have encountered a complex security environment. As the 2024 election nears, the country faces escalating threats of protest activity, extremism and domestic terrorism driven by increasing polarization and discontent. Law enforcement agencies are preparing for a surge in protests, potential election-related violence, and the spread of extremist ideologies, making the task of corporate security teams increasingly daunting.

Security professionals learned through the 2020 election cycle why protests in the US are a particular cause for concern. First, many organizations were caught by surprise. Often organized via social media, these demonstrations tended to occur quite rapidly, leaving corporate security departments with limited time to prepare on-the-ground support. Second, law enforcement was relatively unsuccessful in containing the demonstrations and avoiding spill-over violence—raising questions about agencies’ capability and capacity. Many police departments cancelled their officers’ time off and requested additional assistance from other agencies, including the National Guard. And third, after years of globalization efforts and international focus, many private-sector security professionals did not have the necessary experience or resources to provide crisis and security support in the US.  

With social unrest growing across the United States and internationally, and law enforcement resources already stretched to their limits, clients turned to Control Risks for rapid security support during the 2020 US election season. One of these clients was a large news media organization that had concerns about the well-being of their employees, primarily camera crews, in several cities in the midwestern US. Their concern was well-founded, given rising anti-press sentiment in the country and documented attacks on news crews and journalists. The client requested immediate support for their employees who were on the ground covering protests in several cities.  

Control Risks supplied our client with security staff, tasked with providing support and oversight for the camera crews during field work. Each camera crew was backed by a two-person team. The teams faced many difficulties, including police roadblocks and curfews, nighttime shifts with limited visibility, rapidly evolving and deteriorating security environments, and highly visible news crews that attracted attention. These factors were made more challenging due to the COVID-19-related restrictions and social distancing guidelines at the time.  

Despite these significant challenges, Control Risks’ security teams successfully provided operational security to the news crews by combining threat intelligence feeds and covert security practices. Soon enough, many other clients requested additional assistance from Control Risks, including support around security, crisis management and surge analytical and threat intelligence.  

As we look ahead to the 2024 rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, amid ongoing protest activity and heightened tensions on hot-button social and political issues, it is apparent that unrest and political violence will continue to be a growing concern.  

Organizations operating in the US and the security professionals tasked with protecting them need to prepare accordingly. This includes revising crisis management plans that focus on flexibility and agility, emphasizing impact-based responses over detailed playbooks, and ensuring that surge capacity—including licensed and vetted security agents—is immediately available to provide comprehensive security support. 


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