Summer vacations are on everyone’s minds, but one vacation you don’t want to take is a vacation from plant security. Animal rights activists don’t take a break from activism, so plants shouldn’t take a break from security.   

Groups such as Direct Action Everywhere and the Animal Save Movement are known for holding protests and vigils in various locations, including outside of processing plants. The Save Movement tries to stop drivers so they can “bear witness” to the animals before going to slaughter. This is potentially dangerous for drivers, the animals, the protesters and a company’s reputation.

Here are some security tips you can start implementing at your plant today:

• Establish check-in procedures for visitors at your plant and ensure all employees and family members know the steps to follow if a visitor shows up. Escort visitors at all times. 

• Maintain basic security: Lock offices and cabinets; have proper lighting, alarms and cameras; and post signs for restricted areas and no trespassing. 

• If there is a protest at your plant, do not engage protestors and remain calm. Call your local law enforcement to manage the situation.

• Form a relationship with local law enforcement. The first time you talk with them shouldn’t be during a crisis. 

• Thoroughly screen all job applicants by verifying past employment, conducting background checks and confirming they are not a known activist. One resource is the Farm Security Mobile App. Contact the alliance for more information about the app. 

• Monitor social media to stay informed on where the next protest might be.

• Develop a crisis communication action plan. 

Plant security starts with your employees. Everyone on your team should be prepared to handle an activist situation. Whether it is a protest outside your plant, someone trespassing, an angry individual in your lobby or a group of activists attacking your reputation on social media, everyone from your receptionist to your CEO has a role to play.

Social media allows crises to jump state lines in a second. In almost every case, the activists are livestreaming the protest or interaction with your employees on Facebook. Depending on how your employees handle the situation, your company name could just be talked about among a few activists or end up tarnished on the nightly news. 

Your employees can be your biggest advocates, so ensuring they understand and believe in your mission can help you protect the integrity of your business. Consider holding monthly security workshops for your employees if you aren’t already. This can keep security top of mind and serve as a reminder for everyone to stay vigilant. 

Community members can also help you during a crisis. If your plant does become the target of the next activist protest, you don’t want it to be the first time your neighbors are hearing about you. Frequent engagement with your neighbors can ensure they accept your plant as a part of their community and won’t fall for misinformation from activists wanting to put you out of business. NP