QUINCY — Two separate forums were held in Quincy this week to help organizations be better prepared for any situations that might come up in an office or at events.
On Wednesday, the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the Great River Economic Development Foundation and the District, hosted an Active Shooter seminar at the Oakley Lindsay Center.
Chamber President Bruce Guthrie said the purpose was to help member organizations be prepared for any eventuality.
"Active shooter situations are happening everywhere around the world," Guthrie said. "We need to bring that training and awareness to our members. So we're trying to be a little proactive."
Emily Lombardi, executive director at the District, said smaller businesses face similar challenges as bigger companies in regards to security, and the District was happy to partner with the Chamber and GREDF.
"We feel that it's imperative to show a united front on providing services to all Quincy-wide businesses," Lombardi said. "The Chamber and GREDF do an incredible job with hosting business seminars that are relevant to our businesses. The District feels that we can extend those beneficial classes to our smaller downtown establishments."
Wednesday's session was led by Quincy Police Chief Adam Yates. It was centered on an instructional program, not physical demonstration. He said QPD has the training available to any organization that might want to learn how to keep their operations and employees safe.
GREDF Executive Director Kyle Moore said the Active Shooter seminar, one of three security presentations planned, was created following suggestions from member organizations on what information would be useful for them.
"It's not a response to anything in particular, it's member-generated on what they see as their needs," he said. "When you see headlines of things going on in other communities, these sessions are just to keep our members informed and try to meet their needs."
In April the Chamber will host a program on cybersecurity.
Thursday morning, Quincy City Hall was the site of a second seminar, this time focused on providing a safe environment when organizations hold public events.
"I come from an event background. I worked for ESPN for 20 years on events like the X-Games, the Espys, National Golf Challenge, so I've always had a sense of event security and safety," Linda Moore said. Moore is the Quincy city treasurer and helped organize the program with support from First Bankers Trust. "After our cybersecurity workshop last fall, we just had a lot of interest, and we thought this would be a next logical step for securing events."
Jana Hattey, First Bankers Trust VP for treasury management, said the previous collaboration with the city led to requests for more assistance.
"The last event on cybersecurity and fraud was a big topic for our business customers," she said. "From that event, we had some demand that we should help leaders in community organizations as well."
The key speaker Thursday was Scott Lyddon. Lyddon is the protective security advisor for the Springfield office of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"Everyone is taking their own security very seriously, and the security of the public," he said. "This is a good way for everyone to get information and be conscious of things that are going on in the world. It's terrific to see all of the public and private engagement on these subjects."
Lyddon said information and resources are available with easy access at cisa.gov.
"It used to be that we hesitated to send people to websites," he said. "The CISA site has been rebuilt to make it incredibly user-friendly, so you don't need to have a tech-guy go look for things for you."
"Security is important," Yates said on Thursday. "The more awareness we can put out there, along with opportunities for people to learn about simple things they can do to keep themselves, their houses, their businesses protected, the better."
Yates said with the growing number of various types of events coming to Quincy, giving organizations the tools to respond immediately to a dangerous situation will make the public feel safer attending events.
"Knowing that entities have thought about security on-site or have an emergency action planned in case something happens, that's always going to bridge the gap between a negative event and police arriving on scene," he said.
Hattey and Linda Moore both said that finding ways to ease pressure on local law enforcement is another benefit of organizations planning for their own security.
"These guys are stretched so thin, anything we can do to help is something we want to do," Hattey said.
"Anything we can do to help keep the public safe, as well as being a support system for the police department who are understaffed, that's always a good thing," Moore said. "Safety and security is a public matter. We have a personal responsibility to help keep ourselves safe, and that extends to public events to help keep each other safe."
Yates said increases in the number of events coming to Quincy haven't been a problem for QPD. He credits a lot of that to the organizers of events.
"For us, it's business as usual," he said. "We don't often see issues with events that come to town. They're usually very well planned, very well executed and very security-minded on issues that might come up."
After Wednesday's seminar, Lombardi summed up that the focus of both days' events was for the community.
"We hope to provide the tools and knowledge to protect your investments and interests in operating a business," she said. "We want to share the resources we have amongst our community and provide educational experiences to anyone that might feel vulnerable in these times. Security is a priority to everyone."
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