Felix Nater, President of Nater Associates, Ltd., a security consulting practice in Elmont, New York, has over 30 years of investigative, managerial and security experience as a United States Postal Inspector and Postal Police Officer, including eight years of experience in Workplace Violence Interdiction. In this interview, Nater explains how effective security programs and workplace violence prevention plans can benefit companies’ safety, health and environmental practices and ultimately their return on investment.
Please provide a brief description of Nater Associates, Ltd. and of your responsibilities as President of this security consulting practice.
Nater Associates, Ltd. is a security management consulting practice that specializes in workplace security and workplace violence prevention. Our practice brings a common-sense approach to workplace security at facilities, plants, hospitals, schools and colleges and to facility, safety and human resources managers and attorneys by incorporating the client into the process.
We conduct threat assessments, security audits and surveys, and we evaluate, implement and provide guidance based on a firm’s unique security needs. We also offer Third-Party Internal Investigation and litigation support in conjunction with ongoing workplace incidents, serve as an expert witness or outsource security advisor, and last but not least, lecture and give presentations on security and workplace violence prevention.
You help your clients to implement workplace violence prevention plans and general security programs into their businesses. How do you promote the value of return on investment (ROI) to your clients with respect to security?
Clients are encouraged to implement a unique security policy and program that satisfies their particular situation. Merely employing a practical approach reduces costly investment in the aftermath of an incident or in a mandated alteration to the workplace after a lawsuit. Clients who implement some type of security awareness training establish parameters that show they care. Morale then increases, production and efficiency improve and labor grievances decrease, which all foster a supportive working environment. The public image of a client’s business is also enhanced based on the proactive and preventive measures taken to reduce a threat, contain an incident and to respond appropriately.
For more than 30 years, you worked as a United States Postal Inspector and as a Postal Police Officer. How does the investigative, managerial and security experience you gained in those positions help you to develop security solutions for your clients? Do you feel that your background puts you at an advantage when it comes to accommodating your clients’ specific needs?
My diverse background and assignments have definitely helped me to better understand my clients’ needs and unique circumstances. While working as a Postal Inspector, Program Manager and Postal Police Officer, my clients and customers, in addition to the postal community, included the entire constituent of the postal service along with the agencies and organizations. I interacted with senior postal officials and local leaders regularly.
Over time, clients received the benefit of my vast exposure to all levels of government, corporate America, the criminal justice system, judges, commissioners and local, state and federal officials. My familiarity with the system has afforded me an enviable and untraditional skills set. I led task force operations around the country, headed media relations for the Universal International Union of Postmasters and negotiated the design and implementation of a language-testing program that saved the Postal Inspectors thousands of dollars in research and development costs. Therefore, my familiarity with the business community and with the art of negotiation and presentation puts me in a unique position to help clients work through their challenges in all settings.
You have extensive experience in workplace violence interdiction. What methods do you use to assess your clients’ risk of encountering violent incidents or terrorist acts in their workplaces?
As I acquired experience in workplace violence prevention, I developed the strategy and tactics behind my Interdiction Methodology, which includes leadership principles to encourage greater involvement by all employee groups and leaders. The process aggressively integrates clients’ resources in a collaborative environment to identify potential threats and to determine risk abatement measures by marshalling resources.
The process also calls for the use of Threat Assessment Measures to evaluate and defuse potential threats, recommend restructure to the workplace, alter working conditions, train employees and leaders and recommend risk mitigation countermeasures to protect employees from the escalation and spread of threatening behavior.
In incidents involving non-employees who harassed or assaulted postal employees, we collaborate our law enforcement resources with local police departments, visited with community groups and give security awareness briefings to teach employees, unions and civilian organizations how to reduce the potential of exposure.
Counter-robbery measures are not designed to catch the perpetrator by placing employees in harm’s way. Rather, these measures help to educate employees on the non-threatening steps they should take to avoid antagonizing a robber and mitigating risk. This methodology calls for detection and apprehension based on counter-robbery measures.
How do you believe effective security programs and workplace violence prevention plans can impact safety, health and environmental (SH&E) practices within companies? In what ways do they help to reduce injury and incident rates?
Properly designed, implemented and managed security programs and policies are instruments that are proactive and preventive by design. While their immediate value appears intangible, the value is both measurable and tangible if introduced as part of a security awareness program with supporting programs. If security programs are exercised, management, employees and programs are constantly evaluated against the program’s or policy’s ability to do what it intended. Employees who abide within the expected boundaries reduce their chances of adverse risk and diminish the threat of criminal and violent exposure because of their familiarity with the threat and with the contributing behaviors. They are now more familiar with the contributing factors, and they can take proactive measures to avoid incidents, or they can recommend alternatives that would reduce or mitigate the threat. Such awareness reduces injuries and empowers the employee as part of the solution. The workplace becomes a safer environment when employees are pleased instead of confrontational. This leads to fewer days off, reduced injury compensation claims and a decrease in grievances.
You have successfully implemented a “Plain Talk-Solid Situational Approach Concept” to threat management and conflict resolution. Please further describe this concept and how you apply it to your clients’ security programs.
The “Plain Talk-Solid Situational Approach Concept” espouses methodologies based on case studies to teach proper conduct based on examples. The concept takes past incidents, breaks them down into discussion points and illustrates by example that the contributing factors were apparent. Recognizing the threat allows the victim to take alternative measures. The “plain talk approach” uses scenarios to place employees in the victim and perpetrator roles in clear and uncertain terms. This exposure shows them how incidents, when left uncorrected, contribute to a permissive environment. The “Plain-Talk Solid Situational Approach Concept” is credible and effective.
You train your client’s leadership team in threat assessment and risk management procedures so that they are able to manage their workplaces after you and your company have helped them to develop their security and/or workplace violence prevention plans. How do you train your clients in these procedures, and how does this training initiative affect your clients’ ROI?
The cost savings associated with understanding and implementing threat measurement procedures in the workplace are key to the delivery of my services. Once a client’s leaders see the value of threat assessment, as opposed to making decisions in a vacuum, they can identify the root cause of conditions and of any ensuing problems in a collaborative environment. The ROI is immediate because less time is spent investigating workplace-related incidents, going to the doctor, filing injury compensation forms and monitoring a potentially charged situation. If the leadership is familiar with the threat assessment process, the need for a third-party investigation or assessment is eliminated since the leadership now understands the process and has learned what to do or say. A trained supervisor avoids creating a permissive environment by recognizing contributing factors and by taking appropriate action that can reduce the allegations that contribute to a hostile workplace. The threat assessment team is the client’s ROI measurement because it places employees in a collaborative role to eliminate the problem through intervention or prevention while employing organizational assets.
You are a retired Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Reserves, and you are the current Chairman of the New York City Area Committee for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR) as well as the current President of the Greater New York Statue of Liberty Chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). Do you draw on your military experience when creating programs, policies and training for your clients? Why or why not?
The good fortunes of my valuable experiences have allowed me to look at situations as solutions-based and client-centered. Working in a team environment for so long has permitted me to see the big picture and to work towards resolution. In my field, the need to be quick-minded is an analytical requirement.
My involvement in ESGR has allowed me to see a larger corporate picture by considering the unique circumstances and the adverse impact of personnel shortfalls created during military mobilization.
My military training has taught me to lead by example with the team in mind. My subordinates came from diverse environments and educational backgrounds. Understanding the value of policies and programs in those environments validated their effectiveness and verified that the “Plain Talk-Solid Situational Approach Concept” worked based on my own experiences and lessons learned.
In my roles within those organizations, I learned flexibility, teamwork, analysis, interpretation, decision making, delegation and leadership. All of these skill sets were vital to doing my job and future assignments.
You work with the managers of your clients’ human resources, labor relations, safety and security departments during security consultations. How do you ensure effective coordination among all departments in the development of security and/or workplace violence prevention plans?
Since my Interdiction Methodology calls for collaborative engagement, each department mentioned contributes a part or parts to the overall plan. The validation process requires that they work their part of the plan or policy using a checklist and survey. This approach ensures a successful outcome. By involving the department heads in the process, they own the solution and feel empowered to decide their outcomes based on their specific needs in collaboration with other department leaders.
You believe that security should be a corporate responsibility and not just the business of the security director. How do you help your clients to see this?
I believe that security should be demystified and be a collaborative process and effort. Every leader should own a piece of the security environment relative to his or her work areas. Security should be part of the business matrix, and security directors should structure their contributions based on security needs and business decisions. Security directors alone should not decide on security systems or on measures to procure or employ. Security decisions require input from everyone. If clients do not have a security director, they should hire a Security Advisor on Retainer or consider solutions from other resources.
Felix Nater has more than 30 years of investigative, managerial and security experience as a United States Postal Inspector and Postal Police Officer with eight years devoted to Workplace Violence Interdiction. Nater has spent the last three years growing his security consulting practice, Nater Associates, Ltd., of which he is President.
Nater’s training and experience includes program management at the national and regional levels of the postal service, diversified leadership acquired while serving as a task force leader and program manager and supervisory and managerial experience gained during assignments in the U.S. Army Reserves as a Command Sergeant Major (now retired). He has held offices and titles within numerous organizations, including the Association of the United States Army, the Hispanic Association of Police Command Officers and others. Nater is also a member of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants, the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety and the International Facility Management Association.