Dr. Patrick O’Neil, partner at PSA

In this series, we introduce you to the employees at Protective Security Advisors

What do you do for PSA?
I joined in 2017 as a partner. I help to advise PSA and help make decisions as one of their owners. We are growing fast right now and I’m helping to make sure we are investing in the right products for our customers. On the security side, I consult on emergency management and security issues. I lead the technology side – we are developing apps and software to help the security and emergency management industry. I met Tyler while working at the University of Nebraska, we worked on several committees for safety and security and helped the University with risk assessment.

What’s your background?
I served for over 26 years in the United States Navy. I completed seven deployments, including Persian Gulf combat operations in senior operational positions. During my last tour, I was assigned to the Joint Staff National Airborne Operations Center in direct support of Presidential and Secretary of Defense global operations serving as an adviser on national security matters, homeland defense, and emergency response programs dealing with natural disasters, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism.

I also served as the director of the Emergency Management undergraduate and graduate programs in at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I was proud to create those programs.

As far as my education, I got a B.S. Psychology from Washington State University, a M.A in Strategic Studies and National Security from the Naval War College, Newport RI, and a PhD in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

You’re a strong advocate of safe community approaches – tell me more about that.
Sometimes when people hire security, they want to solve one specific problem. For instance, they hire us to keep homeless out of an unoccupied building. This can create a revolving door where we push these people from one place to another – it’s not solving the larger (and much more complex) issue. When we see situations like this, our approach is to create a partnership with the police, politicians, and businesses to collaborate on safe outcomes. A great example of this is how we’ve worked with Siena Francis House. We’ve helped transform thta entire area of the city by working closely with the businesses all around that area.  

What’s a social trend you are seeing that worries you?
As a professional military officer, I think it’s nuts how many people have weapons. Civilians often have a preconceived notion that being armed is going to protect you. They attend a brief training and feel like they the skills they need to handle a weapon. But what’s actually happening is that police officers are being attacked more and more and accidental deaths are on the rise. If people want to protect themselves, I would recommend that they be training on how to recognize potential threats.

What are some of the projects you’re working on for the technology side of the company?
We are developing apps and software to help with security planning and assessment. According to FEMA, 40% of businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster. Of those that are able to continue, 25% will fail within the first year. Our technology is trying to help businesses to put a plan together so they don’t become a statistic. This isn’t a simple task – planning can be complex and implementation is even harder. We are making it as intuitive as possible.

What’s something simple a business can do to prepare for unexpected disaster?
At the very least, inventory your business assets so you have records of what you own and how much everything costs.

What do you think is the most important thing that PSA does?
We are a group of really passionate people. We want to take care of our clients, our employees, and the citizens of Omaha. Sometimes we see some shabby practices in the security industry. Everything we pursue, we do it 100% right and with integrity or we don’t do it at all.

Also, the owners and partners are incredibly diverse with areas of expertise. All of this practical real-world experience means that our customers are getting the most sophisticated solutions.