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The Key to a Successful Security Program

February 8, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Security programs have many components, each important in it’s own way.  Companies invest big bucks for the latest technology or headhunt all over the country for the best management available in their quest for safety and security for their staff, assets and facilities. The one component which tends to get the least attention, and which ultimately makes all other investments moot, is the men and women wearing the uniform.

The people you hire to watch the monitors, patrol the facility, man entry points and interact with staff and guests will make or break your security operation.  How well they do the job assigned is directly related to the attitude they bring, and the attitude they project.

It has been said that physical security is all about perception.  The more professional the program looks, the greater the perception is of it’s compentence and effectiveness. Which would the casual observer consider to be the most secure – A facility surrounded by thick, 10 foot high concrete walls and CCTV cameras or a child’s lemonade stand on the corner? Yes, an extreme example, but you get the point. As absurd as the example may seem, let’s take another, closer look.

That 10 foot high wall also has a wide gate, which is habitually left open. If you look closely at the CCTV cameras, you’ll notice that most have wires hanging down, not even connected. Take another look at the lemonade stand. That little kid has her big brother, the high school wrestling champ, sitting there with her.  Nobody’s gonna mess with little sis as long as he’s there.

Now, which appears to be the most secure? It’s all about perception. Details may not be as apparent to a casual observer. But then, we aren’t protecting the company’s assets and staff against the casual observer are we? The ones we protect against ARE paying attention to the details. It is their perception of how secure the facility is that’s important, not our own.

Ultimately, it is the security staff that makes the difference between a facility that is secure and one that is easily exploited. Who do you have working for you – guards or officers? There is a difference.. a very big and important difference.

Ask the average person to describe a “security guard”.  More likely than not, the description will sound like some slob sitting at a desk, sipping coffee, shirt stained on the front from a poorly executed lunch maneuver. Perhaps a description of some guy sitting on a bulldozer overnight on a construction site, nodding off halfway through a shift. All too often, they may refer to the type of personalities referred to in (and out of) the security business as “rent-a-cops”.

If you want a successful security program, job number one is to get rid of the derogatory term “guards” and replace it with “officers”. Stop referring to your security staff as guards. That’s what they do, not who they are.  Its the same as calling Gordon Ramsey a cook, instead of a chef. The term “officer” imparts a perception of a professional. Not only does it improve the perception of those you serve, it also improves the perception of the staff as well.

When hiring staff, look for the professional attitudes you wish to project. Ask about the applicant’s view of the security profession-  are they just looking for a job, or genuinely interested in a career? How did they dress for the interview? Your first impression of them is the same impression others will have when they are on the job. The impression they have on those whom they encounter on the job will be the perception imparted on your organization, and your operations as a whole.

Job number two – once you have put together a team of professional officers, train them to do their job. Once they know and understand their job, keep training them until they know every job in your department. Not only does that provide flexibility with scheduling, it also provides a greater understanding of how the different elements of your operation work together. Exposing your officers to the different types of security elements – communications, foot patrols, mobile patrols, gates or other fixed posts – the officer gains understanding of the variety of disciplines and career paths available in the security profession. Encourage and support additional training opportunities as they become available. This not only enriches the officer’s skills on a personal level, it also strengthens your organization as a whole.

With more than two decades of hands-on experience in the security and safety professions, Central Florida Safety Academy is equipped to assist your company review, revise or create an effective loss control program, conduct threat and hazard inspections or plan for emergencies. Contact us today for more information.

-Ed Sterrett
Central Florida Safety Academy

Categories: Security
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