1652321816273 B 1209 Sb Safety

Getting the Most from Security Personnel

Nov. 19, 2009

Innovative training and use of technology can help ensure that your security personnel are not the weakest link in your security system

Tremendous improvements in the last 20 years have occurred in both the quality of security equipment and its software with the introduction of user-friendly interfaces and quality analytics. Where little or no improvement has been made is in getting better utility and productivity from the security guard on duty.

Functionally, the exchange of information is important in having a security team that operates smoothly, and security guards must be aware of all available information. Site orders crafted by the security team and approved by building management represent the policy of how things should be responded to within the building. If a situation arises, you would want the security guard to quote from policy and refer someone to a specific person within your organization. Your experienced day security guard should have no problems finding the policy in the site orders. However, how quickly can your least experienced guard find the same information?

Keep Your Security Plan and Team Up to Date

Every 5 years, you should conduct a thorough security audit and improvement strategy plan. The plan should assess physical changes to your building and the implications they have on your security. Also, the assessment should include tenants and their companies. As an example, the sales office of a pharmaceutical company that uses animals in labs is at risk of being attacked by animal activists, or a family law office could have “hostilities” break out over an acrimonious relationship.

Apathy within the security guards may also be cause for concern. By their actions and body language, the security staff can communicate either a lack of regard or a professional approach for your property. A review of all policies and procedures, or a retraining of all staff, including the most experienced onsite, should be made to ensure that all aspects of your program are current.

Site policies and procedures take a long time to write and are seldom updated unless turnover occurs from one security guard provider to another. Other similar problems include policies that tend to be outdated, telephone numbers that are not up to date, and having several versions of the very important “Needs Assistance” evacuation list in the paper binder when only the most current should be present. This library of instruction needs to exist in an easily referenced, date-stamped folder, accessible to only those authorized to see it. In electronic format, it becomes yet another area in which you can create a huge green impact in the security function. Organized policies and guards well-versed in the policies will also help your security team operate more efficiently and effectively.

The security guards also need the moves, adds, and changes (MACs) that exist in the course of operating a regular commercial property. Is your security guard willing to give access to any stranger who carries a toolbox and is wearing a shirt of a contractor? Hopefully not! The security officer should have written notice indicating that a contractor is coming in, and the contractor should be required to present identification indicating that he is an employee with the contractor and is knowledgeable about how your building operates. Just because he/she may be a skilled tradesperson does not mean he/she will be sensitive to your tenants’ needs for privacy.

Security guards can make innovative use of technology to have an audit trail demonstrating that they have read these MAC instructions, and another electronic audit that cites when the contractors entered the building and what floors they visited, all within the last week, month, and year.

Even with the best systems in the world, turnover of your security staff and contractors will occur. How do you protect the integrity of your program and train your new staff to the highest competency levels in the shortest amount of time? The solution is in owning the data. You can outsource the function of hiring, training, and supervising the front line security guards. You can also outsource the maintenance of the security equipment, but you must store, own, and maintain the data for a period of time that is deemed reasonable. If you hire a security guard service provider, and they bring a front office system similar to what has been described to you, be certain that the data can be accessed even after you have terminated their services years later.

Douglas Macy is vice president of GuardSuite Corp., which is based in Toronto.

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