When security does its job well, there are few incidents, but deterrence is difficult to quantify. Having a visible security presence and metal detectors in a lobby might convince potentially ill-intentioned individuals to move along, but prevention doesn’t make headlines.
Proactive security practices are not necessarily the norm, but they should be. Most security programs react after something has happened. They focus on having the fastest response to an incident—as with an alarm system, for example—instead of mitigating potential threats. Through constant vigilance and refinement, an effective security program minimizes incidents that require a response.
Three Basic Security Elements
To start, let’s discuss the elements of an effective security program and how they work together.
- Human element. Humans—both security personnel and community members—are the true source of vigilance. Whether they’re checking badges and paperwork, monitoring cameras, or simply going about their day, people notice things and act on, or report, them. For facilities with Security Operations Centers (SOCs), security personnel monitor not only alarms and cameras, but also news and weather events in the area. If an organization happens to be targeted by activist groups, officers can track social media chatter for potential protests.
- Physical element. This element encompasses the physical environment and how it can be used and modified to bolster security, such as installing large planters to create physical barriers in front of buildings. This includes the underlying landscape, neighboring locations, parking lots, the design of entrances, exits, elevators, loading docks, interior and exterior doors, the design and location of guard booths, turnstiles, even blast- and storm-repellent windows. A tree that sprouted ten years ago or a neighbor’s stack of pallets might be tall enough for someone to climb the fence and gain easy access to your property. Every physical aspect of a site presents opportunities to enhance security.
- Technical element. These tools help personnel perform their jobs, including cameras, motion detectors, fire and burglar alarms, and card readers. The tools, however, don’t have to be high-tech. Even something as simple as adding floodlights with motion detectors to dark or remote areas or a better-designed guard booth—with bigger windows, for example, or a red interior light that allows officers to read paperwork inside and see outside at the same time—can make a difference.
Three Pillars of a Proactive Security Program
A proactive security program focuses on the human element above.
- Security personnel must be trained at every level, from officers to managers. Officers need to know how to use their tools, what to watch for, how to respond, and how to report. Supervisors need to be able to manage their officers and portfolios in ways that build a sense of community between officers and clients. Managers must be able to recognize patterns and deficiencies, and then communicate recommendations to the client.
- Education. This pillar extends beyond security services to encompass organizational personnel as well. Employees should be brought into the loop with the attitude of “If you see something, say something. We’re in this together.” Examples include lunchtime security/safety presentations, active-shooter response and drills, emergency preparedness training, and reminders not to prop open doors when stepping out “for a minute.”
- The above pillars are geared to increase awareness. Security personnel should be trained to be aware of their surroundings, how to spot people or objects out of place, how to investigate without being confrontational, and whom to call with questions or in case of an incident. Employees need to be aware of things like exit routes and interior shelter/safe rooms or stairwells in case of severe weather.
Two-Way Communication Is Critical
With these elements and practices in place, the oil that keeps the machine running smoothly is open lines of communication at all levels.
If an officer sees something, or a supervisor spots a potential problem area, they know whom to notify. Managers must communicate with the client on a regular basis. And all this communication must be two-way. If a client sees a deficiency, they raise a flag to the security company. This communication should happen any time a potential problem is spotted, not only after a problem has arisen.
What Proactive Security Looks Like in Real Life
These practices are not theoretical; they have real-world results. Consider the following examples.
- A particular industrial area had been experiencing a rash of break-ins. One night, a guard noticed a car driving by without its lights on, which looked suspicious. She witnessed four men pry open a gate and crawl under the fence where there was a dip in the landscape and the gate didn’t align correctly when closed. The officer contacted authorities, who arrived in time to scare away the perpetrators. This example thus far illustrates reactive The proactive side of this incident involves sharing the officer’s observations—the details of exactly how the gate and fence were breached—with the client, as well as with other facilities in the area. The client modified the gate to correct the vulnerabilities and added additional security personnel to enhance security.
- A loading dock’s approach street was on a side road with no streetlights. As trucks came in at night, guards in the booth couldn’t see pedestrians or vehicles until they appeared at the gate. Adding a simple floodlight to the booth gave officers greater visibility to observe the trucks, pedestrians, and the surrounding area.
- An account manager used data analytics to maximize the efficiency of manpower for an organization with multiple sites. In reviewing weekly reports, he saw that some of the busiest sites had fewer security personnel than facilities with less traffic. Across the system, he asked officers to track the number of vehicles, employees, and visitors at each checkpoint per hour over a 24-hour period on three days—Monday, Wednesday and Friday—in a single week. Then, he averaged and plotted this information, along with the number of officers on duty each hour, and used his findings to recommend the allocation of security resources to the client.
- At a large, industrial location encompassing over a hundred acres and five security posts, the recommendation was made to institute a roving officer in a vehicle patrol over the midnight shift and on weekends. One night, shortly after adding this patrol, an unmanned, swipe-card gate was hit by a vehicle and stuck in the open position. The roving officer discovered the damaged gate and monitored it for several hours until the facility could repair the gate. Having an unmanned, open gate could certainly have given unwanted access to the property.
Practices like those above are the foundation of a proactive security program.
Sunstates Security implements proactive security programs with the ultimate goal of minimizing the potential for, and number of, unwanted incidents. We use these practices to continuously refine operations and provide customers with the best possible service and return on their investment.
To discuss the benefits of our approach, or to review your current security needs, please call Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or contact us.