Whether you are the one designing the security plan and writing its procedures, or one of the security personnel responsible for implementing it and maintaining the areas integrity, your main focus should always be performing the tasks that provide the best deterrence and defense against the threats that are truly most likely to disrupt the location being protected.
It’s all too easy to spend so much time focusing on the worst-case scenario that more likely threats are overlooked and vulnerabilities are left open. Sometimes it is possible to be too careful – if super heavy security measures are implemented in order to counter a threat that does not exist, they will have accomplished nothing beyond inconveniencing honest visitors for no gain. However if the threat is real, then not properly preparing for it could be disastrous.
Many security principles are universal – the mere act of displaying that some form of effective protection will deter the vast majority of criminals away in favor of targets that do not seem to be looked after by their owner. In many cases this is all that is needed to ensure complete security. Sometimes it is not. This could be due to the location having something of enough value to be worth attempting to breach security, or environmental factors such as building design and the local crime rate. Finding exactly what makes you vulnerable can be difficult – many factors like lighting levels and even the layout of pathways can have a huge influence on how an intruder will act. Therefore it is always advisable to consult a security professional to determine the best way to defend your property.
A well-designed security operation eliminates any easy approach for an incursion and finds a way to neutralize or minimize any advantage an intruder might be able to find. This cannot be accomplished without everything that may be an influence being accounted for; from nearby traffic patterns to how the building directs the flow of pedestrians. Of course, most important is the operating procedure of security personnel, and how they utilize the tools at their disposal.
A camera is one of the most valuable and proven tools in the security field. But its effectiveness by itself is severely limited. Even if an intruder passes through its sight, the video feed must be actively monitored in order to know that action needs to be taken. But staying focused while looking at video monitors for an extended length of time is not humanly possible; the vast majority of people have the ability to remain consistently attentive enough to notice an out of place threat for only 30 minutes of monitoring a repetitive image before losing focus. In addition, even if images of the intruder are recorded, they will be of little to no value if the intruder has taken steps to hide his identity, and the damage will have been done.
This is one example of how considerations must be made to merge all security measures into a unified plan, with all elements being coordinated to take maximum advantage of their security benefits while working together to overcome their weaknesses. Though it has shortcomings on its own, there are many options like multiple monitoring officers, or regular rounds in the threatened areas between periods of studying video feeds that make up for them.
Security is not just a state of protection, it is also a feeling. Security theater is a term sometimes used to dismiss some highly visible security procedures as countermeasures that improve the image or feeling of security, without actually achieving it. While security cannot be completely effective without being prepared to counter a threat, the need to announce that your business is not vulnerable should not be overlooked.
Employees work better when they feel safe. But security theater is not just an act for the benefit of the peace of mind of employees and customers. The same acts of security presenting itself are also seen by potential criminals. While copying down someone’s ID information will not be of much help in identification if it is a fake, but will implant the knowledge that some form of security monitoring is in place, along with the possibility that any number of other measures of defense have been taken.
The most valuable contribution that security makes is not defense, but deterrence. Although preparation for responding to an actual intrusion should never be neglected, the end result will always be better if an incident is stopped before it happens. The best way to do that is to make sure the presence of some security measures is broadcast to those who may see the location as a target.
Essential to the success of a protection operation is a clear understanding of what actually threatens a property. A retail store, off-shift factory, and a high security facility will all have vastly different, but equally valid security needs. They have different assets that need protection, and different means of intrusion would be used to get to them. Implementing a security plan designed for a different type of property can be highly ineffective.
To ensure that the security plan is both reliable and flexible, and also practical enough to be effective, the property itself should be visited and explored during the plan’s creation. Consultation can be done with officers who have protected that or similar sites, and previous break-ins or incidents at similar environments reviewed. The plan should be a living document that both the security provider and client requesting the service are open to the possibility of modifying if the operational situation changes.
When there is a full comprehension of the environment and risks that it faces, a complete operation can be realized. Putting together deterrent factors, depth defenses with delay barriers, and reaction protocols help to make a property as secure as possible.
Technology is continuously improving the nature of security systems, and making it harder to enter an unauthorized area, or at least very difficult to do so without being identified. There are even some security operations that rely entirely on machines with no human involvement. This can be an ideal solution for some properties, but in many cases securing the post will demand skills that a machine can never possess.
The primary goal of all security systems is to deter an intrusion before it happens. While all visible security measures have a deterrence factor, no fully automated system can be as effective as an active authority figure on site, capable of making what they judge to be the best possible reaction to any incident with no delay while the automated systems contact police or the property owner. Security personnel are often required to interact with workers and visitors, which has many benefits including fostering the feeling of being protected.
Many times a security officer will need to mediate on events, or make other judgment calls, for example determining that someone is too intoxicated to be allowed to enter an event. The value perhaps proves itself most when an incident does occur, and the security officer immediately becomes the first eyewitness. A human can always put more detail and more relevant facts in their reports, and cover the gaps such as sound or the area outside a camera’s field of view. A video recording of an incident backed with a report offers an unparalleled illustration on what the facts of the situation were. If only one of those assets is available, determining the full details of the incident can be much more difficult, if not impossible.
A live human being visible across the property, with the ability to react dynamically to any situation provides a deterrence factor that is unparalleled. However, the effectiveness of that human can be greatly increased when augmented with technology. Probably the most common example is the use of cameras to allow the security officer to secure more areas than he is physically in, and add deterrence by showing an area is always under surveillance.
Cameras are one of the oldest tools in security, but relatively recent improvements are making them easier, cheaper, and more effective than ever. Even the cameras contained in most cellphones today have vastly superior resolution and night vision capabilities than was possible just a few years ago. Standalone security cameras take these improvements even further, with new technology such as facial recognition, digital storage, and movement tracking systems becoming mainstream.
The value of these systems is not debatable. In Detroit, many businesses have adopted highly visible cameras, with a bright green light leaving no doubt that the cameras are recording. The drop in crimes such as carjackings, and even homicides in the affected areas has been so pronounced that soon all business open late at night will be required to have the cameras installed. The games in Korea are making use of over a thousand cameras that even have X-Rays built in, in order to search cars and bags for hidden persons or firearms. While the innovations make for a more secure environment, the basic principle that a person will be reluctant to commit a crime when he knows he is being watched has been true since the first crimes were committed.
Every position that a security officer is assigned to has a set of post orders. Essentially a form of job description, post orders list everything that the officer is supposed to accomplish on his shift.
Post orders do more than just tell the guard what to do. They detail the policies of the enterprise that is being protected. The most effective sets will be joint creations, starting with what the client wants to be accomplished, incorporated in the manner the security professionals determine will be most effective, followed by a final review by the client.
Post orders are the groundwork for a security plan. They allow new officers to be familiarized with a position quickly, and ensure that the security officer is correctly implementing the protection measures that are specific to that location. Post orders for a position covering a hotel may contain detailed instructions on how to respond to guests or treat incoming packages, whereas an officer working at a parking lot may have guides on how to record vehicle information or remove a wrongly parked car, and these instructions would be of no value to the other position.
There is a popular perception that when the weather becomes colder and winter conditions take hold that less crime is committed, and that the community is generally safer. This is true, in that sometimes statistics imply that less total crimes are reported over freezing days. However, it is a critical miscalculation to interpret that to mean all crimes see a universal drop without considering how the weather affects specific types of crime.
Warmer days see a higher number of spontaneous crimes, especially passion crimes and violence in crowds. In colder weather, people in general spend less time outside or at events, meaning there are fewer opportunities for these types of crimes to occur. Calculated crimes can see very different behavior patterns. Burglary and property theft frequently see higher rates of crime in lower temperatures, in particular in businesses that need to shut down during days they would normally work. Often snow days with low crime rates will see a large increase when the temperature rises, showing that the cold will only delay and not deter a determined criminal.
Climate shapes how people live. However, it is arguable that many of the effects on crime are due more to the changing habits of the population as opposed to the temperature itself. Auto theft spikes as millions of cars are left running unattended while they warm up. Higher unemployment rates, fewer witnesses, and hours of extra darkness all assist in making the determined criminal’s task easier. Weather does not prevent crime, any more than it causes it, and cutting corners in protection only ensures you are at your most vulnerable.
Possibly the most well known of the tasks usually given to a security officer, and probably the most important of them, is the task of entry control, that of only allowing access by authorized personnel and keeping the property perimeter secure. Frequently not given the same consideration are the many duties and difficulties faced once the property is occupied, in this case that of exit control.
Safety codes usually require that exits are always open. This is contrary to proper security design; material taken through open fire exits can create massive losses. There are a few solutions that have been used to solve this issue. Some are hardware based, such as a panic button to lock the doors down for only enough time to fix the situation, keeping the doors open and thus in compliance most of the time. That however provides no security if the act is not caught as it happens.
Some solutions are more concrete, for example in the retail and restaurant businesses, alarms are sometimes attached and set off any time an exit-only door is opened. In many scenarios, such as high rises and secure office buildings, there may be no alternative to make sure the exit is unused than to have the exit screened at all times. Though the methods and approaches may vary, there is always a strategy to remove any bypass to the security system.