As the science of crime deterrence updates every day, so too do the crime prevention techniques applied to building design and project layout improve. While many of the new design concepts are impossible to apply to an already constructed location, some principles can be implemented anywhere that will both stop crime before it happens and improve the quality of life there.
Most important is that a location must appear to be safe, secure, and maintained to any party that is looking to intrude. Fences and property are a simple way to show that the owner cares about his property’s integrity and are a surprisingly effective deterrent. A site that is well cared for gives an impression of being secure, broken windows and downtrodden areas can give a sense of neglect and vulnerability to a potential intruder.
Good lighting is essential. Pathways and hallways are especially vulnerable due to their frequency of use. Making sure that these areas can be well observed from outside areas significantly reduces any form of risk.
Effective use of signage will keep occupants of a location safe by giving them and understanding of their responsibility in the mutual effort of security, as well as making sure that they understand the characteristics of the environment. A more extensive application of this principle can be applied with an information kiosk, concierge, or well-trained security officer.
Avoid establishing areas where surveillance is impossible. Any place that is isolated from outside observation is the most likely area for an incident to occur. Solutions to consider are adding windows if possible, cameras, or regular patrols inside, depending on the nature of the specific location.
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A barrier is an obstacle that defines the limits to an area and prevents penetration by persons, animals, or vehicles. It can be either natural or artificial, and both types can be incorporated into a security operation.
A basic security concept is to surround your target with multiple barriers, a concept known as defense in depth. This allows for a mixture of deterrent and delay barriers. Perimeter barriers should properly warn an intruder to keep out, either with explicit wording or intuitive design, and thus defeat an intrusion without actually being tested. The explicit display of present security and property demarcation eliminates any chance of accidental intrusion.
Barriers that are meant to function after the perimeter is breached operate differently under the assumption that any intruder past that point has willingly and purposefully ignored deterrent measures. At this point, the purpose switched to delaying the intruder. Any physical barrier can be surpassed with enough effort and time, therefore the design logic should not be to prevent the possibility of the barrier being breached, but to make it require so much effort that it is not worth it, or so much time that the intrusion cannot be completed.
In some security operations, once the protection plan is put into place, the status and quality of the operation is not checked until an incident occurs that establishes poor performance by the post’s defenses or the officer’s manning it. Regular evaluations by direct supervision and higher management ensures both that the integrity of [the defense] is maintained, and that the highest quality of officers is recognized, rewarded, and retained.
Assessments should be made both by local management, as well as by independent supervisors with no direct ties to the post to avoid complacency. Features checked should include at the very least the physical state of the post, the condition of any delay barriers and deterrence warnings, as well as the physical appearance of the officer and a check of their response to management’s arrival and their understanding of the post’s orders.
All observations should be documented for filing and evaluation. Being made available to all levels of management and the owners of the property, these reports allow an easy determination as to whether enhanced security measures need to be implemented, or additional training of officers performed.
Identity management is a part of the process of access control. In almost every post that a security officer is stationed, there will be some individuals that are supposed to have access to the property. The means of identifying if an individual is authorized is one of the more important parts of the security operation.
There are several ways to verify that an individual is supposed to have access to a particular area. Badges and ID cards are effective solutions, especially if they are hard to counterfeit. Uniforms with features specific to a department are another common feature that makes it very easy to quickly determine where the wearer should be. When the number of people allowed to enter a property is small, the security officer can be presented with a list to cross check against, or they can be informed in advance when to expect a visit to enable them to turn away all other arrivals.
If the physical access control is implemented with strict enough defenses paired with an identity checking procedure that is proven to be effective, personnel stationed inside can presume that anyone that has made it inside is authorized and can focus on other functions.
A security officer creates reports that document the happenings of the shift every time he performs a patrol, responds to an incident, or even while simply standing watch over a property. These are legal documents that serve as evidence for the proper performance of the locale’s operation, protect both the security officer and their client in the event of an incident, and can help prosecute an intruder and help recover any damages from them.
There are many tools at the disposal of a security officer when recording incidents of interest, much more so than there were even a few years ago. Even the phones that are sure to be owned by almost everyone have a multitude of recording abilities that massively improve the officer’s ability to document incidents and reduce liability for the locations they service. A report mentioning a broken lock or evidence of a trespass is much more effective when photo evidence is included.
A property manager or business owner will not be effective reviewing every ordinary happening during an officer’s shift, nor should they have to. In most cases security will operate smoothly and only the most serious incidents will need to be brought to their attention, though all events down to the routine should be documented. What counts as severe enough to pass on upwards is at the discretion of the client who requested the use of security services.
When a security officer is on patrol through the property they are securing, they are performing a carefully planned and orchestrated maneuver that is designed to both find any evidence of unwanted access by unauthorized personnel, and to announce the security presence to prevent intrusion from occurring. The route and means of the patrol maximize both effects, with the security professionals and property owners determining the best way to do so.
Every round accomplishes several tasks. Searching for examples of intrusion are the most obvious, such as checking entrances and exits for signs of tampering, finding suspicious objects like a briefcase that should not be there, or identifying people not allowed access to the area. Often other purposes are served too, such as discovering malfunctioning machinery or a water leak that could cause massive property damage, or helping guests and residents in a concierge like service.
In some cases, the duties a security officer is required to perform will prevent him from being able to leave his post to perform rounds. This can be made up for with additional personnel with this sole function. A camera system can mimic some of the functions of a patrol, however there are still benefits to having a visible officer patrolling along the vulnerable areas. Cameras may deter a well-planned intrusion, but even when extra effort is made to bring attention to their presence they might not be noticeable enough to prevent a spontaneous trespass from a simple vandal, which can sometimes be a more costly breach. Friendly security personnel showing active prevention have a morale effect on other personnel that machines cannot have.
One of the most common images that comes to mind regarding security at an event or large crowd gathering is a bag check. Bag checks are an essential element of the security plan for many facilities, especially among special event venues with a large spectator gathering. Along with access control and the use of metal detectors they can almost completely eliminate the chance of a weapon or illegal substance being brought into the facility. As always when dealing with other people, especially those who may not be part of their organization, the bag searcher needs to have a focus on customer service.
While overall safety is always the main consideration, every effort should be made to keep the experience of being checked as unobtrusive as possible. Visitors should be made aware of where the search will take place, and what items are not allowed both by signs and on the way and by verbal announcements. When fully informed a customer will not view the search as a negative experience as long as it is felt that entry time is not significantly handicapped because of it. Concessions such as a separate line for entrants with no bag further reduce potential aggravation.
When searching your own employees, additional effort must be made to maintain trust between parties. Privacy policies must be made clear, and employees should know in advance what personal areas such as desks or lockers may be subject to a search. The bag search should take place entirely in view of the owner, after making it clear that permission for the search has been given, with no comments on the personal belongings inside.
How does a security company keep its officers accountable? In many cases the security officer is left completely alone on the property with no immediate supervision; that the location is otherwise unoccupied being the main reason for the officer’s deployment. In such circumstances, when an individual believes there is no accountability, the temptation to slack on job duties, or worse, is at it’s highest. How does a security company prevent that from happening?
The simple answer is to make sure that there is accountability, and that the officer knows it. There are many ways to do this, including having management make random and regular inspections at the times when the officer would least expect to be bothered. The officer’s daily reports should be reviewed at this time, among others, as they provide the best indication of a guard’s performance.
In addition, many sites install systems such as a wand that records the times when guards do rounds, or force the guard’s route to run through an area covered by cameras. The process of ensuring the officer’s accountability begins long before the officer sets foot on an assignment. The interview and training processes should wean out individuals that cannot perform the job duties.
Exploring What Creates A Protected World