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Columns : Preventative Measure - Gamal Newry Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

The Importance of a Good Security Team
By Gamal Newry
Oct 4, 2012 - 1:59:01 AM

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A few years ago I had the pleasure of working for a major developer / investor here in The Bahamas, who specialized in gated communities and is a major player in 3 of the high end communities in The Bahamas and the crème de la crème in Orlando. In my meetings with him as head of security he shared the fact that security was the major selling point for these residential properties. If the home owner does not feel safe, they will not buy and if they do; they will sell immediately if crime and loss are not managed properly. Many other professionals and world leaders share the same perspective, in fact if a company decides to close its doors, the last persons to leave are the security force. This illustrates the importance of security to the success of any business.

The significance of a professional security department is exemplified with the actions of the Atlantis Security Team on Sunday September 22, 2012. There preparedness and response of security ensured that the apparent robbery attempt was not successful. We have seen the media and social network blitz of the events with police cars and police officers parading with guns. I dread to think if the security team failed and the police had to take control of the incident. This is not to say that our men in blue cannot handle crisis events, but most certainly their priority would be different from the vested interest of the proprietary guard force. Added to this is the multi-layered approach that must be taken to implementing and managing a protection services for a huge property like Atlantis. The police would have been at a disadvantage.

Ok, I know that you are going to say that I get around, but in a good way. I recall a while back,  I had the opportunity to see behind the scenes of a major theme park in Orlando, and efforts to ensure that patrons were safe. The security department’s mantra back then was “To Reduce and Eliminate Crime and the Fear of It”. At the time I questioned what I felt was an unrealistic goal, ‘eliminate’ was impossible. I was told by the Director of Safety and Security of the property that he too being a former police officer at one time considered the idea to be unachievable. Never the less he stressed that “unlike policing where the claim to fame is how many crimes have been solved, in security the claim to fame is crime not happening at all.”

If you have been following my column you will note that this is the driving theme for my writings where the police are reactive and security force must be proactive. In a business environment guest, visitors, and staff, cannot get robbed or even have slips and falls, thus preventing loss is key. It makes good business sense especially when you consider the difference in business models. Police are for the most part sponsored by the state and the public treasury. Security forces are usually funded by private entities which can if negligence is perceived and proven, be found liable and incur heavy financial damages.

How do you find a good security force? Here are my top 10 points to look for:

1. Leadership – have a conversation with the leadership and include some of his deputies. If he or she is not professional and knowledgeable, then clearly the tone is set for the rest of the department / company.

2. Guard Quality – certainly the guard may not be at the same education level as that of the managers, but can they at least form a sentence and write.

3. Supervision – are the guards being monitored and visited on a regular basis or are they dropped and left at a site for an entire shift with no type of support services.

4. Policy and Procedures – do they exist, how is the management team ensuring that front-line officers and you as the customer are being made aware of what to do and the expectations.

5. Monthly / Quarterly reports – if the only contact you have with your security team leadership is billing or payroll, you certainly have a problem.

6. Multilayer Approach – is there a plan that encompasses not only the human resource but also electronic and physical assets be they cameras or locking of doors.

7. Emergency Management – what is the plan when everything that can go wrong does?

8. Training / Education – is training via seminars / workshops etc. being provided to the officers and your staff members.

9. Appearance – remember that the security guard in many instances is the first and last impression that people will have of your company, whether the officers are in house or contracted their dress and hygiene is critical.

10. What is being said about their service – solicit feedback from staff and guest, do they feel safe and are they satisfied with the level of service.

The above list is no particular order but in my opinion training and leadership are key to success. The quality of your guard force is really dependent on you as the purchaser, and remember you get what you pay for. Too many times company leadership in an effort to cut cost and save money choose a low end security team, but unrealistically anticipate high end results.

Looking at an example of security in our Bahamaland, and while listening to the comments of the Bahamas Minister of National Security and Atlantis CEO, regarding the recent attempted robbery incident at Atlantis, they both remarked on the excellent response by the Atlantis Team. From what I know thus far, I certainly agree, it was a job well done.

Gamal Newry  is the president of Preventative Measures, loss prevention and asset protection training and consulting company, specializing in policy and procedure development, business security reviews and audits, and emergency and crisis management. Comments can be sent to PO Box N-3154 Nassau, Bahamas, or e-mail gnewry@gmail.com or visit us at  www.preventativemeasures.org

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Preventative Measure - Gamal Newry
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