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An alternative to regulation.

MANY SECURITY PROFESSIONALS believe the issues faced by the industry can be minimized if security regulations are imposed by the government. High turnover rates, training, quality of service, and level of commitment among both contract and proprietary guard forces are among the issues currently receiving regulatory attention. However, security managers can actively improve and correct the problems without resorting to regulation.

The high cost of proprietary security officers can be reduced by using part-time employees. Keeping an up-to-date stable of part-time officers available can help ensure security is not compromised because of vacations, sick leave, or additional security requirements.

If part-time proprietary personnel are not available, finding a good contract agency willing to deploy the type of officers required in a crisis may be difficult. Nonetheless, finding an agency that will accommodate that need is worth the effort.

A popular New England clothing store chain advertises that "an educated consumer is our best customer." That slogan applies to the contract security industry as well. Before choosing a contract guard company, security managers should research the services available from various firms and match the services against their expectations.

Once a company has been chosen the work begins. Many of the problems that exist are caused by poor contract management. Too frequently, security managers adopt the attitude that contract personnel are not their employees and that the responsibility for their conduct and training lies with the agency.

Providing written instructions for contract officers should not be the sole responsibility of the agency, however. An agency cannot write specific post orders and keep them updated. Security managers must take an active interest in the selection, training, and supervision of contract security staff and address problems when they arise.

To avoid officer fraternization issues, shifts can be rotated quarterly, and posts can be changed monthly, weekly, or even every few hours. A varied schedule will prevent officers from becoming too familiar with employees and help officers perform their duties by keeping them alert and cutting down on boredom. While some training and scheduling problems may occur, ultimately the force will be more balanced.

By creating an atmosphere where contract employees are well trained, can express their views, and feel a part of the team, security managers can rely as much on a contract force as then can on a proprietary force.

The following list includes techniques that have proven successful when working with contract personnel:

* Meet every new security officer before he or she begins training for your assignment. Make arrangements to have final approval of officers selected for each site.

* Set minimum training standards and include contract security personnel in in-house training programs on topics such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, supervision, and safety.

* In addition to regular staff meetings and daily interaction, conduct monthly meetings with on-site contract supervisors and hold quarterly meetings with the entire force.

* Give officers pay or vacation incentives for established, attainable lengths of service.

* Keep officers updated on company activities and invite them to functions when appropriate.

* Communicate directly with officers on their performance and document good and bad examples.

Contract security personnel can be an important asset to any security program even if they do not work for the company every day. To help ensure that the appropriate needs are met, find a good agency and build a working relationship with that agency in advance. Be sure to communicate what is expected from the agency and interact with its officers. A good agency will recognize your efforts and be willing to work with you.

Kevin Surette, CPP, is a security consultant with Facility Management Solutions Inc. in Chelmsford, MA. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:how security managers can help solve problems plaguing the security industry
Author:Surette, Kevin
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Words:607
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