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The time has come.

The Time Has Come

ALTHOUGH THE ROOTS OF private security can be traced back many centuries--at least to the 11th century--long preceding public law enforcement, which did not surface until 1783'--many people have never thought of private security as being a profession. Granted, security does not have a highly structured academic prerequisite to practice as many professions do; neither does it require a license or certification to practice, although guard personnel must be licensed in some jurisdictions. Yet, it bears remembering that all professions, including medicine and law, were practiced for centuries before the path of entry to them was made formal or eligibility to practice them was regulated.

What set certain fields apart from other livelihoods and marked them as being professions was the need for specialized knowledge. The formal definition of a profession is "a vocation or occupation requiring advanced training in some liberal art or science and usually involving mental rather than manual work, as teaching, engineering, writing, etc., especially medicine, law, or theology."(2) In light of this definition, security can be considered a profession because it requires advanced training of a mental rather than manual nature.

This claim is not made to suggest that all security practitioners demonstrate full professional competence; no profession could seriously make that claim. Rather, it is made to point out a fact many people seem unaware of--that security is not merely a matter of intuition or common sense; it involves a complex body of knowledge, analytical abilities, and the know-how to prescribe suitable security measures for individual circumstances, as well as the effective use of an array of other managerial skills.

Knowledge and Skills Required

Up-to-date familiarity with physical security devices and controls and their uses is one of the most obvious knowledge requirements for security professionals. What may not be so obvious is the breadth of that subject. By itself, physical security occupies many specialists full-time. Access controls, for example, range from simple locks to complex computerized systems, and the 1987 Security Industry Buyers Guide contains more than 125 such categories of equipment.

But what security professionals must know does not end with physical security. They must also be aware of legal considerations and labor relations issues and how these should and do affect corporate security policies and practices.

Legal requirements and government regulations pertinent to security in the particular industry in which the security practitioner's employer is engaged must be known and adhered to. The security professional must also be ever mindful of the potential for conflicts between the organization's need for security and individuals' rights to privacy.

Procedural knowledge is yet another requirement for security professionals. Security surveying, vulnerability assessment, risk analysis, personnel screening methods, subject matter and techniques for training, loss reporting and analysis, proper investigative techniques, contingency planning, and other procedures specific to security must be mastered.

In view of the scope of technical knowledge involved in security, Bennett Hartman has concluded that, like practitioners in law and medicine, security managers cannot possibly commit to memory all there is to know in their field. Therefore, knowing broadly what information exists and where to look for specific information when needed is a key requirement for security managers. Staying abreast of scientific and procedural advances as well as legal developments must be continual, accomplished through review of the industry's literature, participation in educational programs, and interaction with colleagues in the field.(3)

Many security practitioners have gained much of their technical knowledge through experience in public law enforcement, the military, and the academic arena. At one time, mere possession of technical knowledge was sufficient for an individual to perform effectively as a security practitioner and to be considered a professional. In the last 10 to 15 years, however, more has been expected from the security practitioner than just technical skills.

Today, security requires a broad range of management expertise as well as knowledge of the technical aspects of security. Security practitioners are expected to be cognizant of the way the client's or employer's business is run and to be oriented to what contribution security can make to the overall success of that business. The security practitioner needs to be knowledgeable about and to understand such management concerns as return on investment, budget and finance, personnel matters, compensation, public relations, and insurance and liability issues.

Because costs for security programs have like most business functions escalated significantly over the past decade, security professionals must identify the most cost-effective means of providing protection. This means integrating personnel, equipment, and procedures in an efficient manner that causes the least possible interference to ongoing business operations while adequately safeguarding the organization's assets.

Hartman has pointed out that professionalism is vital to a security program, given the "size and complexity of present day organizations. [Consequently, security personnel at all levels must] be well trained in their specific functions."(4)

Any security administrator who is unable to transcend the company-cop mentality and deal with business associates as a business manager will inevitably fail to provide fully effective security. Cooperation and support from management and employees as a whole are key facets of security programs. If employees feel the security administrator is out to get people rather than to ensure a safe and secure working environment, that cooperation and support will not be forthcoming.

Unlike other business professions such as purchasing, finance, and personnel recruiting, in which the application of fundamentals is much the same from one organization to another, security differs considerably according to the specifics of the organization where it is applied. To be sure, there are similarities, and knowledge can be transferred, but how these are adapted to various situations is crucial to the effectiveness of the security effort.

For example, the measures used to secure a large plant involved in research and development differ greatly from those suitable for a chain of small retail outlets, computers, oil fields, transportation operations, high-rise office buildings, hotels, or communication networks. Yet, because the security practitioner may be called on to provide protection for such a diverse collection of operations, the knowledge needed to match preventive measures to a given situation is also necessarily broad.

Security for one company may consist of protecting a headquarters facility, one location where access is relatively easy to control. In another organization, such as a nationwide chain of convenience stores, facilities must be protected in all kinds of locations--suburbs, the middle of big cities, low-crime and high-crime areas--so the task is considerably more complex. The tools and methods that are effective in the first instance cannot be transferred directly to the other.

In some organizations, securing the manufactured product, such as television sets, is the focus of efforts, while in others, the security of the components that go into making the final product is equally important.

Computer chips are an example that readily comes to mind. Valuable and easily concealed, they make attractive targets for internal theft. In still other organizations, ideas and information are critical assets, and even though they are intangible, the security professional must devise ways to safeguard them.

Because the products and services to be protected are as diverse as business itself, the security professional must be virtually a Nostradamus to project what might be at risk and what threats must be protected against.

Threats may come from people within the organization, from people outside it, or even from natural disasters. The security professional must determine what is needed, in light of the potential for any given threat, to protect the organization's assets adequately. Whatever is selected must still permit a free flow of personnel, ideas, and materials for manufacturing, distribution, and service activities.

The 1980s have presented security practitioners with diverse challenges, from drug and alcohol abuse to industrial espionage and terrorism. While in the past security was of concern primarily to defense contractors, in recent years even the Boy Scouts of America and religious institutions have found it necessary to call on the security profession for help. Because so many more kinds of assets and businesses now require protection, many more solutions to the safeguarding problem must be devised.

Professionalism in Security

The role of security has taken on a much greater importance over the past two decades. Lives as well as organizational survival are often dependent on the effectiveness of security. For this reason, competent performance by security professionals is critical.

Private security as we know it today originated as a Department of Defense requirement and was handled under other key organizational functions, including personnel, finance, and legal. As recently as 20 years ago, the security manager's only responsibility was the safeguarding of government-classified information. Security was considered simply a cost of doing business with the government. So long as government inspections of the contractor's facility were satisfactory, nothing further was demanded. Many veteran security practitioners now refer to those as the good old days.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, security managers were rarely asked to provide total security for a given plant or industry. The social unrest of the late 1960s and the changes in the social climate in this country since that time, however, have thrust security managers into new arenas of responsibility.

To a significant extent this occurred because at about this time public law enforcement was suddenly faced with providing more protection while undergoing reductions in personnel and funds. Much of the burden was shifted to the private sector, which had traditionally obtained some, if not all, of its protective services from local, state, and federal law enforcement.

The new reliance on the security profession also arose because, in the 1970s, companies that had no government-classified work, and therefore little previous interest in security, began to realize that personnel and property were subject to increasing risks that threatened the well-being of the company. Their rising need for protection could not be accommodated by public law enforcement, so private security practitioners were turned to. Personnel screening, risk management, executive protection, drug abuse prevention, and responses to a host of other problems that now confront American business became security responsibilities.

Security has played an expanded role for nearly two decades and is being recognized in more organizations as an essential element of organizational survival. Because top management calls more frequently on the security director and can be expected to do so even more in the future, there is a trend to place security personnel closer to the chief executive officer in the organizational structure.

Despite this trend, security professionals are not being given carte blanche to accomplish their mission. Consequently, the security director must be able to show how sound security measures can enhance and contribute to business objectives, or else the resources necessary for adequate security may be limited.

Showing the contribution a secure environment makes to productivity by relieving employee concerns about their safety relates the expenditure for, say, a computerized access control system to a fundamental company objective and improves the likelihood of the acceptance of the expenditure.

Obstacles to Professional Acceptance

A major obstacle for security professionals is the public's failure or unwillingness to perceive security as a profession. People are ignorant of what security professionals do primarily because security practitioners have not actively publicized their roles in organizations. By the nature of their positions, they tend to work without great display and often behind the scenes.

Misconceptions have been perpetuated largely because the public's awareness of security most often results from contact with uniformed personnel and news reports of security gone awry. Just as a receptionist often conveys the initial impression of an organization to visitors, the uniformed officer is the first impression many people receive of the private security organization. Yet most activities for which security professionals are responsible are seldom seen by the general public and virtually never make the news.

Several efforts have been made in recent years to correct misconceptions about security and to raise awareness of what security professionals do. The American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) recently prepared a short videotape entitled "The Invisible Man" to inform general business audiences of the breadth and complexity of the security field.

Educating general management about security was deemed important partly because the lack of understanding often leads management to hire poorly qualified individuals to fill incorrectly defined jobs, with the result that the "business executive becomes dissatisfied with the security profession."(5)

The importance of the basic problem cannot be underestimated. Management's losing sight of the "need for professionalism [among] security personnel" creates the false impression that "any person with a law enforcement background can perform key security functions without further and specialized training.... In the past, billions of dollars have been lost through misjudgment in proper selection of personnel."(6)

In addition, organizations all too often pay not for professional security performance but for the learning experiences of individuals hired from fields viewed as related to security, even though those backgrounds actually offer little loss prevention experience.

During the learning period, the employer's security programs may be weakened, and once the person has gained adequate knowledge, the employer frequently loses the individual to another organization. "The original employer has...financed the training, but has not [received any] benefit from it--another expensive failure."(7)

This pattern of misinformed management's hiring of persons with only law enforcement, intelligence, or investigative background contributes to a primary source of misconceptions about the security profession--the influx of people to security as a second career who mistakenly assume there is little or no difference between what is done in public law enforcement and what is done in security. Although many individuals from public-agency backgrounds quickly make the transition, others do not, and those individuals convey an erroneous impression of what competent security is all about.

The private sector's goal is the prevention of crime, whereas law enforcement focuses primarily on investigating crimes after their occurrence and apprehending criminals. Of course, security does involve some investigation and apprehension, and in some law enforcement agencies specially assigned officers do concentrate on preventive efforts.

Another significant difference is that private industry is structured differently from a public law enforcement agency. The public sector spends tax-payers' money for the common good.

By contrast, in the private sector the goal is the production of products or services at the least cost possible to return the maximum to the stockholders or investors. Also, in the private sector, relatively few rules and regulations guide one's conduct, whereas in public law enforcement, most actions are taken as a result of laws, codes of conduct, and regulations. In that sense, law enforcement can be considered a more exact science than can private security.

Advancement of the Profession

Even in the days when security was concentrated in the business of defense contractors, the need to share knowledge and upgrade capabilities was recognized. The security managers for those contractors formed ASIS for that purpose.

As a result of the rising demand in other industries for individuals who could oversee programs to protect organizations' assets, ASIS's membership rolls swelled from a mere 6,000 in 1975 to almost 25,000 in 1987, and the society's focus has broadened considerably. ASIS is now the world's largest professional membership organization serving security.

A network of more than 180 ASIS chapters fosters information exchanges on a local basis, and with security's expansion into all kinds of organizations, 30 committees are dedicated to particular specialties in the field, from banking and finance security to museum, library, and archive security, and from educational institutions security to telecommunications security. A number of relatively small associations have also cropped up that represent individual security specialties.

To assist its members with staying abreast of the many facets of the profession, ASIS publishes Security Management magazine. A reflection of the expansion of the industry, Security Management has increased from under 400 pages a year to more than 1,300 pages a year. The field is also addressed by several commercially owned magazines and a variety of special-focus newsletters, two of which are devoted entirely to legal decisions relevant to security.

Much has occurred to advance the profession on the academic front as well. In the late 1970s, the reduction of funds for law enforcement resulted in a decrease in trainees and declining interest of students in law enforcement courses offered at academic institutions.

The concurrent rise in private security led to the introduction of security courses at two-and four-year colleges. In 1970, the American Association of Junior Colleges indicated a total of two associate-degree programs in the United States offering security and loss prevention programs. By 1975, the number of institutions offering courses had risen to 113.(8)

As late as 1978, there were no master's degree programs offered in industrial security.(9) A few master's programs are available today, and in 1986, the ASIS Foundation joined forces with Central Michigan University to sponsor a program that leads to a master of science in administration with emphasis in security.

While security was gaining a foothold in the academic community, ASIS began to offer workshops that stress the technical aspects of the profession. It also offered week-long courses in the Assets Protection series, which now includes Assets Protection Courses I, II, and III, as well as the Professional Certification Review, a two-day course.

ASIS began work on a professional certification program in the early 1970s.

"Those of us in the security field never really had any objective standards for evaluating professional competence," according to Timothy J. Walsh, CPP. The 10th president of ASIS, Walsh, a recognized leader of the security profession, was involved with the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) program from its inception. "We were looking for a way professional colleagues could recognize some common level of achievement."(10)

The 1976 Report of the Task Force on Private Security, by the National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, included "professional certification programs" as a specific goal that "can strengthen the role of private security personnel and increase the professionalism of the industry."(11)

A 1977 statement from ASIS's Professional Certification Board (PCB) pointed out that both the American Society for Industrial Security's decision to establish the professional certification program and the Task Force on Private Security's recommendation on developing voluntary certification programs for private security managerial personnel are based on the fact that establishment, maintenance, and development of standards are means that have been historically used by the professions and other fields requiring special education, knowledge, and experience to ensure the necessary quality of service to society by those who desire to practice in a particular profession or field.(12)

The PCB's statement also explained that the following points were determined as having principal validity in decisions to proceed with a certification program for protection professionals:

1. Other professional groups and individuals, as well as general management, increasingly depend on security and loss prevention principles and practices. Some of their direct and delegated responsibilities involve liabilities under laws and regulations, and they are increasingly concerned that others on whom they depend are likewise responsible and measured against standards of excellence and performance. 2. From the government and public viewpoints, the primary issues are ones of public safety and welfare. In the same sense that other professionals' performances are monitored when these issues are involved, so increasingly is the performance of the security professional as the conduct of his or her duties impacts on public safety and welfare. 3. Since certification is not a function of a government agency, it seldom has legal status. However, in an increasing number of cases in recent years, certification has been granted government recognition as an indication of a person's professional competence. 4. From an employer's perspective, certification can provide a meaningful standard, in addition to information as to academic record, position experience, and professional performance, for evaluation of those desiring employment, promotion, and advancement. 5. Certification tends to improve professional competence in the field and thus promotes the public's welfare and raises the public's respect for the profession.(13)

The first CPP was designated in 1977. ASIS followed the excellent work by the American Society of Safety Engineers and many other organizations that were operating successful certification programs. In taking these steps, ASIS was the first to acknowledge formally that those who would fill the role of security director in the future would need certain specialized knowledge and skills and academic credentials to meet future security challenges.

According to Dick Cross, ASIS president in 1973 and another leader in development of the CPP program, There were three goals behind the establishment of the program. First, ASIS had a public and organizational responsibility to provide some mechanism for security practitioners to demonstrate their professional ability. Second, we needed to elevate the personal status of security professionals in both government and industry, as they were not viewed very highly. And finally, employers in need of a security person would have some assurance of that person's level of knowledge.(14)

One of the primary aims of the CPP program has been to encourage members of the profession to keep up with change. Toward this end, recertification based on qualifying activity points is required every three years.(15)

Analyses of candidates for the protection professional certification have confirmed that formal schooling in traditional police or law enforcement subjects does not enable candidates to score substantially higher on the CPP exam than do majors in other subjects. In addition, while many candidates have law enforcement, intelligence, or investigative backgrounds, such experience has not in itself proven an adequate identifier of protection professionals.(16)

As professional certification was developing, the tools available to security practitioners changed and advanced markedly, benefiting from developments in the computer industry. Alarm systems, as one example, now operate by computers and integrate many functions other than signal intrusion, including selective access control, fire protection, environmental control, and closed-circuit television.

The tremendous growth in security equipment and services has caused the exhibits portion of ASIS's annual seminar to grow from 128 booths in 1977 to over 650 booths in 1987, making that event a major educational resource for the security manager.

The new capabilities made possible by advancing technology necessitate a much greater effort to stay up to date. To aid security professionals further with locating the equipment and services best suited to specific assignments, ASIS assisted the publisher of the Security Industry Buyers Guide, Bell Atlantic, in developing its format and content.

To ensure that the body of knowledge of the security profession is accessible, ASIS established the O. P. Norton Information Resource Center in 1985 at its headquarters in Arlington, VA. Currently staffed by two full-time professional librarians, the center's holdings are being computerized to provide ready access for security managers and other professionals.

Still another sign of advancement in the profession can be seen in the ASIS Foundation, which raises funds to underwrite scientific research, expand educational pursuits in the field, and support scholarship programs for security students.

Continuing Challenges

As a profession, security is at the stage where finance and data processing were 20 or 30 years ago. Much progress has been made toward formal identification of the field's body of knowledge and establishment of academic programs addressing that subject matter.

The CPP program has passed the 10-year mark and has gained wide acceptance as an indicator of professional knowledge. This accomplishment unquestionably marks a turning point in the struggle to establish security as a profession. Expansion on the progress on these fronts can be expected to strengthen security's position as a profession.

Security continues, however, to face an uphill climb in its efforts to gain acceptance as a profession among the broader business community and the public in the United States. A concerted effort to acquaint persons outside the field with its scope and complexity is imperative.

Until those who hire individuals to fill security positions understand the qualifications necessary for effective performance, the field will be vulnerable to the image problems caused by unqualified persons who are ineffective in their efforts. Unfortunately, the inabilities of individuals are all too often generalized to the profession as a whole.

Further, if the security job itself has not been appropriately conceived, even a fully qualified security professional may not be able to fulfill management's expectations. Therefore, the importance of expanding understanding of the profession among top management is doubly important, first so management can properly define the role of security in the organization and then so qualified individuals will be selected to fill security positions.

Educating entrants to the field to the requirements for professional practice and how security differs from other fields they may have previously worked in is a further necessity. An especially important aspect of this education process is emphasis on the need for broad management skills and understanding of business goals and how security fits into them.

Finally, individual practitioners must demonstrate professional competence and communicate an accurate picture of the security profession to business colleagues if long-standing sterotypes are to be supplanted by the image of a professional manager whose technical expertise lies in security.

PHOTO : ASIS Executive Director E.J. Criscuoli, Jr., CPP, believes professionalism in security

PHOTO : requires many managerial skills. [1] Gion Green and Ray Farber, Introduction to Security: Principles and Practices (Los Angeles: Security World, 1975), p. 25. [2] Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (Simon & Schuster), 2d ed., s.v. "profession." [3] Bennett Moyses Hartman, "The Need for Professionalism in Security Administration" PhD Dissertation, Pacific Western University, 1978, p. 3. [4] Hartman, p. 1. [5] Hartman, p. 2. [6] Hartman, p. 28. [7] Hartman. [8] Richard S. Post and Arthur A. Kingsbury, Security Administration: An Introduction, 3d ed. (Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, 1977), p. 771. [9] Hartman, p. 58. [10] Shari M. Gallery, "Doctor, Lawyer, CPP," Security Management, January 1987, p. 50. [11] Hartman, p. 53. [12] Hartman, reprinted by permission. [13] Hartman, pp. 53-54, reprinted by permission. [14] Gallery, p. 50. [15] Gallery, p. 58. [16] Gallery, p. 56. About the Author...E.J. Criscuoli, Jr., CPP, has been executive vice president of ASIS since May 1977. He spent 18 years with the General Electric Company, ending as security manager for General Electric's Valley Forge Space Center. He served 10 years on the ASIS Board of Directors and was ASIS's 20th president and chairman of the board. Criscuoli also was security manager at Curtiss Wright Corporation's Research Division and served in the US Army Counterintelligence Corps. He is a graduate of Boston College in economics.
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Title Annotation:security programs
Author:Criscuoli, E.J., Jr.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Feb 1, 1989
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