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Can we get it together?

Can We Get It Together?

AS BOTH A MEMBER OF ASIS AND a former police officer, I find myself intrigued and concerned with the issue of cooperation between the public and private sectors in the crime prevention field. I am een more intrigued by the discouragingly small number of successful examples of such joint ventures. After a dispassionate look, it would seem that the relevant issues could be boiled down to a few simple principles.

Knowledge. The issues of who is where, why, and with what is not unlike what a major league baseball scout has to deal with. Who fills what position at your company or agency? How well? What does the employee offer and have to deal with? What is your employee's professional background and interests, and how will that mesh with the basic thrust of your agency? Just as we must understand the opposition to deal effectively with them, we must know even more about the members of our own team. Effective cooperation begins with the simple knowledge of the personnel and assets available to do a more productive, effective job.

Communication. Regular, clear, and uninhibited communication between police and private security practitioners at both the decision-making and line levels of operation is essential. Communication at the line level has always been important and the one place it most commonly exists. The beat cop, squad detective, or sector sergeant stopping by to pass the time of day (day information) to the security force manager or loss prevention specialist has long been a common practice--despite ups and downs in the mutual levels of goodwill.

Rarely, however, does this kind of two-way communication exist at the decision-making level. Although information may be passed on, it is not often systematically recorded or distributed to the agency personnel most in need of that information. The necessity for a viable communications vehicle needs to be established, officially supported, and used. Something as simple as a monthly or quarterly luncheon with your policy-making counter-parts may be a good starting point.

Cross training. We all know there is a public and a private sector. Consider how much each arena could offer through a strong, flexible, and imaginative cross-training program. Such a program would take very little of the precious training time available to familiarize agencies with the functions, capabilities, and general policies we each labor with.

Cross training can be accomplished at formal training and briefing sessions or at something as informal as office luncheons. The important thing is that the process be systematically fed and nurtured with appropriate, useful, and relevant information. Cross training is one of the most reliable methods of establishing the credibility of each participant's organization and organizational goals.

Follow-up. Public or private, once information has been shared, it needs to be followed up. Was the information useful? Did you let the person who gave you the information know what you did with it? Recognition of information received and its usefulness is never a lost effort. By following up the information, you can discover the flaws in your process, particularly those based on communications. Follow-up can be a significant factor in finding a cure for the ills of interagency, cross-sector communications problems.

Recognition. How often do we receive or give recognition for good work? With sincere recognition for worthy services, a strong relationship can be cemented and positive future efforts practically ensured. Recognition, both official and unofficial, is a keystone in working relationships. Public sector leaders must recognize the assistance from their private sector colleagues, and security managers need to recognize the public sector in more ways than Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Public information. Public awareness of the joint security efforts between the public and private sectors has never been strong. Both sectors are too wary of the media, even when they can help the security industry. We need a credible mechanism for informing the public that it actually is safer when the public and private crime prevention agencies are working together. Public information is not the sole property of some small unit or individual assigned to inform the public; public information is a job for all of us.

Public support. Key political figures must be briefed regularly on the collective efforts of the public and private arenas. Let the politicians take a bit of the credit for some of the successes the private and public sectors have shared. Police and private security practitioners often represent organized groups rather than individuals. These organizations garner political support and positive attention. One way to do this is to know the current views and needs a political entity is espousing--allowing our organizations to present our concerns to the people who can do something about them.

Speaker's bureau. Security managers should organize a speaker's bureau of their more articulate team members. Send multidisciplinary speakers in teams to the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis, the local chamber of commerce, senior citizen centers, and community meetings. Get the speakers out in front of influential citizens and let the public know what is going on in the security industry. Fear of crime and lack of public safety are at the top of most citizens' concerns lists. They have a need, not to mention a right, to know what is happening.

You can build support and interest by spreading the word through public and private cooperation. Few approaches are more effective. When pushing an issue, a coordinated, multidisciplinary speaking team properly placed in front of the target population can gain the grass roots initiative for support and growth.

Perseverance. Few worthwhile goals come easily. Our business--crime prevention--is no different. All the guidelines mentioned are worthless if we choose to give up after the first try. Only diligence and honest effort will help you progress toward the goal of better public safety work for all.

This outline is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. It is, however, a starting point. Hardheads in both sectors will resist--after all, it is much easier to stay in your comfort zone and continue the way you are. With limited budgets in both sectors, however, we must find ways to work as a combined public and private team to prevent crime and to provide safety to the public, our corporations, and ourselves.

Alton W. Terry recently retired as a major in the Seattle police department.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:cooperation between public & private sectors in crime prevention
Author:Terry, Alton W.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:column
Date:Mar 1, 1989
Previous Article:Keeping crises cool.
Next Article:Take it from the top.

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