Printer Friendly

Diagnosing crime trends.


TOO OFTEN, STATISTICS ON crime and security activity are not properly tabulated. By developing a crime statistic gathering document (or security activity report), a security manager can track crime trends as they develop. Knowing those trends, the manager can more fruitfully redirect security officers' patrol efforts to stem future crimes.

For a crime-tracking program to succeed, security supervisors must be trained to track and report data in monthly or quarterly security activity reports (see Exhibit 1). The information should then be sent to a management collection point. There the information can be put in bar chart form for easy tracking and comparison.

This article will examine a crime-tracking program in place at a group of 14 hospitals in northern California that collectively employ 20,500 personnel. Each location has a security complement consisting of a lieutenant (supervisor), sergeant (assistant supervisor), and patrol persons. Guards are provided by an outside contract guard agency, which takes its direction from a regional security director, a company employee.

Because of the geography (locations scattered throughout the region), it is difficult to monitor crime trends and security officer activities for each location. When a crime occurs, the security department takes a report on the crime and calls the local police. The crimes are then recorded and charted at one location. Statistic gathering makes it possible to see crime trends as they develop and then redirect patrol activities accordingly. Exhibit 2 shows several bar charts corresponding to the numbered activity sections in the security activity report.

At the beginning of such a program, the crime tracking, tabulation, personnel training, and statistical analysis do not show results for the first three months. After that period, the bar charts for each location contain enough information that security personnel can begin to anticipate problems, not just react. Where crime is high, security can implement changes in personnel and methods. Crime should begin to decline within four to six months.

Over the years, police agencies have found the compilation of crime statistics helpful in determining crime trends and law enforcement needs in specific geographic areas. Crime statistics show law enforcement agencies and the public whether action must be taken. The numbers then show whether that action was effective.

The FBI uses a uniform crime report that allows the bureau to respond to the needs of the country. However, the general population routinely neglects to report crime. As a result, criminals become daring: Knowing their crimes will be ignored, criminals continue to act with little fear of reprisal. When reporting is careful and complete, police agencies have an accurate picture of crime patterns and can deploy more patrols to the most dangerous areas.

A CRIME-TRACKING PROGRAM HAS proven effective in one major arena of security--hospitals. The health care industry has historically viewed crime as a problem outside hospitals. Hospital management did not believe people of mercy were capable of stealing. As a result, management failed to provide protection. Today, health care is the third largest industry in the United States. Crime losses in the industry are estimated at $5.5 billion. In fact, $1,000 in crime losses per bed per year is a conservative estimate. The result is that a hospital's security needs are much like those of a retail business.

Historically, hospital security departments have been put in a policing--not management--role. That arrangement left management no system of accountability for losses or any basic data to create a security plan.

Fortunately, hospitals are now using computers to generate investigative reports and create data bases for historical theft analysis and resource allocation. Such record keeping can identify types of problems and whether they occurred in pediatrics, the pharmacy, or supply rooms. The security staff can then act on the problem more directly--without slowing down the rest of the hospital staff.

One hospital has created a monthly productivity report based on daily reports. The productivity report shows the number of hours spent on various security functions. If a daily activity report shows thefts or other problems in a given area, the productivity report will show how much time is being spent in that patrol zone. If problems continue, the standards for patrolling in that area can be adjusted.

The report not only identifies problems but also serves as a management tool to determine what employees are doing on duty. Reviewing the reports regularly has made management more aware of the problems security officers face on duty. The security officers have reciprocated with a more sensitive attitude toward management. The officers now feel management is working with them to solve security problems. The system has been refined further by using a computer to compile the data.

Crime prevention in hospitals is also being approached through physical security. In that approach too it is necessary to compile statistics to define which locations need more or less security. One hospital enacted a drug theft program that used a data base for historical theft analysis and staff and resource allocation. The administrators found that immediate reporting of thefts facilitated the solving of crimes. That conclusion matches the philosophy found in police work: Reporting is the key to the successful curbing of crime. Without reporting, there can be no compilation of statistics for analysis and subsequent action.

In the reporting procedures used by hospitals, two factors bear great weight. The first factor is employee education. The success of the security program is directly related to the employee education program, which should be started well before any changes begin. Employees must be trained to recognize incidents as they occur, and security personnel must be trained not only to enforce security regulations properly but also to report any incidents that occur. In addition, security personnel should be taught the reasons for keeping accurate and detailed information on incidents. Their understanding will encourage them to fill out reports correctly and on time.

To give an example from outside the health care field, a few years ago United Airlines implemented a mandatory reporting system to reduce theft. First, management sent a memo to all employees. Next, employees were put through security training sessions. The reporting program helped the airline begin investigations and provided information for a data base used to analyze trends. Losses at United were down by the second half of the program's first year.

The second important factor is the reporting procedure itself. Reports must be uniform throughout the company. In the compilation of data, accuracy should be verified by follow-up; responsibility for the theft reporting system should remain consistent; internal and external pressures from key personnel must be monitored; human and mechanical error should be minimized by training and further validation and verification of information; and personnel should be trained and experienced. Forms must clearly state where copies are to be sent, and follow-up calls to police officers should be made regularly as a sign of cooperation.

A report should contain details on the type of item stolen, a record of the time and weather when the item was stolen, and a supplementary follow-up report indicating whether the ariticle was recovered and, if not, the estimated replacement cost. cost.

Data should be analyzed periodically during the year to determine patters. During each analysis, changes from previous report periods should be noted. In reporting the statistics to management, analyses that are both detailed and easily understood work best. Managers will not act if they do not understand the problem. Once they understand it, they can start examining whether special security equipment in certain areas might be cost-efficient.

Bar charts paint a clear picture for upper management and help security managers deploy their staffs in the most efficient manner. The statistical appoach also helps security managers demonstrate that increased security can save more than it costs.
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.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Estrella, Skip
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1989
Previous Article:DOA: destruction of almost anything.
Next Article:Security for the golden years.

Related Articles
Post-traumatic stress and insanity.
Over the edge.
Three strikes policy is just a quick-fix solution.
Crime Rate Falls In New Jersey.
Mental Health Concerns of Adjudicated Youths.
Section VII: appendix I: methodology.
Appendix IV: the nation's two crime measures.
Appendix IV--the nation's two crime measures.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters