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Essential expert expectations.


ANY INSTITUTION OPEN TO THE public has vulnerabilities that often are not addressed until after an incident occurs, particularly when the business lacks a trained in-house security professional. Regardless of the good intentions of an organization's staff, if they are not trained to observe and analyze risks, serious shortcomings in the protection of people who visit or work in the facilities and to the building and its contents are bound to exist. In the case of a nonprofit institution, the organization's board of directors or trustees are responsible morally, and in most cases legally, for the protection of life and property.

For this reason, increasing numbers of small to medium-sized institutions are turning to security consultants to survey their premises and programs and recommend protective measures. A qualified consultant understands all aspects of security. He or she is familiar with various types of institutions and can make appropriate recommendations.

When hiring a security consultant, an organization should make certain an individual is qualified. This entails verifying the person's credentials and references. Once an organization is satisfied the consultant is qualified, it should obtain, in writing, a proposal that details the scope of the survey. A well-written proposal spells out not only what will be done but also what will not be done. A proposal should contain the following items:

* when the survey will be conducted

* the length of time to be spent on site

* the time frame within which a written report will be prepared and submitted to the organization

* the fee to be paid, terms of payment, and whether expenses are included

In addition, the proposal should specify whether the consultant will recommend specific types or brands of equipment the organization should install or whether the recommendations will be broader, with the understanding that an architect, engineer, or other specialist will be retained to prepare detailed specifications.

A proposal should also indicate whether personnel and financial controls and the internal security of data in a computer system are within the scope of the survey. If so, is the consultant qualified in those areas? Although safety considerations are not the primary function of a security survey, it should be understood that the consultant will report safety hazards uncovered during the survey.

The consultant needs to have access to a staff person who is thoroughly familiar with the building. This provision should also be included in the proposal.

Once the proposal has been accepted by both parties, the consultant should visit the site. This visit should be done on a typical working day so that normal conditions can be studied.

An organization needs to provide the consultant with building plans or at least schematics. These plans should indicate all doors and windows at grade, stairways, elevators, driveways and roadways surrounding the building, unusual topographical features of the surroundings, and exterior features that could provide access to the building below grade or at upper floors.

The staff person assigned to work with the consultant should have at least two copies of the facility's layout for the consultant. As the two survey the facility, the consultant can note conditions as they pertain to each architectural feature on one set. The second set is marked with reference numbers or letters that can be incorporated into the report to clearly define where recommendations are made.

In addition to observing firsthand what is occurring during his or her visit, it is the consultant's responsibility to find out who uses the various entrances and exits, at what hours, and when (week or season). It is the staff person's responsibility to disclose information about the kinds of people who enter, use, or work in the building and whether the facility has experienced problems.

Once the physical survey is completed, the consultant and the staff person should review in detail the different programs or facility uses that occur other than on a normal working day. If the survey includes an internal examination, this needs to be reviewed in detail, bringing in, if necessary, other staff members to disclose operational facts. Documents or procedures already in place that affect security should be made available to the consultant. Insurance policies and schedules should be reviewed by the consultant as well.

Once the consultant has all the necessary information, he or she can prepare a report. The format of the report depends on the complexity of the facility surveyed, the difficulty of combining physical and philosophical recommendations, and the organization's willingness to fund security recommendations or make operational changes that effect established behavior patterns.

The report usually begins with a summary of the survey. General approaches for improving security and the differences between protecting life and limb and protecting property, based on the type of organization surveyed, also should be included in the report.

One successful format used by some consultants for a complex multiuse facility is to identify all entrances on the site plan. The consultant can then devote one or more paragraphs to detailing recommendations for each of them. Where hardware and alarm systems are needed, the consultant should either make general recommendations or specify the type or brand of equipment to install, depending on the original proposal.

The report should contain recommendations for internal operations and improving security (and where applicable, safety) of every phase. For example, in a community building used by different groups, some groups will use their own property while others will use property that belongs to the building. A report might recommend how building property can be identified so it will not be removed accidentally. Obviously, traditional methods common to all commercial and other organizations, such as marking, identifying, and securing equipment and property, should be spelled out.

If an organization does not have contingency plans in place, the report should contain recommendations for preparing such plans. Depending on the organization, contingency plans can range from simple (fire drills) to complex (responding to hostage situations) and everything in between (which usually includes responding to bomb threats).

Forms or checklists needed to carry out operational security procedures should also be included with the report. Recommendations should be made for the preparation of scenarios for various catastrophes, with delineation of how to disseminate information to employees and visitors in each event. Recommendations for training staff for different types of situations should be included. If an organization does not have regular and cooperative contact with local law enforcement agencies, a consultant should also spell out methods for developing these ties.

Where appropriate, recommendations s should be made concerning the protection of visiting dignitaries or controversial personages. Techniques for such operations are not widely known outside the security profession and cannot be easily reduced to a paragraph in a report. Therefore, the consultant may need to outline how the organization should seek such services if they become necessary.

Finally, a tabulation of the recommendations, broken down into at least three categories based on the estimated dollar value of each (no-cost or minimal cost, moderate cost, and expensive) is helpful. From this table, an organization can determine which recommendations to implement and at what pace, depending on availability of funds. Indicating page and paragraph numbers after each brief description in the table enables an organization to refer quickly to the full text where each recommendation is explained.

Obviously, no two situations are identical. What is included in a security survey depends on the needs of the organization as well as on the consultant's experience and skill. What is constant, however, is that every institution take precautions to preserve life and the property entrusted to its care.
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:hiring a security consultant
Author:Fruhauf, Henry
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1989
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