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Security in the park.

Security in the Park

IN 1987, A DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE report revealed that recreation workers were the most frequently injured victims of crime by occupation in the United States. Recently, the Fort Lauderdale, FL, Parks and Recreation Department conducted its own safety and security study and obtained results consistent with the federal findings.

The study included a survey of park patrons and staff about crime and the perception of crime at a major regional park. While only 6 percent of the park patrons surveyed said they had been victims of crime in the park in the previous two years, 36 percent of the staff said they had been victims of crime. Of those individuals who had been victims of crime, none of the park patrons were victims of violent crime, while 13 percent of staff had been threatened with physical harm involving a weapon.

In the past, the rangers had provided only limited training for nonsecurity employees of the Parks and Recreation Department. Every summer, recreation staff invited rangers to participate in a training session for summer recreation workers, where rangers talked about how to contact the police or how they could be contacted when workers needed help.

But on seeing the results of the survey, the city began training nonsecurity personnel in security, using a quality improvement program developed by the Florida Power and Light Company. Fort Lauderdale named its quality improvement program TEAM -- Together with Excellence to Achieve our Mission.

TEAMs consist of six to eight members with a trained facilitator and leader. They work on problems they identify, usually for one hour a week, on city time. The problem-solving process is a structured, seven-step program. The steps identify, quantify, and determine the root causes of a problem. Solutions are tested through a trial implementation and cost-benefit analysis. Finally, the solution is standardized throughout the workplace.

Of the first eight Parks and Recreation Department TEAMs, three selected problems relating to safety and security. Two of the three TEAMs chose to provide training in areas where they had enough knowledge to develop training modules themselves.

The first TEAM involved training staff about the importance of security lighting. Their training module provided general information and explained procedures for requesting additional lighting and maintaining existing lighting.

The second TEAM concentrated on adequate first aid kits in Parks and Recreation Department maintenance vehicles. They determined which vehicles needed kits and set up a process for making sure kits were put in vehicles and replenished when necessary.

The third TEAM required outside help with training recreation staff in first aid and general safety and security. They called on certified first aid instructors for first aid training and the park rangers for security training. The park rangers developed a training module with help from the police department crime prevention unit and crime prevention information that was readily available.

Work is underway to develop a newsletter, a new employee safety and security orientation program, and more specific modules for playground safety, special event safety, personal safety, and security and crime prevention through environmental design. The targeted trainee groups are all nonsecurity staff. The implementation and evaluation of these training programs were in progress at press time.

The future in Fort Lauderdale includes expanding the park safety and security study model to another regional park. Final implementation of the efforts of the three TEAMs requires approval and tracking. Additional TEAMs may identify future problems in safety and security. And park ranger and police department plans include a new TEAM to work on several law enforcement problems.

The benefits from a security training program for nonsecurity personnel should go beyond benefits for operations and security staff. They should translate into customer benefits from a safer business setting. Operations staff should be better able to concentrate on customer service issues and better able to assist security with its duties.

Organizations that don't have a strong internal training capability may want to study Training for Non-Trainers, A Do-It-Yourself Guide for Managers by Carolyn Nilson (AMACOM, 1990). This book examines training from a supervisory perspective. In addition to containing excellent training strategies, it includes an extensive list of professional associations with primary and secondary interests in training. It also contains professional materials that are specifically related to safety and security.

The first step to improvement is to show a genuine interest in the safety and security of staff. What are their security training needs? Have you ever asked them? Once you have determined their needs, you can develop an effective training program, implement it, and track its effectiveness.

The answer to security problems does not exist in any one work unit. In Fort Lauderdale, park rangers and police cannot meet park and recreation security needs alone. The answer to our problems is the TEAM.

PHOTO : TEAM -- Together with Excellence to Achieve our Mission -- is a problem-solving process that consists of a seven-step program. Here a park ranger supervisor addresses TEAM members.

Steven R. Sampier is assistant to the parks and recreation director for the City of Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Sampier, Steven R.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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