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Security selection far from cut and dry decision.

In the New York City real estate market selecting a quality security guard service is essential. Security Guards are typically the first person your tenants and their visitors encounter when entering your building, but that is just the start.

Your building's security personnel are not only there as polite and professional greeters, but also to prevent unauthorized people from entering your building and, in today's world, to ensure maximum preparedness to prevent crime, intentional violence and even a possible terrorist act.

Choosing the right security guard company is not always a clear-cut decision. There are many service providers--all of whom are not created equal. Owners/managers must weigh the cost of a competitively priced service provider versus a more costly provider who pays their staff a higher wage and offers a higher caliber better trained guard. Pay scale is an important consideration, but must be carefully analyzed. A building manager must ensure that if they're paying their guard service provider $22 per hour that the guards are getting properly compensated. Security Guard wages range widely from $9 per hour up to $18 per hour for security supervisors.

Some security firms have been criticized for underpaying and inadequately training their staff. In the words of one industry analyst, "It became about who can provide bodies at the least cost per hour."

As a result, many guards stay in the industry for only short stints: one report estimates the industry's annual turnover at between 200 and 600%. Better trained are typically better-paid guards who have higher job satisfaction and stay focused on jobs.

It is important to know that hiring a security contractor is a critical decision and not to be taken lightly. Different kinds of security guards are appropriate for different situations. The vast majority of New York City office buildings use unarmed security guards.

Unarmed security guards provide the same deterrent as armed guards without the risk of deadly force.

The protection afforded by unarmed guards is less expensive and may incur less liability and insurance. In many instances the security guard firm wears a uniform similar to a police officers in other cases they wear a blazer and slacks. The clothing worn can convey a strong signal to your building's visitors band tenants. The specific type of uniform (e.g., blazer for low profile duty vs. hard / police styled uniform for high visibility or criminal deterrent) will depend on the type of building, it's tenancy, location or assignment negotiated between the building and security guard contractor.

It is important to determine if hiring armed security guards meets your property's needs for complete security. It's important to understand that armed guards may utilize deadly force if it was needed.

There are specific training qualifications for security guards who carry firearms. It is critical that your building fully understand the contractor's policy on the use of weapons with regard to deadly force.

There are many important issues when hiring an armed security guard. Building owners must carefully consider whether their tenants will be comfortable with an armed guard on the premises.

Please note that special care should be taken if your institution serves many young people. Schools should be particularly concerned with the message an armed guard conveys to students, parents and staff. A building must carefully consider the cost effectiveness of an armed guard.

Armed guards are much more expensive than unarmed security, due to licensing and training requirements. Decide whether the presence of a weapon may escalate the possible use of force and violence which otherwise may not occur. Insurance can also be adversely affected by the presence of an armed guard.

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Comment:Security selection far from cut and dry decision.
Author:Lipstein, Evan
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 3, 2007
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