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What the future holds.

THE SECURITY INDUSTRY FACES A growing need for a fixed training curriculum, specifically for security recruits. Standardization and consistency are key factors in such a curriculum. These factors are particularly important when dealing with employees from varied geographic backgrounds with diverse skill levels. SpectaGuard, a contract security company in Wynnewood, PA, addressed these needs and decided to systematize training procedures with PRO-STEP, a computer-based training program it designed with Edge Technologies of Jersey City, NJ.

The program, which uses an IBM-compatible PC with high-resolution graphics, addresses training consistency issues. The program also provides a one-on-one security tutorial customized for the individual officer's learning capabilities. It is a self-paced, interactive, instructional program that educates the security recruit in about half the time and with twice the retention of traditional training programs.

PRO-STEP uses a computer, video display terminal, and keyboard as the primary education vehicles. It is structured as a day in the life of a security officer working for a hypothetical client. The program produces security officers with good judgment, which is developed through the scenario-based training.

The security officer of the nineties will depend on a greater recall of practices and standards used in his or her line of duty. Computer-based, interactive training yields higher retention rates than procedure-oriented personal training or video instruction. Trainees are asked to respond to questions displayed on the computer screen.

Unlike video training, a passive medium, this program requires trainees to interact and engage the program to make it advance. Also, an officer completes the same basic training whether in Wynnewood, PA, or Boston, MA. This systematized program guarantees consistently well-trained officers, a crucial component for a successful security force.

This computer-based training is also self-paced. The program tracks the length of learning time and instantly grades recruits. This benefit allows a company to hire the most skilled candidates.

The program's built-in quizzes also improve and document comprehension. Trainees cannot proceed out of important sections of the program without answering all questions correctly. One wrong answer causes the system to loop back to the beginning of the tutorial, and scores are automatically adjusted to reflect how many times an individual takes the test.

Companies that use personnel trained with PRO-STEP feel the training program makes security officers think on their feet prior to being on the job. Steve Chupa, CPP, security manager at McNeil Pharmaceutical, says, "I see real value in computer-trained security officers. PRO-STEP is a powerful learning base for their success.

"The package is interesting because the system really holds a person's attention," Chupa continues. "A first-time user is probably fascinated by the graphics." Chupa feels the program sharpens security officers' general skills. He builds on the computer-based training with additional site-specific training sessions for contract security officers.

COMPARED TO TRADITIONAL TRAINING sessions in which up to 40 trainees sit for six to eight hours with an instructor, computer-based training is low-pressure and individualized. Trainees interact with the program and are prompted with instructional information and color graphics. Program topics include legal powers and limits, patrol and access control, note taking and report writing, fire prevention and response, handling emergencies, dealing with the public, and defusing hostility.

PRO-STEP's scenario-based program works as follows. First, the video screen addresses the security trainee with a written message: "You are stationed at the front lobby for a fixed-post assignment. You check passes of all people entering and exiting the turnstiles. You notice, however, on the audiovisual monitor a small U-Haul truck pulling up to the loading dock. This type of truck is not only unusual but the two men who race to the loading platform do not look like they belong there."

Next, the program instructs the recruit in procedural protocol. This includes documenting the officer's response, notifying authorities about the incident, and writing an effective incident report. Trainees are advised that although they are on a fixed-post assignment, their patrol purpose is to deter and detect.

Throughout the training sessions, visual and conceptual commercial breaks encourage employees to do their best. The program also promotes an increase of knowledge in job-site automation. PRO-STEP was designed to ensure that trainees are computer-comfortable and can be instructed easily to work in automated job sites with systems such as computerized intrusion alarms, elevator systems, and "smart" buildings.

To date, a single-blind assessment of PRO-STEP has been conducted. In this validation study, a stratified, random sampling technique was used. It correlated scores from this program with on-the-job performance evaluations. The results indicated that quiz performance was effective at detecting poor on-the-job performance. The test also identified optimum performers within specific score cells.

PRO-STEP's second phase, which will concentrate on developing environment-specific skills, will be implemented soon. This training will prepare officers for the work force through simulations of site-specific conditions.

For example, a security officer at a high rise has particular duties and must be trained with different considerations than an officer at a manufacturing plant or a warehouse. This program will customize learning even further by training recruits who will be working in varying environments.

James M. Walters, PhD, is vice president of quality assurance and training for Spectaguard in Wynnewood, PA.

PHOTO : A computer-based program can provide a one-on-one security tutorial customized to an officer.
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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Title Annotation:Special Seminar Issue; standardization of training procedures for security personnel
Author:Walters, James M.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:Where professionalism begins.
Next Article:Hot Line to preventing crime.

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