Man pointing to a sign that says property management.

4 Highly Effective Measure for Property Managers to Improve Safety in Their Parking Lots

Improving safety on commercial, residential and retail property is a top priority of Property Managers. However, many struggle with how to implement the strategies necessary to accomplish this goal.  Over the past decade I’ve had the privilege to provide security services for many commercial, residential and retail properties. Fortunately, I have gained a lot of experience, which I have found to be useful in helping property managers to increase safety and reduce liability. Especially in hospitals, office buildings, shopping centers, and apartment communities.   

Most properties with security concerns have 2 things in common; they have parking lots, and they have contracted security companies to protect them.  Hence, in order to effectively improve safety on these properties, not only must the properties themselves be improved, but the security provider protecting them must also be improved. In this article, I’m going to speak about 4 of the most critical security measures in Property Management that often are not addressed adequately or not addressed at all.  However, before discussing the measures, I want to add that it is critical for Property Managers to begin the process by:

  • Conducting regular security assessments on their properties. This is recommended at least once a year, and sometimes more often depending on recent crime on and near your property and recent crime trends on the type of property that you manage.
  • Drafting a clear and concise Scope of Work (SOW) to potential security companies that encompass the recommendations from this article when issuing Request for Proposals (RFP’s) or Invitations for Bid (IFB’s).
  • Thoroughly vetting at least 3 security companies before settling on one and ensuring the selected company has the capacity and leadership to carry out the work as you have written.
  • Requiring the selected security company to write Post Orders that comply with your SOW and insist that the company trains all of its security officers to be in full compliance at all times.

Once the above measures have been undertaken, the following 4 Highly Effective security measures will improve safety and decrease liability on the properties that you manage. 

1.Traffic control in the parking lot – Patrons, guests, and tenants who frequent commercial, residential and retail property are 100 times more likely to be struck by a vehicle than they are to be victimized by crime in parking lots. Despite these statistics parking lot signage and traffic control measures often fall to the bottom of the list of things to be addressed by Property Managers. Likewise, many security companies also fail to make reporting issues with traffic control a part of their overall security strategy.  The Property Manager who truly wants to improve safety and reduce liability on their property must prioritize traffic control issues.

Shopping center with faded crosswalk and traffic signs

These faded crosswalks and turn signs increase property management liability.

The first step in accomplishing this is to mandate in the Scope of Work (SOW) that your security provider is responsible for reporting all traffic control hazards and that the responsibility to do so is incorporated into their post orders. Common hazards that should be reported include: overgrown trees and shrubs which obstruct the view of oncoming traffic;  Potholes, as vehicles may encounter a pedestrian while swerving to avoid them; damaged sidewalks which force pedestrians into lanes of traffic; and damaged or faded traffic control signs, e.g., crosswalks, fire lanes, yield signs, stop signs, parking lines, directional signs, etc.

Car riding over a black and yellow rubber speed bump

Traffic Calming speed bumps increase safety and decrease liability.

The second step is to ensure that you, the Property Manager, are willing to correct the reported deficiencies within a reasonable amount of time – 72 hours is usually adequate.  Traffic control recommendations that significantly improve safety, and reduce liability include speed bumps, pedestrian crossing signs, re-painting or re-striping and traffic control signs, e.g., crosswalks, stop, yield, speed, fire lane and etc. These items can be budgeted annually and purchased online fairly easily at sites like U-Line. As a best practice, annual repainting is highly recommended around the same time each year, as parking lot paint is only good for about a year.  Reflective marking tape is a more durable alternative to annual repainting*.  With pricing starting as low as $44.00 per 150 feet of tape, it is possible to save tons of money as reflective parking tape can be good for up to three years.

*The durability of all parking lot striping is determined by the volume of traffic on the lot.

2. Lighting – My security company was once contracted by a Property Manager who refused to repair lights on their Property despite that our officers reported the problem to them over SEVEN HUNDRED times in one year.   Needless to say, although my security officers understood their accountability, the Property Manager did not.  Therefore, due to the lack of action to address and correct the multiple safety and liability concerns reported by our team, I made the decision to sever ties with the aforementioned Property Manager.

A non functioning light on a building

Uncorrected lighting issues increases liability for property managers.

  • Defective or inadequate lighting is another danger regularly seen on some properties. Lighting standards are regulated by both OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute); however, Property Managers are responsible for maintaining their own check and balance systems.  Without a proactive system to ensure that lighting remains functional many properties find themselves, literally, in the dark.  Some property’s lights go unfixed for months, even years, without being addressed.
  • Good lighting is key to decreasing your liability on commercial and residential property, therefore it is important that Property Managers act quickly to repair lights that have been reported as non-functional. The key is to have proactive quality control procedures that involve security officers, maintenance staff, employees, and tenants.  The security officers and maintenance staff should be responsible for inspecting lighting issues daily and ensuring that they are reported in writing by the end of each shift.  In addition, the tenants and employees should be encouraged to report lighting issues and have an easily accessible system in place to do so.
  • To further reduce liability and increase safety, Property Managers should ensure that all lighting issues are repaired within 24 hours of being notified, or within a reasonable amount of time to order the parts necessary to remedy the problem…normally no longer than 72 hours.  Performing proactive lighting inspections will not only protect your tenants, employees and guests, it will also protect the Property Management company and the Owners against Premise Security Liability lawsuits in the unfortunate case in which someone becomes the victim of a crime on their property.
Parking lot at night light with LED light post.

LED lighting effectively increases safety on parking lots

  • To improve lighting, I have found LED lighting to be highly effective for both buildings and parking lots. It’s like night and day (pun intended) compared to traditional lighting. Hubbell Lighting Company, a Virginia-based company, has great before and after pictures and video that show the improvements gained through using LED lighting. Be sure to visit their site to see how LED lighting might work to improve safety on your property and at the same time save you thousands of dollars in operating and maintenance cost.

 

3. Cameras and CCTV – The power of CCTV is often misunderstood and underutilized. CCTV is a worthy ally to increase safety on any property. Analog cameras are old news but new HD cameras provide an additional layer of security and aids law enforcement and security officers with crystal clear images that bolster their efforts to protect others.  Property Managers, citizens, security and Police Officers benefit in 2 ways:

  1. By capturing incidents, crimes, suspect, and vehicle information.
  2. By acting as a deterrent against crime. The last thing that perpetrators want is to be caught, and the presence of CCTV cameras highly increases the chance that they will. If cameras are present, most perpetrators find an easier target to reduce the chance of being caught.
A globe CCTV camera with a building in the background

CCTV cameras are highly effective at deterring crime

While CCTV systems can be a big hit to your budget, not having them can be an even bigger hit according to Free Legal Advice’s website.  Legal Advice confirms what most security experts already know.  Property Managers have a “Duty to Provide” adequate security provisions for the properties they manage.  Legal Advice writes, “If you have been attacked or made a victim of a crime in the parking lot of a business or housing complex, you may be able to pursue a legal claim against the owners/operators of the lot for negligent security.”  Further, “Commercial Property owners do not have to guarantee the safety of everyone who enters the Property; however, they must respond appropriately to foreseeable risks.” Therefore “Foreseeable Risk” is the standard that Property Managers are judged by. Foreseeable Risk may involve areas of high crime, or patterns of crime occurring on or near the property of which the Property Manager was or should have been aware.  CCTV is not the complete answer, but it can be a line of defense for Property Managers and Owners who find themselves in litigation.

4. Cleanliness of the property – In the security and law enforcement profession there is a theory called “The Broken Window Theory.”  The theory has its roots in CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design). In a nutshell, the Broken Window theory was developed around inner city urban environments but can be utilized to improve the security in any environment. The theory uses broken windows as a metaphor for disorder in communities. Its goal is to maintain and monitor environments to prevent petty crime such as vandalism, public drinking, loitering, littering, etc., to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crime.  Most Property Managers are consistent in keeping their properties clean.  However, if this detail has been ignored on your properties, it is imperative to the safety of the people who frequent them that your team makes keeping them clean and beautified a priority. Additionally, your security officers should be empowered by you to bar violators for loitering, littering, disturbing the peace and vending without a license on your property.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and congratulations on taking the first steps to address some of the security concerns that you may struggle with while managing your commercial, residential and retail properties.  As you can see, there are ways to implement the strategies necessary to improve safety.  These tried and true methods are the result of more than a decade of experience of applying it to successfully protect properties just like those that you manage.  It is our hope my hope that this information will help you create safer environments for the patrons, guests, and tenants who frequent your properties.

Feel free to contact me if you manage property in the Washington, D.C area and think that a free Risk Assessment could benefit you and your tenants.

 

This article was written by Melvin Key, SR (CPP). Melvin is a retired DC Police Captain and the CEO and owner of MVP Protective Services, LLC which has been providing security services to Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia for over 12 years.  Board certified in Security Management – ASIS

For questions or more information, Mr. Key may be reached at ceo@mvpprotectiveservices.com. You may also find him on Twitter: @Security_Guy_DC 

 

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Holiday Shopping Safety tips shows a woman walks in Metropolitan area with a lot of shopping bags.

Tips from MVP on how to be safe while holiday shopping.

September 24, 2016

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips (That Everyone Should Know). As you head out to crush Black Friday Sales the experts at MVP recommend:

1. First, shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

2. Park in a well-lit space or close as possible to the building.

3. Never use remote car finders, starters or door openers until you are close enough to get into your car. While convenient, when used these finders also lets the bad guys know where your car is and that you’re coming their way.

4. Have your keys in your hand and ready to use before you exit or enter any building. This way you can get in your car or home fast in an case of an emergency. Keys also can be used as a weapon to defend yourself.

5. Always back your car in when parking (Combat Parking). It makes for a quick escape when in trouble.

6. Avoid overloading yourself with packages. Doing so prevents you from defending yourself if attacked.

Safety tips from MVP Protective Services, a Washington, DC based Security company. This photo shows a woman walking through a parking lot with a suspect following.

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips for citizens provided by MVP Protective Services

7. Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.

8. Walk confidently and don’t be afraid to make eye contact with a person you feel uncomfortable with. Attackers prey on those who appear weak and who are not alert.

9. Carry less cash as possible. Pay with a check or credit card when possible.

10. Pay close attention to your surroundings and stay off of your cell-phone until you get into your car or destination safely.

11. If attacked fight back, make much noise, activate the panic button on your car remote and refuse to be taken from one place to another.

12. If a robber just wants your property, give it to them. It’s senseless to die or get injured over material things.

13. Finally, always trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Run as quickly as possible to safety and notify security of law enforcement.Carry the least amount of cash possible.

Thanks for reading Holiday Shopping Safety Tips. I hope that it helps you this helps you this holiday season.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season

Article written by Melvin E. Key, Sr. CPP – Mr. Key is a the CEO of MVP Protective Services, an expert in retail security services and a retired Washington, DC Police Captain.

Tightening Security After Brussels

Security_DC_MD

To us security in America is a big deal. The recent attacks in Brussels show just how easy it is for terrorist to attack “soft targets” We believe that the United States has the most proactive security measures and federal investigative efforts in the world, but as these attacks occur more frequently we have to look to contract security to step up our game.

Recent news of bomb making materials found in a dorm room at George Mason University  has brought some attention to the fight that local law enforcement and security contractors face. While that incident remains under investigation by the federal authorities it has spurred our focus on increasing security measures at contracts with our clients.  The increasing attacks has also challenged us to foster open talks with other locals security companies to share best practices and better educate security staff on terrorism, heightened observations, patrol techniques and workplace violence prevention.

In effect all of MVP guards are in the process of being certified by the Federal Government in Incident Command and Response. We’re revisiting the latest workplace violence and terror attacks to see how or if they could have been prevented from a security perspective.  The MVP management team spearheaded a committee that is working with other Security Industry professionals on ways to enhance security at all sporting arenas, conference centers and large outdoor events to reduce the possibility for these types of catastrophes from occurring. We’ve also tightened the security measures at our contract locations by placing a direct focus on monitoring access and regress points of all facilities, improving lighting where necessary, training our clients on what to to look for, and improving our CCTV monitoring regulations.  We’re even looking to FBI and their Facial Recognition Program to see how it will impact the security industry as a whole.

With contract security guarding 85% of America’s infrastructure is important for us to be proactive and progressive with how we do security. Doing so increases our chances of thwarting attacks and reduces or mitigates the impact of attacks should they be carried out on our watch.

In a nutshell, it’s time to tighten up.  What are your thoughts?

 

Melvin Key, CEO – MVP Protective Services

Melvin is a highly sought after Security Executive, A 18 year decorated retired Police Captain from the DC Police Department. An committee member for Emergency Preparedness with BOMA. He is also a board Certified Protection Professional (CPP),  a noted public speaker and the Chair of Chapter Development for ASIS – National Capital Chapter.  Melvin has been the CEO of MVP for over 11 years with an impeccable relationship with hundreds of corporate and Fortune 500 companies.

 

 

 

Use of Force in Security

Seattle Police Use of Force to calm a riot.

Seattle Police using force to calm a riot.

With the growing number of Use of Force incidents between police and citizens, one would wonder how these confrontations play out between citizens and private security officers.  I can assure you that these confrontations are more common than you think. Security officers risk confrontations with citizens at a much higher rate for two reasons.  First, security officers in the United States outnumber police by more than 3 to 1, making it much more likely for them to interact with people.  Secondly, security officers face more physical confrontations when challenging people on security issues because people disregard them as authoritative figures.   The high probability of use of force incidents for security officers highlights the need for regular “Use of Force” training.

Upfront security training cost can be overwhelming for many small security companies, so some skip it altogether and pray for the best.  However injuries, lawsuits and even death are a very real part of the security profession. The cost in legal fees, court awards, settlements and public relations for even the smallest security incident can be astronomical. And the best remedy is a well written “Use of Force” policy and training program to mitigate damages and protect all parties involved.

What you should know about the Use of Force 

Experts agree that there is no single definition for the use of force.  “Use of Force” is best described by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as “the amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject.” Experts also agree that the force used should be the “minimum amount” of force necessary to get the subject to comply.

Security officers are sometimes strapped to the teeth with weapons and equipment. However, throughout my 30 years of law enforcement and security management I have learned that the most reliable and effective weapon a security officer can have is between his/her 2 ears.  Therefore, I recommend that security officers learn to rely on all their natural senses (ears, eyes, and nose) when responding to potentially volatile situations. Those senses have saved my life a million times and when used correctly can save your life and the lives of others as well.

When approaching a suspicious suspect security officers should first use their sense of vision, being sure to watch the suspects’ actions, movements and hands. Officers should use their sense of smell to detect the possible use of chemicals, drugs or alcohol and should be listening to what the suspect is saying or what others may be saying about him/her. Using your senses, experience and intuition can give vital clues of what a person may be thinking, if they may be influenced by some type of drugs, their mind state and if they may be armed.  Once officers can diagnose the scene to his/her satisfaction, I recommend approaching in manner and direction that offers them the greatest protection.

The 5 standard best practices for “Use of Force” consist of the following

  1. Officer Presence — Is the very first level in the Use of Force continuum.  No force is used and is considered the best way to resolve a situation. I regularly share with my security officers the importance of presence.  Not in a sense of just showing up but more on how they show up. A professional presence does a lot in situations that demand control.  I believe that taking pride in your uniform and appearance is key.  A confident, well-groomed officer with a neat uniform and shined shoes often does the trick. We’ve all have seen the officer on the opposite end of the spectrum. We also know that that no one is going to take a security officer serious, if he/she doesn’t take themselves serious. With officer presence:
  • The mere presence of a officer works to deter crime or diffuse a situation.
  • Officers’ attitudes should be professional and nonthreatening.

2. Verbalization — I was once told that words were magic. Saying the right thing at the right time and in the right manner can talk a man off of a building and saying the wrong thing can make him jump. With verbalization, the security officer must use judgement and empathy.  A good way to calm an angry subject is with a simple greeting that explains your purpose for the encounter. For example, “Hello sir or ma’am. I am officer “John Black” (or whatever your name is), I am responding to a call to investigate… (Whatever you got called for). Done professionally this often calms many angry people down. The use of empathy here goes a long way.  The alternative method is bound to cause you some problems. For example, “Sir, we’ve received 15 calls regarding you, what seems to be your problem?”  If the ingredients are right whatever his problem was, will now more than likely be your problem too.  Remember, tact and judgement is always best, your verbalization should progress according to the situation.  Many situations will call for firm authoritative verbal commands from the beginning. Never be afraid to be forceful and assertive when you have to.  According to the Use of Force Continuum the following should occur when using verbalization:

  • Issue calm, nonthreatening commands, such as “Hello sir, May I see your identification and registration
  • Officers may increase their volume and shorten commands in an attempt to gain compliance.
  • Short commands might include “Stop,” or “Don’t move.”

3. Empty-Hand Control — This is the third level of  “Use of Force” in the continuum. If you find yourself here, the first 2 steps may have not worked out as you planned but good officers are always well prepared and well trained. At this level security officers use bodily force to gain control of a situation. There are 2 techniques that gives officers the advantage and I highly recommend their use.

    • Soft technique. Officers use grabs, holds and joint locks to restrain an individual. It should be noted that Chokeholds of any kind should be avoided at all cost. Unless of course your life is in jeopardy, then lethal force including a chokehold would be authorized. However, I caution you that should the suspect die as a result of  your use of a chokehold you or your witnesses must be able to clearly articulate that your life was in imminent danger. Failure to do so may end you up in jail for a long time.
    • Hard technique. Officers use punches and kicks to restrain an individual.

4. Less-Lethal Methods — This level of force is necessary when the first 3 didn’t do the trick.  Officers must be ready to go the next level to protect themselves and others from imminent bodily harm or death.  Officers may use less-lethal technologies to gain control of a situation. A few of the standard less lethal weapons are listed below:

  • Blunt impact. Officers may use a baton or projectile to immobilize a combative person.
  • Chemical. Officers may use chemical sprays or projectiles embedded with chemicals to restrain an individual (e.g., pepper spray). Remember to NEVER use OC spray inside of a closed building and be prepared to provide 1st aid after its use.
  • Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs). Officers may use CEDs to immobilize an individual. CEDs discharge a high-voltage, low-amperage jolt of electricity at a distance. (See Deciding When and How to Use Less-Lethal Devices. )

5. Lethal Force — The last level of use of force involves the use of lethal weapons (firearms) to gain control of a situation. Lethal force should only be used if a suspect poses a serious threat to the officer or another individual.

    • The national accepted law is – lethal force may be used to protect yourself or another from death or imminent serious bodily injury.
    • Officers don’t have to meet force on force (i.e a person has a baseball, a baton isn’t the appropriate weapon). In such an instance it would be much better to first to create some distance between you and the threat, seek cover and scale to your firearm to defend yourself.  The determination if lethal force will be used then depends on the action of the suspect.
    • When using the lethal force officers should remember to aim at center mass of the body, be sure of your target and what’s beyond and be prepared to give medical attention after such force is used.

It should be noted that Use of force does not have to start on the 1st level or progress through every step of the continuum.  Many use of force incidents are split second life or death decisions. Officers must be able to gauge the severity of each situation and apply the level of force in the continuum either comparable to the suspects actions and demeanor or one higher.  Officers can also de-escalate the use of force scale by utilizing negotiating skills (verbal judo).  There is no magic formula for security officers but the key is to be reasonable in  the decision making if the force is to be just.

That’s all I have until next time.  Look for more informative and exciting post from me.  Take care and be safe.

 

Melvin Key – CEO

Certified Protection Professional

MVP Protective Services

 

5 Reasons Your Business Should Have an Information Protection Policy

information-security

Information is the lifeblood of all businesses, but many business owners and high level managers often overlook the security of their business information to focus on what they consider more important; “the generation of revenue.” Many even know the risk well in advance but take on the mentality, “It will never happen to us.” Then the inevitable happens.

Experience has proven that the disregard for the protection of business information is disastrous.  The smallest vulnerability in a business’s Information Security System (ISS) can and does cause businesses thousands, even millions of dollars in financial loss everyday.  Experts have found that in the majority of the cases involving “loss” from the theft of information that the business owner(s) or managers were aware that potential breaches existed and did nothing to correct the issue. Experts also point out that in 99% of the cases that the cost to fix the breach would have been thousands to millions of dollars cheaper then the loss the business sustained from the breach itself.

According to “Trends in Proprietary Loss” (ASIS International, 2007) these are the top 5 reasons businesses of all sizes should have an active and progressive Information Security System (ISS) and Information Security Management System (ISMS) in place.

  • Loss of reputation/image/goodwill –  Taking a hit in the pocket could be bad but not as half as bad as taking a hit to your reputation. Many business can rebound from loss of revenue but repairing your business reputation can cost astronomical time, effort and money. The implications are overwhelming in most cases.
  • Loss of competitive advantage in one product/service – When you have been working feverishly to stay ahead of the game but your competitor beats you to the finish line every time, “there’s a hole in your boat.”  The leaking of trade secrets, product delivery timelines and other business processes can completely derail a business and destroy its competitive advantage.”  In 2006 Coca-Cola experienced a case of information theft that later resulted in the arrest of administrative assistant who conspired to sell trade secrets to Pepsi for 1.5 million dollars.  See the full case here.
  • Reduced of projected/anticipated returns or profitability 
  • Loss of core business technology or process – For example the patent war between Apple and Samsung regarding the Iphone and Galaxy mobile phones and tablets. This resulted in extensive litigation in fierce competition in the global market for consumer mobile communications. By August 2011, Apple and Samsung were litigating 19 ongoing cases in nine countries; by October, the legal disputes expanded to ten countries. By July 2012, the two companies were still embroiled in more than 50 lawsuits around the globe, with billions of dollars in damages claimed between them. Read more about the case.
  • Loss of competitive advantage in multiple products/services 

All of the above are sound reasons while your business should have an information security policy and a way to manage it.  I am of the opinion that any business that regularly loses money and fails to implement processes to stop it,will soon be out of business.  Therefore, I encourage all business managers, executives and owners to take the protection of their information seriously.  Make time to review your current information security processes and policy with your security manager. Listen to his/her concerns and recommendations.  After all that is what you hired him/her for.  Concentrate on making your security a “Necessary good” instead of a “Necessary evil” and dedicate a reasonable but flexible budget to immediately address new or unexpected security threats. It could truly save you a life of headaches, court battles and money in the end.

Below are a few recommendations that I believe will help any business to begin improving their information security process. It will also help to improve overall security in general.

Recommendations

  • Ensure that sensitive information is only accessible to a small group of people based on a need to know basis. This information is to be kept in a secure area with progressive and redundant security measures.
  • The first level of security can be posted signage that designates the level of authorization required to be in specific areas. These signs should also advise the consequences for ignoring them.
  • The second level of security may include CCTV cameras which are manned or unmanned (but have the ability to be reviewed later). Cameras serve as a good method to detect, deter and in some cases respond to nefarious behavior.
  • The third level of security  mandates designated key cards or key fobs to enter restricted areas.  This authorization can also be indicated by color coded ID badges. A security checkpoint guarded by trained security officers is also an option.
  • The fourth level of security concerns areas where the most sensitive information is held.  This area should include CCTV cameras, locked file cabinets and safes.  This should be supported by a well written Information Protection Policy created in partnership with an experienced security professional and it should be strictly adhered to.
  • Lastly, a schedule for audit and compliance should be instituted and a designated person appointed the responsibility for its oversight. This recommendation has more to do with Information Security Management, which I will discuss in a later topic.

General Information Security Practices

The preceding concerned security strategies for highly sensitive information however, we must not overlook the need for the security of general business information. Information comes in many forms and businesses must protect them all.  Here are a few more tips that I recommend to improve your current Information Security Policy:

  • Ensure that all documents that contain personal, personnel and company information are always kept secure. This information should never be left lying around on someone’s desk or in their inbox. Always keep this type of information under lock and key and designate a person to ensure strict accountability.
  • Ensure that you have a information security policy in place and share it with your entire staff.  This policy should include how to file or discard company information.
  • Ensure that your company has a shredder and include shredding regulations (what should be shredded, when and by whom) into your policy.
  • Always ensure that someone in your organization stays abreast of current cyber threats. This person is normally the head of the IT department or your security manager.  He/she should also ensure that your anti-virus and firewall systems are regularly updated and tested. If your company does not have a dedicated IT department of manager it wouldn’t hurt to consult with an IT Security firm to get a check-up.
  • Ensure that your Information Protection policy includes regulations pertaining to thumb drives and portable hard drives. The policy should clearly state what information can be saved or uploaded from and to the devices.  Also consult with your IT department to disable the USB ports on your computers and networks if necessary.
  • Finally, every business should have a Non-Disclosure Agreement.  NDAs set the expectations for your employees as it pertains to the privacy of your business affairs, processes and materials.  It also provides the recourse for violating the policy.  Sample NDAs can be found on the web, but I recommend consulting with your attorney to ensure that your NDA provides you and your business optimum protection.

That about sums it up. I believe that by implementing these strategies that every business can improve the protection of their information and reduce the chances of suffering financial loss. In many cases you may even increase your profitability, which is why we are all in business anyway.  I hope that you found this information valuable. Never underestimate what a solid Information Security Program can do for you.

Thanks for reading and  I hope that these quick security tips help to kick start or rekindle your Information Security Program.

Author: Melvin E. Key, CPP

CEO, MVP Protective Services

Contact: Security_guru@mvpprotectiveservices.com

 

10 Surefire tips to Hire A Good Security Company

MVP Security Officers providing hotel security

If you ask 10 people who carries the bulk of the responsibility for protecting America’s homeland 8 out of 10 of them would probably blurt out “Police.” While the police do an excellent job protecting our citizens, security officers often go as the unsung heroes!  According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the private security industry is responsible for protecting more than 85% of the nation’s critical infrastructure. In most cases security officers outnumber police officers 2 to 1.  According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial fund there are approximately 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers and federal agents.  According to a report prepared by ASIS (American Society for Industrial Security) there are nearly 2 million full-time security workers in the United States.  Experts expect this number to increase by 21% percent through 2020.  To add to these staggering numbers there are thousands of private security firms in the US and new companies are popping up everyday.

With so many security companies to choose from it is important to use careful consideration when selecting a security provider. Choosing the right security firm not only protects your property and your people, it helps to protect your business in cases of litigation (Which can save you tons of money down the line). Choosing the right security firm also can protect your business reputation, which can be severely damaged by even the smallest security incident. History has proven that trying to rebound from an embarrassing security incident can be a very challenging and expensive task.

So let’s go through my 10 Surefire tips to hire a reputable security firm to address your security needs.  The first step in the process starts with doing a google search for security companies in the area or checking with the venue where you will be holding your event. Oftentimes they will have a vendors list.  Next you should send out RFP’s (Request for Proposals) which are formal or RFQ’s (Request for Quotes) which are informal.  Whichever, method you choose should include the vetting of a least 3 vendors. Once you gather the vendors’ information follow my 10 Surefire best practices and you will be well on your way to selecting the best vendor for your job:

  • Vet the prospects’ security experience (with a special focus on the projects similar to yours)
  • Review the prospects’ years in business, past clientele and past performance. Don’t get all excited because the prospect drops a big name (Having a big name client is one thing, but doing a shabby job at it is another).
  • Visit each prospect’s website paying special attention to content, ease of navigation, services and especially the “About Us” sections. Lack of information in a prospect’s “About Us” section should be a sign, “Buyer Beware.”
  • Request information about Professional Associations in which the company and management team are affiliated. Companies who are serious about what they do will usually be associated with associations such as ASIS, ISMA (INTERNATIONAL SECURITY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION), or IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police).  Board certifications such as the ASIS- PSP (Physical Security Professional), CPP (Certified Protection Professional and the PSI (Professional Certified Investigator are definitely a plus.
  • Request and review each prospect’s executive leadership and management experience.  Proven years in police or security “management”  is always a good sign.
  • Review the prospects’ social media presence to include content, reviews, followers and engagement with current security issues (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Request and review the prospects’ marketing material to include brochures, capability statements, etc.
  • Request and review the prospects’ insurance levels ( 1 million in General Liability is normally sufficient)
  • Inquire about guard training. A good training program should include (observation, report writing, use of force, effective communication, incident management, tort law, arrest law, criminal law, constitutional law, bomb identification and evacuation) and;
  • Consider pricing

Have you noticed that pricing was the last thing on this list? That wasn’t done by mistake.  Pricing is the poisonous apple of doing business with a security firm. Yet, it is oftentimes the first thing that those looking to hire a company considers; sometimes it’s the only thing.  While I understand that the bottom line drives many business decisions, I caution that when the poisonous apple is bitten, it often bites back.  Choosing a security firm based on the lowest price often costs businesses major losses in finances from lawsuits and crime and even more in frustration from complaints of absenteeism and unprofessional and unethical conduct.  Therefore, I strongly recommend against using the lowest responsible bidder process altogether.  Instead, I suggest using the above tips to find the best fit for the job at hand.  More often the difference between the highest bidder and the lowest bidders is usually only a couple hundreds of dollars and to me it’s well worth the money.

My father always told me that it was best to spend adequate money on quality things in the beginning rather than spending more money to replace the bargain products in the end.  In other words he would say, “You either pay the cost or you pay the price.”  In my experience paying the price is almost always more than the cost.  My father is a wise man and I’ve benefited greatly from his advice, so I felt it important to share some of his wisdom you all.

Thanks for reading. For more information please feel free to contact me at security_guru@mvpprotectiveservices.com

 

Written by Melvin E. Key, CPP

CEO, MVP Protective Services

 

Skills and Training a Security Officer Must Have

A security guard most of the time is hired for contingencies, which means he is protecting property from vandalism or theft. The client is minimizing the risk to his property by hiring a private security guard. That in turn means that there is a definite risk involved with being a security guard. Therefore security guards should be well prepared and trained, because they might be making life and death decisions for businesses, private persons and public in general.

The most important skills a security officer must possess are to observe and report. It sounds simple enough, but if one has worked in the security industry he knows that it is not that simple. Security officers must be extremely observant and detailed oriented. Most of the information clients require is important and make the difference. For example I provided a security consultation for a clothing manufacturing warehouse. Their most important assets they needed to protect were the designs of clothes. In the security plan and post orders I explicitly asked security officers not to let anybody leave the building with paperwork unless they had a valid employee identification card and a permission slip from the vice president.

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A designer was fired some time later and decided to come back to his office and take the designs he had worked on with him. The security officer at the entrance let him pass, because he knew him. He was stopped on his way out, because he was carrying a big stack of papers. The designer asked the security to let him leave stating the fact that he was coming and going through that gate every day. The security officer showed him his post orders and asked him to stay put. After he called his supervisor and the vice president they took back the designs. Observation skills and attention to detail, the skill to follow orders helped save the client thousands of dollars.

Often security guards possess the skill of observing through experience or common sense, but they lack the proper reporting skills. The do not record all required information or fail to file the appropriate report. Daily activity reports, incident reports and access control logs are important tools security guards use. They record pertinent information that clients use to control access and to protect their merchandise. As an example if an employee of a warehouse enters after hours and the security guard does not record his information, nothing stops the employee from taking anything he wants. There will be no record of him ever being there without the proper report being filled out.

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I have seen many supervisors training security guards at their posts and they simply tell them your job is to observe and report. That is not enough! Security officers should be told what they should be looking for, what the risk factors are. They should be told what reports to file and what information to record. It is amazing how much difference one hour of good initial training will make.



Source by Charles S Willis

To Guard Or Not To Guard: The Debate on School Security

How to best protect children has been a lifelong concern for parents since the dawn of time. Yet, today, safety at schools unfortunately stands at the forefront of those fears ever since the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut occurred in December 2012. Once considered almost untouchable sanctuaries of learning, schools across the country now find themselves among an evolving world where almost nothing seems as safe as it once was.

A recent Associated Press article titled “Trained police needed for school security” purported that the debate on school security originally hinged on whether or not to have a police officer present on campus in any capacity. Now, the debate includes whether anyone (hired guard, officer or employee) should be allowed to carry weapons on school property, and whether that armed ‘guard’ must be a law enforcement official, volunteer or security guard.

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Adding fuel to the debate, the National Rifle Association recently called for trained, armed volunteers to be present at every school in the nation. Regardless of which stance a person may take on any part of this issue, the simple fact remains that a person, trained or untrained, armed or unarmed, who is solely dedicated to the safety of the school grounds will do more to prevent an incident than not having one at all. If that seems like an oversimplification, it is.

The debate concerning a ‘guard’ tends to progress into an all or nothing scenario. At which point, the duty of protection may be assigned to a faculty or staff member for reasons of budget or fear of backlash. The truth is, a person with another primary function, such as a teacher or principal, cannot consistently devote the necessary attention to keep an area safe while also doing their main job satisfactorily. On the other hand, a guard who has created a working safety relationship with the people and environment he or she is protecting allows those being protected to remain calmer and focused on education, not security.

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While it is unfortunate to say, today’s educational institutions must prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. It is the only way to help reduce the risk of an incident becoming yet another tragedy. Yet the simple truth remains that a guard dedicated to the security of an area remains an active deterrent to security breeches and can be used efficiently and effectively with the aforementioned options.

There is no greater ‘asset’ we can safeguard than our children’s safety. And nothing should stop us all from doing that to the absolute best of our abilities.



Source by Ray Cavanagh

10 Reasons Why You Should Install A Security System

In the state of affairs the world is in, it’s no wonder that more and more people are installing home security systems and there are many that one can choose from that includes the usual numeric pad security system or camera security systems. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should install a home security system:

1. Effectiveness: Home security systems currently marketed are a highly effective crime deterrent. When a potential intrude attempts entry into the home an alarm, incredibly piercing and loud, will sound. This is an attempt to scare the would-be thief away. The security system despite frightening the intruder is also meant to get the attention of your neighbors in the hope that will call the police to respond. Many home security systems today come with built-in home monitoring which automatically alerts your police department. Utilizing a camera security system with monitoring allows you to gather irrefutable evidence against the intruder.

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2. Home Break-Ins: Surveillance Systems often give you nearly 100% safety when a home break-in would occur. The criminal will usually skip your home when seeing the sign or window logo of the home security or camera security system you have. If they still are bold enough to enter then the police will quickly come.

3. Ease to Use: The home security systems of today are incredibly simple to use. You merely have to enter a rather short numerical code that you can use to activate or deactivate your security system. This simple addition relieves the stress you may have of accidentally setting the security system off when leaving or entering the areas to which your home security system is set up to monitor.

4. Rapid Response: when you purchase a home security system, be it a camera security system or not, if it has monitoring then information is instantly transmitted to the police and fire department (depending on which home security system package you purchased) If your home security system comes with monitoring, information is transmitted to the police and even fire department and rescue squad within seconds of the incident. Because everything works via high-powered computer system, the transfer of information is immediate.

5. Customer Service: The companies that provide security system options are highly trained and very professional. They can assist you in every aspect of operating your security system. Most of the time a solutions specialist will come directly to your home to install the home security system for you and then instruct you on its proper use and function.

6. Affordability: With the myriad of benefits that a home security system offers one would think it to be quite expensive. You can have an effective security system installed at a reasonable price, usually for as little as $99 with a small monthly fee to maintain the home security service.

7. Choice: There are an incredible (and still growing) amount of providers for home security systems. Brinks as well as ADT are two of the biggest names in the industry. As far as security systems go they offer tops in quality and service.

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8. Insurance: When purchasing a home security system your insurance provider often gives a discount on your insurance premiums. Camera security systems can decrease your premiums even further.

9. Peace of Mind: Nothing else can match the peace of mind you’ll feel when you have a home security system helping you to protect your family.

10. Safety: Your family will feel more secure and safe in your home when you have a security system.

No matter the reason why you seek out a home security system it’s an important step in securing your family from harm.



Source by Rob Hargreaves

Security Guards at Hospitals

Security guards at hospitals are essential for many different reasons. Access control, security of controlled substances, the security of newborns and ill patients and the protection of the property are just some concerns hospitals normally deal with. It is highly important to hire a security company that understands the various challenges and security requirements. A security consultant with experience should meet with management and discuss past challenges, expected risk factors and security of sensitive spots like especially vulnerable patients, location of controlled substances and expensive equipment. 

After the meeting with hospital management, the director of security and the general hospital staff and a full walk through of the property a written and detailed security plan should be composed. The security plan should be shared and discussed with all involved parties and once approved should be passed on to field supervisors of the company. Field supervisors and the consultant should choose the security guards being deployed carefully. Costumer service skills, vigilance, professionalism and sometimes being bi-lingual will be required. Once the plan and the staff are in place the consultant will write detailed post orders according to client’s expectations and the plan. After approval of the post orders by the client, security guards and supervisors should be trained according to the post orders.

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General access control will require recording and identifying each visitor to the hospital. That will ensure that only authorized personnel and identifiable visitors enter the building. Most hospital buildings are vast and personnel are busy and scattered. Access must be controlled diligently at the point of entry otherwise it will be impossible to guarantee security. Many hospitals are targets of robbery and burglary, because they store controlled substances that are interesting to drug addicts and drug dealers. Security officers should be aware of the location of controlled substances and should pay special attention to the location where they are stored.

California legislation requires a special security protocol for hospitals that house newborn babies. It is extremely important that security guards are familiar and trained by the protocol and those supervisors frequently and consistently ensure adherence to the regulations. Sick and elderly patients at hospitals often become the victim of violence and robbery at hospitals. The company in charge and its security guard must be aware that they are protecting people that cannot care for themselves; therefore security personnel must display special care and vigilance.

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Doctors, nurses and administrative staff at hospitals are constantly busy and are frequently dealing with stressful situations and emergencies. Most hospitals are extremely big and the security situation will be challenging. Therefore the hospital will need a security company that is professional and vigilant. It should provide the necessary peace of mind to the hospital staff that they require focusing on their job.



Source by Charles A Willis