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The Art of Security

By Vic Vogel When most people think of security, images of an overweight person in a smokey bear hat, or a vehicle with yellow lights flashing in a parking lot come to mind. The image is not flattering to say the least. Perhaps the industry is responsible for the less-than-favorable image by fostering low pay which in turn accounts for heavy turnover. The average hourly rate for a person responsible for your safety and security is around $9.00 per hour, which equals about $18,700 per year before taxes. This is not far from the poverty level, and certainly is not attracting some of the best college graduates in the criminal justice field. In fact many security officers may not have a high school education. If you ever review an employment contract, or contract with larger security organization you will see clauses in both contracts that emphasize the role of security is to observe, collect information, and call the police. The emphasis is not engaging in any act that could jeopardize the safety of the security officer, or could lead to a liability case. A recent YouTube video that went viral, and publicized on network news, showed a teenage girl being beaten while three security officers stood by and watched, as they were instructed in their job description at the time. Since that time the contracting company has renegotiated the contract with a security company, and allows for intervention in life threatening, or severe bodily harm situations. The problem is, it took a public embarrassment to make the change. Teen Girl Get's Brutally Beaten While 3 Security Guards Watch!!! (You must be 18 or older to view this video) A previous blog "Are you secure while violent crime increases" emphasizes the need for individuals to take accountability for their security. It becomes painfully obvious that law enforcement is woefully understaffed to protect the public, and security agencies are not focused on providing quality protection. The general mission for most security companies is to discourage crime through physical presence. The sad fact is, this philosophy is based on flawed and outdated information. It has been the primary role of security since the beginning to provide roving patrols and roving guards to provide security. Most criminals, the professional criminals, have figured out they simply need to identify patterns and be where the roving patrols are not. Consequently parking lot assaults and burglaries continue in parking lots, neighborhoods, malls, and other public places. Now, drive-by purse snatching has been added to the criminals skill set. This is happening in spite of CCTV cameras installed, roving foot and vehicle patrols in parking lots, and inside retail Figure 1 Picture from movie "Mall Cop" stores. This criminal activity increases, and will expand not because security has become useless, but because the meaning of security is archaic, and not seen as professional. Security has been the brunt of movie spoofs, cartoons, and are seen generally in a degraded role in public media. Security must change its image.

This blog offers a different purpose for security. One that is more strategic in nature. This unique view of security focuses not on activities of security, but the impact of security. Eagle Investigations and Protection developed and uses this strategic approach with its clients. Their unique approach to security engages their clients in the design and execution of a security strategy to eliminate fear, as opposed to providing security officers as a deterrent. This new concept of security requires a higher caliber of security professional. Skill sets like assessment, analysis, comparison, judgement, communication, and decisiveness become critical and instill in the client the ability to focus on their daily activities without fear, and with confidence. Obviously the level of professionalism has to be increased in every security officer that works in this new environment. Needless to say, the client embraces security into the strategy because of their involvement in the process. The security professionals and the client become a synergistic team that has the combined knowledge and skill to identify and address all security needs. This process also ensures that expenditures for security are viewed not as expenses, but are now turned into investments that are often marketed by the client to their customers, e.g. a hotel markets a quality security strategy to attract guests because they offer a safe and secure environment for travelers. If you are in business and contracted for security services, at some point you have probably questioned the value of security, especially if you never experienced a severe security event, e.g. assault and rape in the parking garage. The fact is we buy services like insurance hoping we will never experience an event, and do not question the value of an insurance plan. Perhaps this is because if something did happen there is a big payoff. Security is not much different. You contract with security hoping nothing ever happens, but if it does it minimizes the loss and cost. If something serious did happen, e.g. a rape or car jacking in your parking lot, and you did not have security to protect your clients or customers, the law suit could range in the millions. So, security is not much different than you paying for insurance with the hope nothing happens. When you consider security an expense, then you have to ask the question, "Is the cost justified, given nothing has happened." The response could be a gambling mentality. The odds are against anything happening, with or without security. However, if something did happen the severity and potential large loss becomes significant without security. This dilemma might be resolved if security was viewed from a more strategic point of view. Lets begin by taking a look at the definition of security. Webster's definition of security says, "1 : the quality or state of being secure: as a : freedom from danger : safety b : freedom from fear or anxiety". The key words to focus upon are "freedom", "fear", "danger", and "anxiety". Simply put the primary mission of security is to reduce and/or eliminate fear and anxiety as it relates to danger. Given this definition you have to wonder, if the primary job description for a security officer is to observe and report versus engage, then would the client's fear and anxiety be reduced based on the security officer's job description. Can security be viewed in a more assertive way without creating increased liability? The answer is, yes! However, you cannot use the traditional security mentality. It requires a more strategic orientation to security, by both security professionals, and individuals and organizations contracting with them. Some basic principles from "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu can help to explain this new and unique approach to security.

Sun Tzu stated, " The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable."[emphasis added by me]1 Lets examine this statement in relation to the existing security philosophy, and the new proposed strategic philosophy. First, the traditional security approach is to place guards in the position to discourage any assaults or criminal act. This mentality assumes the protection will keep the criminal from coming. The fact is, security has not served to reduce crime over the years. Violent assaults happen in parking lots that are patrolled regularly by security. Lets face the facts, most individuals and organizations cannot afford around-the-clock security protection for every customer who parks on the lot. In this case security officers and the security agency have not failed, the system and philosophy have failed. A strategic approach to security would adhere to Sun Tzu's philosphy of making the potential victim "unassailable". In other words the focus should not be on the security officer patrolling, but helping clients and customers become more aware of what steps will keep them from being a victim. The person that has the most to lose is the potential victim, therefore they should have the most motivation to learn what it takes to not become a victim. What would be a recommended security strategy to help the client not become a victim? One strategy is to provide customers and/or clients a seminar explaining what it takes to prevent being victimized. Another option is for a hotel to provide a handout to guests upon check-in with tips on how to make themselves secure while staying at a hotel. Another approach is to complete a security assessment. Security and threat assessments can be conducted on individuals, companies, organizations, or even neighborhoods. A neighborhood association who completes a threat assessment, defines weak areas, defines a strategy to address each of the weak areas, and creates a tactical security plan that includes the neighborhood members, and whatever security organizations might be needed, will experience less fear and anxiety. In this scenario the neighborhood members take accountability and responsibility for their security. The more active they become, the more proficient they become at securing themselves, their loved ones, and their assets. Keep in mind, they most likely could not afford to hire a security officer aroundthe-clock for every person in the neighborhood. As a military general Sun Tzu explained the desire to defeat the enemy without engaging them in battle. He referred to this as the ultimate victory. To do this he and his commanders had to master the concept that, " determines measurements, measurement determines estimation, estimation determines calculations, calculations determine comparison, and comparison determines victory." This simple phrase encompasses the power of strategy. A strategic security plan involves knowledge about your assailant(s), where they may be, how they might attack, when they might attack, and with what force. Knowing this information allows you to estimate potential attacks, along with the timing, location, etc. Once you have estimated this , you can calculate the force with which the attack might happen, compare the information gathered, and then prepare a security strategy that will address all the potential attack scenarios, e.g. lethal attack, non-lethal attack, theft, property destruction. You then know what you need to ensure that each of the potential attack scenarios is covered from a security standpoint. The biggest underlying factor associated with fear is uncertainty. The attacker always has the advantage of knowing when, where, and how they will attack. The potential victim is unaware of this

information in advance. By definition traditional security is very vulnerable . Traditional security will always be at a disadvantage. As a client this should make you feel very uncomfortable. Be clear, there is never a 100% guarantee that any security precautions can stop an attack. However, if you were betting your life, using an organization focused on developing a security strategy reduces the odds a great deal. Even though you do not know exact information, like Sun Tzu you have taken the time to forecast what might happen. This is far better than setting back with a security guard hoping there will not be an attack because there is a security guard present. Keep in mind, roving security patrols will most likely be needed in most security strategies. The difference is, security guards are not the solutions, they are a component part of the solution. Professional criminals are not ignorant and psychotic people as much of society believes. If you have spent any time talking with professional criminals they are individuals who learned a craft, practice it regularly, improve on their mistakes, and can be calculated and cunning. In most cases they will get caught for a criminal act. But, as one professional criminal told me, "To answer questions on how to become more secure against me, I would have to disguise my face and voice, because there is a lot I have done they have not caught me doing." In other words, although this person served over ten years in prison, it was for one of a multitude of crimes he has committed, most of which he was never caught doing. The reason most criminals are caught, is not their lack of skill, it is greed or a chemical dependency on drugs that drives them to do things that are too risky, and they would otherwise pass over. To defeat your enemy without engaging him, you must know him well enough, to make your self unassailable. I have not talked to a criminal who wants to get caught. They constantly weigh the risk against the return. It is in their nature. Prison is not only punishing, in intrudes on their ability to make money. Criminals do not want to get caught. Consequently to defeat the criminal without engaging him is to have a security strategy that makes you totally unattractive as a victim. Making a client totally unattractive and unassailable is what Eagle Investigations and Protection is all about. It is a far better approach than simply hiring low paid guards with the hope that they will deter criminals from attacking. In addition the client's uncertainty is reduced because they were actively involved in their security strategy planning process. During recessionary times security is one of the first areas to be cut from a budget. It is hard to justify the expenditure, particularly when the client is not actively involved in the process. The unknowing client simply says nothing has happened, and probably will not, so cut security. As an executive of a company should you question the value of using security guards? The answer is YES. However, I would caution about questioning the value of SECURITY. If you are an individual or an organization, and you are fearful for your security, you need to seek professional help. When selecting professional help you should seek professionals who will create a security strategy that will eliminate your fear and anxiety about danger, and give you the freedom to live your life securely. Not everyone, or every organization, will need to seek professional protection. If you are living in fear and have a great deal of anxiety about being in danger, then do not ignore the signs and seek professional help. In many cases a solid security strategy will not just protect you, but will eliminate the problem totally. 1 The are of War, Sun Tzu, Penquin Books, New York, NY, 2003