The Drawbacks of Commoditizing Security

Organizations should be fielding competent, properly trained and equipped personnel who are adequately prepared to handle critical scenarios

A primary role of security remains as it has for decades - to mitigate risk through proper identification, definition, evaluation and response of real and perceived threats while establishing control measures designed to protect all facets of the organization.

As these threats change, evolve or otherwise gain visibility within an organization, capable people in that organization, or contracted professionals, must assess the totality of the situation and anticipate the likely impacts these threats have on the organization. While there still remains a certain level of latitude in how much risk an organization may tolerate and, in essence, accept as the "cost of doing business," it is important to note that several industries have regulations, statutory codes or established "standards of care" that dictate security measures to be taken to adequately protect its people, product, property and proprietary information.

Yet, at a time when the list of threats identified by businesses continues to expand in virtually every industry sector, many companies appear to be taking a step backwards in how they select and use the uniformed officers assigned to protect their executives, employees, assets and sensitive information.

What Do We Need From Security Personnel?

We live in an era where the security risks experienced by U.S. corporations have expanded to include threats beyond the traditional criminal element. Today's uniformed security officers are placed in situations where they must not only identify suspicious behavior or activities associated with terrorism, workplace violence, fraud or violations of a company's work rules - but they are also asked to control these situations, collect evidence, engage appropriate resources for resoluton, document all aspects of this response and, in some cases, conduct a preliminary investigation. As advancements are made in security system technology, these officers are also required to go far beyond standard computer literacy to effectively manipulate complex integrated systems while staffing NASA-like control centers. These are no longer the entry-level positions that they were 10-15 years ago.

As corporations are asked to do more with less, businesses that possess Corporate Security functions are given fewer resources to develop and maintain traditional security programs. They are often asked to provide higher levels of protection to company assets while managing reduced budgets and maintaining tighter scrutiny on operating costs. Businesses without a formal security function often rely on other established functions such as Human Resources, Facilities, Legal or Property Management to "wear the security hat" in addition to their normal duties. In both instances, the responsibility to protect and the duty to respond to a broad range of security and safety situations gets placed on members of the organization that are unlikely to be sufficiently equipped to respond.

What Have We Done To Prepare?

Recent research suggests that safeguarding of the workplace against criminal, terrorist and workplace violence threats remains high on the list of concerns by executives and employees alike. In response to this need, the security industry has taken great strides over the last decade to elevate the expertise and professionalism of personnel operating at all levels of security.

Universities across the country have developed specialized curriculums and offer degrees in the areas of security management and administration. A predominant and highly regarded security trade association, ASIS Intl., continues to develop standards, influence legislation and conduct research around mitigation strategies and their effective deployment. Threats to American businesses continue to evolve in our post-9/11 era and many within security believe that industry professionals are poised and prepared to respond. Regrettably, many of the corporations and businesses requiring this protection have been slow to understand the level of financial investment and operational support necessary to adequately deliver this service.

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