It is important to recognize that private-sector entities may have the resources necessary to conduct in-depth research into particular issues. This often puts the private sector in a much better position to identify new tools, techniques and methodologies more efficiently than public-sector organizations; however, public-sector groups are often notified of government-funded research or statistics before private sector individuals. Since each group often has access to different information, knowledge sharing is absolutely critical. One of the best examples of knowledge sharing between private sector and private sector entities is the Midwest Consolidated Security Forum (www.mcsfonline.org) which is sponsored, planned and coordinated by at least nine different organizations — all with the goal of increasing collaboration between the public and private sectors.
The goal of establishing these relationships is to have contacts that will respond quickly and appropriately when presented with a problem or issue. Not having a contact within various agencies means that a lot of time can be spent during a crisis trying to track down the appropriate agency, identifying the appropriate individual and then trying to establish credibility in a short period of time. I have been called more than once by someone in a panic saying that their network had been compromised and they wanted to know who they should call.
Establishing relationships with private-sector individuals and groups provides law enforcement agencies with the ability to demonstrate to a section of the public how law enforcement agencies truly operate. Often, people's exposure to law enforcement is either negative or takes place in a very stressful environment. Building a rapport with private-sector security professionals makes it much easier for law enforcement agencies to do their jobs effectively.
Sharing Knowledge and Experience
It is important to never abuse any established relationship with anyone in law enforcement. Calling with frivolous questions or requests can quickly destroy a relationship that took a long time to develop. I will frequently contact various members of law enforcement while researching material for articles for this publication. I will tell them up front that I'm conducting research for an article and to let me know if there is anything that is not for “public consumption.” In the years I have been writing for Security Technology & Design , I have never written anything that was told to me in confidence.
One of the most critical aspects of private sector and public sector collaboration is the ability to share knowledge and experiences. In Kansas City , there is a group of security professionals and law enforcement officers called the Association of Security and Police (ASAP) that was founded in 1995 and meets monthly. In each meeting, individuals share current security threats or trends that they are seeing within their organizations or agencies. Law enforcement officers will describe crime patterns in particular neighborhoods or that are targeted at particular businesses. Private security professionals will report incidents they have witnessed on their premises or targeted at their employees. This sharing of information enables the members to better identify current threats or issues in their area — often much more relevant than looking at national trends or statistics.
The most important ingredient of these meetings is that the information is provided in a secure, confidential manner. Without a level of trust, this knowledge-sharing would never take place. Other parts of the country have similar groups that have been created to foster collaboration. The article “ Law Enforcement and Private Security Liaison: Partnerships for Cooperation” (www.ifpo.org/articlebank/lawprivateliaison.html) discusses several of these organizations and the issues surrounding successfully forming and maintaining these organizations.
An area where knowledge sharing should be encouraged involves the area of digital video and CCTV systems. One of the biggest complaints I hear from my contacts in law enforcement is that they have been provided video of a particular incident or crime, but its poor quality makes it completely useless for investigative or evidentiary purposes. This poor-quality video means limited to non-existent protection for the systems' owners, as well as preventing the apprehension of criminals. It would be a good idea to discuss what type of video quality is needed by law enforcement prior to an incident. This can ensure that a quick and effective response can be initiated.