Lessons Learned from the Casino Floor

Douglas Florence and Jessie Beaudoin share best practices and strategies developed in the evolution of their successful security and surveillance program at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Before Jessie Beaudoin joined forces with Douglas Florence Sr., at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (HRH) in Las Vegas, the facility's security and surveillance departments typically did not see "eye to eye." However, the two men have begun a new era in best practices at the casino after forming an integrated security and surveillance team.

"It is important to remember that neither department is better than the other," says Florence, CPP, Hard Rock's Executive Director of Security. "In order to mitigate situations and potential litigation, the two departments have to become one cohesive team, day-in and day-out."

There should never be a disconnect between the security and surveillance departments, adds Beaudoin, CPO, CSP, who is the Executive Director of Surveillance at the casino. "Occasional meetings with key members of the departments should be scheduled to enhance the relationship and trust between both sides."

At the Hard Rock, Florence and Beaudoin have formed a cohesive team, and they are using technology to resolve criminal matters and guest claims - all with the goal of meeting and exceeding regulatory compliance requirements, and improving important and much-needed relationships with regulators and law enforcement agencies.

Creating a Team

The first order of business for the integrated security team was to "right size" the security department with assistance from the Hard Rock's human resources department. That involved forming a Security Management Team and defining roles for security employees.

Since the casino is a 24-hour-a-day operation, the roles are split into three "shifts," and each one has distinct duties. The "Graveyard Shift," for example, typically deals with casino cash movement, the casino's night club, and concerts in "The Joint" concert venue. The "Day Shift" deals with check-in/check-out, lost and found, guests needing assistance with safes and follow-up on reported room damages. The "Swing Shift" typically deals with the casino, restaurants and the opening of concerts, special events and night life.

"First and foremost, all three shifts deal with 'guest service' - which is of significant importance," Florence says. At all times, the security team on each shift must handle intoxication issues, underage persons, disorderly conduct, domestic issues, theft and ladies of the evening. The facility also deploys a K-9 Unit on each shift doing ongoing patrol and training for bomb detection. HRH has a fully staffed K-9 kennel, so resources are on property and available 24/7.

Perimeter & Parking Security

The Hard Rock is not located on the famous Las Vegas strip. And although it is just a few blocks away, being off the strip presents a few unique challenges. According to Florence, the parking area at HRH is located in a more "urban or city-dwelling area" than the parking garages on the strip.

To deal with security and the safety of both incoming patrons and their cars and valuables, HRH uses Code Blue emergency contact towers in its parking garages and at strategic points around the building. A bike patrol is also part of the exterior security and safety plan. Typically, multiple bike officers assist with traffic control during peak periods and events, and they actively patrol the parking garages for guests in need of assistance, abandoned vehicles and any safety issues. Additionally, HRH's K-9 patrols are conducted in the parking areas as well.

"We have guests walking to the casino with large sums of money, and we don't want anything stolen or vandalized," Florence says.

Risk Management

At HRH, the surveillance team manages all CCTV video resources from a single control room, with Risk Management as a major component of the Security Operations.

The team uses risk management software integrated with the i-Trak report system from i-View Systems, which provides the security department a computer-based platform to provide the Risk Management Team with timely reports. This enables surveillance personnel to add notations and other supplemental information to the CCTV coverage.

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