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

The risk management module enables the security and surveillance staff to collect evidence and put together an investigation that can then be given to decision-makers such as attorneys, judges and juries.

"Risk Management reports to me today; however, the security practices now being used could provide an avenue for the legal department or corporate services to assume the responsibility," Florence says. "The reports mitigate potential claims and provide the Risk Manager with the ability to make an informed and timely decision with guest services. This is very important for HRH and the industry as a whole."

Meeting with key security management personnel to discuss pending investigations, safety and risk management issues is key to measuring improvements in performance, Florence says. "Using the decades of experience that the staff brings to the table, combined with the day-to-day experiences of the business operations is essential," he says. "Letting the future leadership of the department contribute also ensures participation and fresh ideas to be nurtured and implemented."

Although surveillance does not bring direct revenue to the bottom line, teamwork and communication between Risk Management, Security and Surveillance can save a company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

"Risk Management relies heavily on CCTV resources that are managed by the Surveillance department at HRH," Beaudoin says. "This emphasizes another reason why Security and Surveillance teams have got to work together closely and efficiently."

Safety is administered by the Risk Manager, who uses a Security Investigator to pull permits for events and to conduct investigations.

Formal Training Programs

The Security Management Team has revived a once-discontinued formal training program for. The first sessions required security officers to read the book "Verbal Judo - The Gentle Art of Persuasion" by George J. Thompson, PhD, and Jerry B. Jenkins - which provides discussion material for de-escalating security contact in a night club setting. This was followed by Report Writing Content, Ethics and use of computer -based report writing tools.

"These programs provide a better environment for ethics, and for our officers to apply security and guest services at the same time," Florence says. "Through this training, they pick up a sense of how to negotiate with people in an irrational state (drunk), or in a hectic environment. The training is allowing us to make better decisions and giving us more tools to make better decisions."

Florence says he has spoken with the Verbal Judo Institute to set up future hands-on training sessions, and to go more in-depth into the philosophy. He adds that outside consultants, speakers and experts will also be brought in to educate the security and surveillance teams.

Guard Tour Management

"Security dispatch is the lifeblood of our response, and communication is the key," Florence says. "It is accomplished by telephone, alarm activation and radio."

At HRH, bar code scanning provides documentation of security patrols or guard tours as they are called and for inspection of safety equipment. "We use bar code scanning from ScanExec," Florence says. "This provides an audit trail that ensures guest safety is being maintained - and this should be a common practice for any resort property."

Surveillance Best Practices

Slip-and-Falls and other Injuries: As it pertains to Risk Management, the surveillance teams must remember to be detail-orientated and extremely thorough when investigating cases of guest and employee slip-and-falls, injuries and any other potential claims that can lead to lawsuit, Beaudoin says. "When an employee or guest falls, rather than just finding the incident occurring on video then saving the video surveillance, teams must verify that the fall wasn't staged or fabricated in an effort to get a settlement from the casino," he says. "Treat every case as a potential fraud case by saving all camera angles (if available) that show how the fall occurred. In the event that there is no coverage of the incident, you can save the closest cameras in the area of where the incident occurred. This will help you later if the case goes to court.