At the Frontline: 2013 ASIS President Geoffrey Craighead

Universal Protection Service executive discusses how he got his start in the industry, evolution of profession


Like many security practitioners, Geoffrey Craighead’s start in the security industry was an unconventional one. Craighead, CPP, who currently serves as vice president of guard services firm Universal Protection Service, originally graduated from Australian National University with a degree in forestry. After returning to his hometown of Melbourne where he played professional Australian Rules football for two years, Craighead was later hired by a company called Security Systems Far East Ltd. in the late 70s where he started to learn about the security industry.

"The more I got involved in it, the more I saw there were some real possibilities here with regards to a career. I never really thought it was going to be a career to tell you the truth, but one thing led to another," Craighead said.

In 1982, Craighead came to Los Angeles where he attended a local ASIS chapter meeting, from which he landed his first job in private security.

"I heard about (ASIS), went to a chapter meeting and through that got a job," he said. "I actually won the door prize, which was a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whisky donated by the contract company. I called them up that afternoon to thank them and ended up being interviewed the next day and two days later I’m running around in a patrol vehicle in L.A. Things work out in funny ways." 

He would later work at the First Interstate Bank building (now known as the U.S. Bank Tower) in Los Angeles where he developed an expertise in high-rise building security. Craighead has even authored a book on the subject entitled "High-Rise Security and Fire Life Safety." He currently runs the training program for Universal Protection Service, which provides fire and life safety services to many high-rise buildings throughout the U.S.

In this "At the Frontline" interview, Craighead discusses how he’s seen the industry change through the years and what the future holds for the profession.

SIW: How have you seen the role of security practitioners change over the years?

Craighead:  The relationship between private security and public law enforcement has improved so much and we know that watershed event of 9/11 contributed a lot to that. ASIS really does reach out to foster those relationships through its law enforcement liaison council and its association with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, but the other thing that strikes me… is the technology that I’ve seen change so much and the one technology I think has changed the most rapidly has been video.

When you think of what’s go on over the last 15 years, it is just phenomenal. The capabilities of video to help security practitioners is just invaluable as a tool to both possibly detect a crime when it’s occurring, but also forensically with regards to investigations, so that’s been the biggest change. When I was writing the second edition of “High-Rise Security,” I remember I took the week off to go through the magazines I had and I would pull out articles and catalog them where they would fit into the book and the thing that most impressed me when I first did that was how CCTV had changed. A lot of the articles were being written about video rather than access control or intrusion detection. Of course the other big change was when you had network connectivity with some of those devices… and that has changed things.

SIW: With your expertise in high-rise security, how would you say the threats against those facilities has changed?

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