Thursday, October 06, 2011

Private Security / Law Enforcement Partnerships

There are probably a few readers who are wondering why this issue is even being discussed, since there are still a few security practitioners who do not (or cannot) see the importance and value of developing good working relationships and partnerships with our law enforcement counterparts. While it may not be the most current trendy management philosophy, I can state categorically after more than 30 years in private security that having good relationships with public law enforcement is not only desirable, but it is absolutely necessary to the success of a security or loss prevention program. Without belaboring the issue, let me illustrate just a few salient points:

· There will undoubtedly come a time when some type of criminal act occurs at the organization for which you have security responsibility; and there will undoubtedly be a time when that criminal act requires, for whatever reason, some form of law enforcement involvement. That type of incident should not be the first time that you have had communication with the appropriate law enforcement agency. Knowing each other beforehand will go a long way towards a satisfactory, timely and successful resolution to your problem. (And this relationship will prove even more important if the problem becomes complicated or difficult.)

· There will undoubtedly come a time when some form of emergency situation occurs at the organization for which you have security responsibility (a fire; a bomb threat; a power outage; a lost child; a domestic dispute involving an employee; etc. etc. etc.). Knowing who to contact and what to expect from the appropriate law enforcement agency will prove essential to successful problem resolution.

· There will undoubtedly come a time when a company investigation in which you are involved requires more information or resources than you have internally. Having a good working relationship with the appropriate law enforcement agency will provide at the very least a sounding board for discussing your situation and getting an informed second opinion; and may even provide the information and/or resources that you are lacking to continue or complete your investigation.

These are only a few obvious examples of the practical need for sound working relationships between the private security sector and public law enforcement. But the benefits of such relationships go beyond the boundaries of an individual security practitioner’s needs for his own organization. As far back as the 1970’s, there has been a realization that public law enforcement cannot do its job alone: increases in criminal activity and public outcry against continually-rising taxes has created a situation in which public law enforcement is spread dangerously thin. It is unrealistic and unreasonable to expect that law enforcement can immediately respond to every citizen’s – or every business’s – wants and needs. So, along with the increased necessity for a business organization to be more self-reliant with regard to its own security needs, so, too, does that necessitate a sound partnership with involved law enforcement agencies so that both sides know what to expect from the other, to insure proper strategic and operational planning. And this concept was dramatized and heightened even more after the tragic events of 9/11.

And then there is the altruistic reason. We in the security and LP industries frequently don’t give ourselves enough credit for the importance of our role (perhaps because we are all too often held in relatively low esteem by our employers – but that is another topic for discussion). Maybe it’s time to view ourselves from a different perspective. Since business and industry is the backbone of the American economy and culture, doesn’t it seem crucial for business and industry to be protected? Isn’t the protection of our business places (corporate citizens) as important as the protection of our individual citizens? So...from this viewpoint, maybe our role is a little more important than we have heretofore realized or given ourselves credit for. Perhaps there is not significant importance individually, but certainly collectively. And our role is becoming ever more important because of the myriad of threats that the American businessplace is experiencing in today’s social and economic reality – the stability of the American economy is unquestionably a target; and the economy goes as its individual components (i.e., our organizations) go. Whether we admit to it or not, and whether we like it or not, we are part of the overall criminal justice system. And, as such, we play a vital part in the protection of our society via the protection of our companies; and we must learn to work with other protective agencies to assure that we can successfully do our jobs.

I hope I have at least provided some sound arguments for the need for good working relationships and partnerships with public law enforcement.