I have been involved in loss prevention programs in the corporate and defense environments for more than twenty-five years. During that time, both the scope of the problems and the means used to address them have changed dramatically. The skills considered essential for security professionals must be re-evaluated in light of these developments.
The most outstanding change over this past quarter century has been in technology. Twenty-five years ago words such as microchip, multiplex microprocessor, personal computer, and database storage were unknown to most people. Indeed, most of the technology we commonly use in our protective services today were considered science fiction when I began my career.
The second fundamental change in our industry has been sociological, extending security's responsibilities to everything from drugs to environmental issues. Over these years, we have seen a dramatic and steady rise in the use of drugs and the impact drugs have on our society.
Sociological change is present in our concern for the issues of employee safety. Twenty-five years ago the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was an idea being developed by some of our legislators. Twenty-five years ago there was no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Sociological change has brought us a new awareness of the rights of individual citizens. This is positive, but it also changes the way in which law enforcement functions.
Sociological change has been evident in the rate and kind of litigation we now have choking our courts. Some of this litigation has had a profound effect on both law enforcement and private security, particularly in the fields of abuse and negligence.
The question now is whether the typical path from high school to the military, a police force, or a government agency and then to a second career in private security is adequate under today's changing circumstances in the security field. Security systems are increasingly important as staffing levels are reduced. Security professionals must have a working knowledge of the technology available and how to implement it.
Understanding computers and their output is becoming a necessity. The ability to develop audit programs is becoming essential. The ability to identify potential problems is replacing the need for investigation after the fact.
New fields of expertise are also required by the changing nature of problems security managers face. For instance, the new weapon of choice for vandalism, terrorism, and revenge is fire. The security professional is increasingly faced with the need to be proficient in fire protection. Other concerns include occupational safety, environmental concerns, and the ability to protect an executive from personal responsibility when a loss occurs.
The new buzzwords in security are loss prevention, risk management, and safety management. The word security is downplayed because it is associated with a passing art form. Within a few years, the title security director may equate to dinosaur.
According to some professionals in our field, a minimum requirement for a supervisory position in security management by 1995 will be an associate degree in computer science. By the turn of the century, a computer specialist will be controlling a force of robotic security officers.
I have seen a major corporation hire a vice president for security who made it part of his agreement that the title be changed to vice president of risk management. …