Magazine article Security Management

Should Companies Adopt Community Policing Practices?

Magazine article Security Management

Should Companies Adopt Community Policing Practices?

Article excerpt

Anyone who has been following the American law enforcement scene has most likely observed the trend toward community policing, where police partner with the community with an emphasis on proactive problem-solving. This approach has been credited with contributing to the recent decline in crime around the country. Perhaps similar progress could be achieved in private industry if professional security managers adapted the principles of community policing to the corporate world. This approach could be called corporate-oriented protection (COP).

Under the community policing partnership concept, citizens become an extension of law enforcement to assist the local police in its crime-fighting tasks. Through a network of neighborhood watch groups and other civilian institutions such as churches, professional associations, and social organizations, each person becomes a pair of extra eyes and ears helping to spot crime or the potential for crime, and report it promptly to the police. Once a concern is reported, law enforcement resources can be brought to bear to correct or eradicate the problem before it becomes a significant menace to threaten the community.

Transferring this concept to the corporate setting, each employee can assist security in detecting developing threats or vulnerabilities that might cause security problems. Through this type of employee support and active participation, the security department is augmented and can direct its limited resources more effectively.

For COP to succeed, there must first be a firm commitment by senior management to engage in a protection effort in which all employees become involved. Unless executive management takes this position and holds it, COP will not work.

COP implementation also requires an educational commitment to ensure that all personnel understand the concepts of COP and their roles in relation to it. The security manager must stress that COP is a philosophy and not just another new program. The difference is that programs have a beginning and an end. However, a philosophy is designed to create a new attitude or mind-set.

In this case, the work force is being asked to change its view that security is the responsibility of one unit or division and to adopt instead the understanding that a team effort is necessary for effective security. Over time, this philosophy should become ingrained in the organizational culture.

To apply the COP concept within an organization, the security department should develop relationships with all segments of the company - including senior management, department management, and front-line staff. If employees are unionized, the union should be among the groups asked to support COP.

The security department should conduct a companywide awareness campaign, emphasizing the need for and the benefits of having employee participation in the protection of company personnel and property. In this way, everyone - not just security - becomes a stakeholder in the success of the security program.

The awareness campaign should include training for management and the work force to teach them how to spot security problems. Topics to be covered in staff and department meetings would include crime threats such as theft, drugs on the job, and fraud.

Once the partnership bond is achieved between the security component and the organization's various operational units, it is time to proceed to the next phase of corporate-oriented protection: problem-solving. Through the partnership, security will already have involved everyone in problem identification. …

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