Security Personnel

By Blake, William F. | Journal of Property Management, July-August 1998 | Go to article overview

Security Personnel


Blake, William F., Journal of Property Management


Although the incidence of many types of crime has decreased in recent years, the potential liability costs, not to mention the negative publicity, still provides ample reason for real estate owners and managers to worry about security. And in many cases, the public's perception of danger may be as costly as actual crime.

The primary loss prevention tool for many properties is the employment of security officers, on either a proprietary or contract basis. Yet determining the most effective way to provide adequately trained and motivated security officers within the financial constraints imposed by management objectives is a major concern.

Traditionally, management has primarily concentrated on increasing profits through the reduction of expenses - the less you pay for security, the better. However, when adequately trained security personnel are viewed as a contributor to reduced liability and higher tenant satisfaction, security can be viewed as a significant factor in cost containment and budget management.

Taking the Longer Term View

There are two schools of thought when expenditures of security funds are considered. The "expense" school suggests that security efforts be kept to a minimum. This hypothesis assumes that there wall be no immediate effect on company operations since problems will arise in the future and can be handled as a current expense then. The typical compensation package under this scenario is often minimum wage with little or no training.

The "investment" school believes that security funding is a long-term investment with a predictable rate of return. A basic principle of this theory is that adequate security measures will generate a percentage of return through loss prevention.

Prevention through Quality

The availability and performance of security personnel can greatly influence liability potential. Having a security officer at every door is not necessary. It is only necessary that the security officers be sufficient in number and adequately trained to provide an appropriate professional response.

Allowing a security services provider to decide what is adequate performance is similar to allowing employees to set their own performance standards and evaluations. It is management's responsibility to identify minimum performance standards and continually evaluate and demand compliance with these identified standards.

Interaction between management and the service provider is required to develop and implement appropriate standards for security services. The identification and enforcement of these standards are joint ventures between the contractor and management, with management being the dominant partner. Legal requirements, the unique problems affecting the property, acceptance of security restrictions by the public, and cost constraints must be considered. A major factor in setting performance standards is that you only get the level of service for which you are willing to pay.

Setting Performance Standards

The duties and responsibilities of the security officer in part will be dictated by the property's configuration and tenancy. These factors include external and internal influences. External influences include proximity to major streets, locations on bus mutes, neighborhood business mix (small service stores versus bars and entertainment), and related factors that influence the likelihood of criminal incidents. Internal influences include the size and topography of the site, the interior road network, landscape features, and other factors that reduce vision and restrict direct movement from one part of a property to another, and the size and configuration of individual buildings on the property.

After the security responsibilities have been identified, management must establish minimum staffing requirements. Minimum staffing requirements are determined based upon the responsibilities of the security force, management expectations, and the internal and external factors that affect the provision of security. …

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