My Views On
The Security Industry
To begin, let me give some of my security background. My first encounter with security responsibilities was as an officer in the U. S. Army. I was in the Infantry and one of my assignments was with special weapons including a nuclear weapon. I had a SECRET clearance. You can imagine the security provisions with respect to that program.
After active duty, I was a Briefing Officer at Division level in a USAR unit and my full time job was as a representative for a military industrial contractor (the former Chance Vought Aircraft Company). I was stationed on a U. S. Navy facility and regularly briefed pilots, Admirals, Generals, Congressmen and Senators on various aircraft and aircraft proposals the company was working on for the U. S. Navy, USMC and U. S. Air Force as well as NASA. To do this work I needed to retain my SECRET clearance. I was frequently involved in making arrangements for various cleared dignitaries to obtain the various clearances they would need to gain access into the facility as well as into controlled areas for the briefing I either gave or arranged for them.
I was frequently sent to Washington D. C. and to different military failities to coordinate with these same people as well as their departmental staff. Security measures had to be observed at all the military facilities as well as the controlled areas of the USG I needed to visit in the course of my duties. My responsibilities were extended to include working with the State Department for the sales of military systems to foreign governments. This then had me involved with the security procedures of foreign governments as well, as I visited their facilities overseas.
I left the military industrial industry to work with former astronaut Alan Shepard in a private venture which was successfully sold about nine years later. I then worked as a consultant which included addessing security issues. After doing a few projects, I went to work for what is now Securitas security in about 1996. I moved to a minority security company, B. P. Security and Investigations, Inc. in 1998.
For most of that time I was with BP I was the ranking officer as Major and produced the company response to the many bids and proposals we participated in. We won more than our fair share. We also did events including a Super Bowl, a national convention, the NBA All Star Game and National Tennis tournaments.
In 2007, I left BP and became a Vice President at the security company for which I now work. This represents over thirty years experience with and in security (I deducted the years with Alan Shepard which had no security requirements). I give this background to suggest I have some experience to make a few observations.
My Views And Observations
The first is my disappointment in the U. S. business community as whole that despite what happened on 9/11 - does not provide adequate security for their business and employees. Unless they can find a program provided by the USG or local government, they provide only enough security to satisfy insurance, fire and safety requirements if that. It is not unusual to walk into a multi-storied building and be greeted by the one and only security officer in the entire building and/or its parking garage.
Another example is an upscale housing subdivision of considerable acreage that employs a single contract security officer at the front entrance gate.
Municipal entities contract for security and award the contracts to the lowest bidder. Even when it is clear the company who won the contract can not meet the requirements, it is not unusual for the situation to drag on as the procurement department does not want to restart that process.
I have seen the security industry, since 9/11, make considerable strides in professionalizing their product. National organizations such as ASIS and IFPO which are professional security company organizations and associations have done much to improve the image and raise the performance bar for security companies and officers. State organizations such as Texas' own Associated Security Services and Investigators of the State, ASSIST , led by security professionals from the industry have dragged and pushed reluctant security companies to be more professional in how they conduct their business.
Most companies and people have come to the realization that the police generally come after the security problem has incurred. If you want to secure and protect your property and people - hire private security. The security companies have grown as a consequence of this fact. In all our large cities, private security officers now out number police officers and law enforcement officers in general by at least two to one.
So the industry is more professional than it was prior to 9/11 and there are more security officers available than previously, more than law enforcement officers and yet - U. S. companies continue to do security on the cheap. In fact, market conditions have actually dropped mandated security wages in many areas as the 9/11 scare fades from memory. This has allowed companies and municipalities to take advantage of the general public's willingness to go back to pre- 9/11 security awareness levels and performance.
The federal government, on the otherhand, has continued to develop security infrastructure as witnessed by our having to undergo inspections at airports and stronger passport requirements as well as more stringent ID requirements for employees working at ports and other points of entry.
The leaders of our country and the many staffers who slowly move to put in place the protections against terrorism that take time just because of the breadth of what needs to be done are motivated to stop the "other shoe" from dropping. At the same time the general public and American business in general are willing to be laissez-faire about security and the threat. Yes there are more security officers, but there is still not enough to aedequately protect American businesses properly.
Iraq nor Afghanistan are yet to be secured and there are other nations such as Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Iran that have ill will toward America and Americans, not to speak of the domestic crime and that which is spilling over from Mexico in our own cities. The threat is present and it presents a danger.
We can not afford the ostrich method of security, of ignoring the threat by burying our heads in the sand or applying a bandaid when major surgery is needed. This is a form of denial, in that it denies proper protection to American business and employees. It is one thing to bury your head from known threats because you politically or financially can not afford it - it is another to do it because you do not want to pay for the security level that will take to aedequately protect your assets and people. Instead, opting to make a show of security instead of providing real security. That is a bluff terrorists or organized crime will call someday.
Further examples of the cheapness of security provided American workers by their employers are the contracts and proposals written to say the contract security company will provide all needed supervision. This after negotiations to reduce the Bill Rate to the lowest possible number. This means you get an officer for a low pay rate and we all know you get what you pay for in the end. The supervisor issue means, the company for whom the service is being provided did want not to pay for any supervisory expense or responsibility but does want it to be provided - free. The company paying for the service should have made supervision a budget item in the contract so they could have a dedicated supervisor(s) on property, or since they awarded the contract without supervision and to the lowest bidder, they should supervise the contract security they have hired.
I recently participated in a bid for an entity that wanted everything as stated above and that a vehicle or vehicles be dedicated to the patrolling of multiple site locations for the company at no additional cost to the company. Any good security company would include the costs for the supervisor(s) and vehicle(s), gas and wear and tear. The company issuing the RFP also specified the bid would go to the lowest bidder - which to me means this entity will not be getting the best or even a good security company to protect its property, employees, customers and vendors. And, that is my point.
While I am up here on the soapbox, there is one other point I would like to make and this problem, no doubt, was caused by the industry itself but business should have figured out it is bad business. That is the industry standard of paying after contract security services have been provided. This means the security company is not going to get paid for thirty, forty-five, sometimes sixty days after it has paid its security officer employees for the hours of security they have provided the company. On big contracts or several medium contracts you are talking some serious money that a security company is forced to find float to cover. The situation is even more difficult for minority companies. How is this an intelligent way to have strong healthy security companies with minority partners ready to protect American business?
I will close this observation with some recommendations that to me seem obvious.
Procurement personnel need to let the security professionals do more than describe "Scope of Service", they need to allow security to define quality of service and the company needs to be prepared to pay for it. This would include market rates for better than the lowest (cheapest) level of service and have supervisors and vehicles and other equipment, if needed as line items in the bid. Companies need to step up their levels of security that is a more realistic deterrent to their being a target.
Contracting companies need to pay for service a week or two in advance with an invoice adjusting system to make corrections as needed and legal protection for any perceived problems of potential abuse.
In short, American business needs to get into the campaign against terror and crime in an effective way - to protect their business and people and not do just the minimum and hope they get by.
Gerard P. Moran,
a concerned security professional
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