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Mark Clark

Mark Clark

Mark Clark is the public information officer for a law enforcement agency in the southwest. He is also a photographer and contributor to POLICE Magazine.
Patrol

How Private Security Can Help Law Enforcement

On-site professional security personnel can provide a wealth of information to law enforcement officers responding to a call.

May 31, 2012  |  by Louis Perry

I've worked in private security for many years, and in my experience there are certain steps people in this profession can take to better help law enforcement investigate incidents. Police officers I have worked with have told me they appreciate this. But more importantly, aiding in solving crimes that occur on an employer's property is a vital extension of a security officer's job.

If you work in private security, I suggest you incorporate these suggestions into your job. If you're a police officer, passing these tips on to private security firms you have occasion to work with might improve your working relationships when you encounter their employees during investigations.

Here is what police officers prefer to encounter when they arrive at the scene of a crime and need to speak with security personnel:

Respect

Be respectful of police officers. On approach, address any law enforcement officer as ma'am or sir, and politely answer any questions you are asked. If you show respect, more respect will be shown to you.

Neat Appearance      

Law enforcement officers' uniforms are expected to be spotless. Yours should be too. It's another way to present yourself as a professional and command respect. Always wear a clean shirt, tuck in your pants and wear a belt, and wear black socks and well maintained black shoes appropriate for a security detail.

Clear Communication

Speak slowly and directly so you are sure to be understood, and make eye contact with the responding officer. Provide facts and not opinions. What you have observed, you must report.

Assistance When Needed

Offer your assistance and make yourself readily available the entire time law enforcement officers are on site.

Knowing Your Role

Simply observe and report. Understand a security officer is not the same as a police officer. Police officers don't expect you to respond as they would. Introduce yourself and offer your assistance, and then step aside. Police do not like encountering the "wanna-be" cop types of security guards. You don't want to become more of a liability than an aid to law enforcement by interfering.

Site Knowledge

You should know as much as possible about the place where you work. Be able to show police officers the location of stairwells and tell them where they lead to and from, as well as the location of a fire life safety system. Know how many levels there are in each building, including the number of parking levels, as well as how many access points lead to the building and where there is roof access. You should also know who is in the building at all times. Being able to answer these types of questions will let a police officer know you are a professional, and will aid in the investigation.

Thanks

Be sure to thank the law enforcement officer for responding to a call. This simple sign of appreciation will always go far.

Professionalism

Always strive for professionalism. Many people are depending on you to do so. You are there to protect your employer's assets and to be forthcoming and knowledgeable about your work site when the need arises for you to assist law enforcement.

Are you a professional or not? Whether security personnel follow these tips will determine how law enforcement officers will perceive them.

 Do you have other tips to add? Write them in the comment section below.

 Louis Perry is the president of Kadima Security Services in Los Angeles.

Tags: Private Security Officers, Crime Scenes, How-To Guides


Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Rex McEvoy @ 5/31/2012 5:32 PM

Well put Louis. These tips will help public and private officers network more effectively.

Joshua Mercer @ 6/5/2012 7:21 PM

Many police officers forget the evolution of industry. If Police officers conducted themselves today, as they did 15 years ago just about every department would be under review from various alphabet soups for civil right violations. With that said, the era of the 1950's security guard is going the way of the Dodo. While admittedly in various states (such as mine FL) education has not been up to par when it comes to the training and licensure of security Officers. However with that said, post 9/11 and with crime coming in ever shortening waves the duty of the "traditional" security officer has evolved; and continues to do so. Security Officers in the State of Florida have no more power than that of a citizen; with that said, LE ask yourselves how many times it would have benefited your investigation / prevention of a crime if that citizen where to of acted instead of stand idly by and allow a crime to occur. Admittedly there is no expectation for a citizen to involve themselves in a crime, nor are the citizens trained to do so. I’m not advocating that citizens get involved! My belief is that through education (of both the LE and the Security Officer) that a Security Officer may be of better assistance to not only a LE, but to the community in which he/she works in. Because Security Officers in the majority of the US are not sworn, and have no arrest powers they are not bound by the Constitution, they are given "Private Property Rights". I own a small Private Security Agency in Central Florida and while it has been an uphill fight (with LE) we have come to a very mutual understand, with each side knowing how far they can go. We use each as a tool to better the community in which we serve. I think that along with the ideas outlined in the article, it is imparative that Security Officers seek training on various Statutes that govern not only them but what they may encounter.

John Bellah @ 6/5/2012 8:35 PM

My first L.E. jobs were in the private sector. After getting burned a couple of times on an arrest where the responding police officers wrote the report, I took things into my own hands. As we used the same reports forms the city police used, I would write the report as the responding officer would. When the officers arrived to take custody of my suspect I would hand them my report, and offer a cup of coffee. Usually all the officers needed to do was insert their name(s), serial & unit numbers, and who the booking was approved by. The officers working the area car loved this--less work for them to do, yet they earned an easy arrest "stat."

Jeff Hawkins @ 6/6/2012 6:01 AM

There are many different levels of security personnel and this article addresses what I would classify as the basic, line staff guard guidelines and it is good advice.

However no one should lose sight that the private security sector at higher levels interacts, supports, and acts with law enforcement in investigations and making arrests on a regular basis.

Yes, every state is different as to what security personnel can do and not do, but in many, many instances, law enforcement has given special police authority because they realize that private security can be a valuable asset to law enforcement.

There are now 1.2 million private security personnel in the United States and they now protect over 50% of the nation’s Critical Infrastructure; these are not guards that need to remember to tuck in their shirts to look presentable, they are protecting national security.

As a former law enforcement supervisor and a Chief Security Officer, I have had so much cooperation between the public and private sectors and this trend will only continue as private security’s responsibilities increase and police budgets get cut and workloads increase.

John @ 6/6/2012 6:14 PM

The article is a good reminder to those in the security field, particularly for the the security leaders whose job it is to set the example and raise the bar.

The private security industry has a long way to go in improving their image as a whole.

I have been a police supervisor for almost 20 years and have worked as a security director. I've seen unprofessional conduct on both sides. This is more prevelent today due to the lower standards in hiring as compared to 20 or 25 years ago.

There is such a lack of communicative and people skills on the part of police officers as well as security officers

Until there is a national standard or accreditation standard, we will have the same old problems in the industry.

John @ 6/6/2012 11:39 PM

Please note: I'm not related to the previous poster. I mostly agree with previous posters. Here are some of my observations from previous private sector/state gov. security guard employment.

Uniforms: New hires were often assigned shifts (usually graveyard) within 24 hours. Sometimes, agencies didn't have the right size items or they were in poor condition. Also, new hires often didn't have time to shop for shoes, belts, etc. Or, they didn't have money until receiving their first paycheck. Which usually took a month.

Training: there is a serious lack of available security guard training in Washington State. The training that is available is often infrequent, overpriced & distant.

Couresty: L.e.o.'s please inform any on site guards when conducting operations (especially stings). When working as a parking lot guard at a womans health spa, I kept seeing an occupied pick-up truck with a canopy park, leave & then reappear. Intially, I slowly walked around the truck & quite visibly wrote the front plate number down. Eventually, I knocked on the window & told the occupant, "it would be best if you move on". The male driver rolled down his window & responded" I don't think so" as he turned showing his badge. I told him, "I'm sorry". He responded, "no problem, you didn't know". Later, I found out the local police were conducting a "John sting". They even caught an off duty, out of country l.e.o.

Rich @ 6/14/2012 11:10 PM

A comment for John concerning lack of available training for security in WA or anywhere else is invalid. There is virtually an unlimited number of LE, investigative, forensic, homeland security, first responder, terrorism, public safety and supervisory courses available online at no cost it is mind-boggling. you can take course after course till you retire and there's more all the time offered by various accredited institutions and gov't agencies. Troll the "web" and your favorites list will grow to be quite long. Nearly all accept licensed security officers under the law enforcement umbrella and eligible for most of the same classes when you register. As a current private investigator and former military and civilian agency law enforcement officer as well as a security trainer and supervisor, it is about taking the profession seriously as any other public/private enforcement occupation. Perfect uniform appearance, solid education, especially oral and written skills, careful screening of applicants are foremost. The general public looks and sees a professional "officer" and will generally treat you accordingly (except for the bad guys) as will law enforcement take a positive view and work together, not against nor with conflict. Time the image, poor quality of applicants, and "guard" go the way of the tube television. Several small communities in various states contract professional security agencies as their "police service" including response to all calls.

Chief Davis @ 7/31/2013 9:22 AM

I havefound through my many years working security, is that when police officers come to your sight and you are spit shined,they began to develop afriendship with you to the point the know your schedule,and knowyou are goingto do the best job you can do. But it also goes back to TRAINING TRAINING TRAINING

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