Securing Residential Communities: Comprehensive Strategies for Stakeholders

Residential Community Crime Prevention

Securing Residential Communities: Comprehensive Strategies for Stakeholders

In every jurisdiction, communities across the United States are susceptible to individuals with malicious intent. It is crucial for stakeholders to remain vigilant in identifying criminal activities and the individuals involved. However, the impact of these criminal activities often affects the community more than the individuals perpetrating the crimes. Therefore, addressing criminal activity promptly upon discovery should be the top priority for housing operators as it provides the best defense against recurring incidents. Long-term criminal issues typically arise from a failure to identify crime and implement effective mitigation strategies when crimes occur within or near the community or property.

Challenges and Strategies

The management of drug use incidents, gun-related incidents, and other forms of violence has become increasingly challenging in multifamily community environments across the country. Housing owners and managers often struggle with allocating resources and finding the right expertise to handle these issues internally. Dealing with crime and violent incidents in residential communities requires deliberate and proactive action. Passivity will only embolden those involved in such incidents. Strategies must be carefully crafted and executed to gain even the slightest advantage in the fight against criminal activity. It is essential to take a holistic approach, ensuring that policies are enforced, the environment is designed and maintained to prevent crime, residents actively collaborate and communicate with the housing organization and local law enforcement.

Comprehensive Security Measures and Residential Communities

To meet the strategic needs of criminal event mitigation, housing organizations can consider various initiatives suggested by experts in communities of all sizes throughout the United States. Here are fifteen ideas to inspire preventive measures against criminal activities:

    1. Enforce current guest rules and resident lease terms.
    2. Review, strengthen, and enforce tenant leases pertaining to social responsibilities.
    3. Develop a written security program that serves as a roadmap for addressing the organization’s security activities and processes.
    4. Engage in open dialogue with local law enforcement and tap into the resources they can provide.
    5. Discourage unstructured medium/large social gatherings.
    6. Prohibit loitering and trespassing on the property.
    7. Educate residents and visitors about conduct expectations through written materials.
    8. Employ professional security enforcement personnel.
    9. Establish a communication channel for residents to report unsavory behaviors to management and law enforcement.
    10. Utilize social media and technology as tools to enhance security.
    11. Implement community crime prevention practices that have been vetted.
    12. Utilize in-house security expertise and advisors.
    13. Review HUD guidelines for safe housing.
    14. Explore available grant opportunities for assistance.
    15. Seek advice from legal counsel and prosecutorial experts to identify additional lawful options, if necessary.

Investing in Social Capital Strategies for Crime Reduction

In addition to comprehensive security measures, social capital investment strategies also play a vital role in crime control. Social capital investments are rooted in a network of relationships and norms that facilitate cooperation for mutual benefit. They contribute to crime reduction by impeding criminals’ activities, fostering a sense of community ownership, and supporting individuals at risk. Efforts to reduce crime must include a focus on establishing relationships between stakeholders and coordinating actions to address environmental and social factors that contribute to criminal behavior.

Here are some additional examples of how social capital can be utilized to reduce crime:

    • Neighborhood social events: Hosting food gathering events like BBQs and resident competitions for the best-kept and decorated home can foster a sense of community and strengthen relationships among residents. These events provide opportunities for neighbors to connect, build trust, and look out for one another, which can deter criminal activity.
    • Volunteer programs: Encouraging residents to participate in volunteer initiatives, such as community clean-up projects or mentoring programs, can promote social cohesion and create a stronger sense of ownership and pride in the community. When residents actively invest their time and effort in improving the neighborhood, it creates a less favorable environment for criminal behavior.
    • Community education workshops: Organizing workshops on topics such as crime prevention, personal safety, conflict resolution, and mediation can empower residents with knowledge and skills to protect themselves and effectively address issues within the community. By promoting education and awareness, residents become more proactive in maintaining a secure environment.
    • Youth mentorship programs: Establishing mentorship programs that pair responsible adult volunteers with at-risk youth provides positive role models and guidance for young individuals who may be vulnerable to engaging in criminal activities. By offering support and guidance, these programs help steer youth towards productive and law-abiding paths.
    • Community resource centers: Creating community resource centers where residents can access information, support services, and resources related to crime prevention, mental health, substance abuse, and social services can contribute to reducing crime. These centers serve as hubs for residents to seek help and guidance, fostering a safer and more supportive community.

Managing Criminal Activity in Apartment Communities

Managing criminal activity in apartment communities, particularly experiencing drug and gun violence, is a crucial aspect of maintaining a safe and secure living environment for residents. Property managers and landlords play a vital role in implementing effective strategies to prevent and address criminal activity. Here are some ways to manage criminal activity in apartment properties:

    1. Develop a Comprehensive Security Plan: Start by creating a comprehensive security plan tailored to the specific needs of the property. Assess potential vulnerabilities and identify areas where criminal activity is more likely to occur. Consider factors such as lighting, surveillance systems, access control, and alarm systems to enhance security measures.
    2. Install Surveillance Systems: Implementing a robust surveillance system with strategically placed cameras can act as a deterrent for criminal activities. High-quality cameras, both indoors and outdoors, can provide valuable evidence in case of incidents and help identify individuals involved in criminal behavior.
    3. Enhance Access Control: Limiting access to the property is crucial in managing criminal activity. Use key card or keyless entry systems to control who can enter the building and monitor visitor access. Secure all entrances and ensure that locks, gates, and fences are properly maintained to prevent unauthorized entry.
    4. Engage with Law Enforcement: Establish a positive working relationship with local law enforcement agencies. Regularly communicate with them about any concerns or incidents occurring within the property. Request their presence for community events and encourage them to conduct routine patrols around the area.
    5. Implement Background Checks and Tenant Screening: Conduct thorough background checks and tenant screenings to identify potential tenants with a history of criminal activity. This step can help prevent individuals with a propensity for criminal behavior from moving into the property.
    6. Encourage Community Involvement: Foster a sense of community within the property by organizing events and activities that encourage residents to interact with each other. A strong community can be an effective deterrent to criminal activity as neighbors are more likely to look out for each other and report suspicious behavior.
    7. Promptly Address Complaints and Concerns: Encourage residents to report any concerns or suspicious activities promptly. Implement a clear and confidential reporting system and ensure that residents are aware of how to use it. Take every complaint seriously and investigate reported incidents promptly.
    8. Implement a Zero-Tolerance Policy: Clearly communicate a zero-tolerance policy for criminal activity within the property to all residents. Enforce this policy consistently and take appropriate legal action against violators. By doing so, you send a strong message that criminal behavior will not be tolerated.
    9. Provide Security Awareness Training: Organize security awareness programs to educate residents about personal safety, recognizing signs of criminal activity, and the importance of reporting incidents promptly. Encourage residents to take necessary precautions, such as securing their units and reporting any suspicious behavior.
    10. Collaborate with Community Organizations: Engage with local community organizations and resources that specialize in crime prevention and community safety. These organizations can provide valuable insights, resources, and support to help manage criminal activity effectively.

Ongoing Training and Education

Another key component of comprehensive security strategies is providing ongoing training and education for property managers, staff, and residents. Continuous training ensures that all stakeholders are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to implement security protocols, handle emergency situations, and contribute to crime prevention. Property managers and staff should receive regular training on security best practices, incident response procedures, and the effective use of security technology. Residents should be educated on personal safety measures, recognizing signs of criminal activity, and the importance of promptly reporting incidents to the appropriate authorities. By investing in ongoing training and education, stakeholders can create a proactive and knowledgeable community that actively contributes to maintaining a secure living environment.


Managing criminal activity in housing communities requires a comprehensive approach that includes robust security measures, collaboration with community stakeholders, and ongoing training and education. By implementing a combination of preventive measures, leveraging collective efforts and resources, and fostering community engagement, stakeholders can create a safer and more secure living environment for residents. The examples provided in this article, demonstrate the power of social capital in reducing crime and strengthening community bonds.

It is important to recognize that crime prevention is an ongoing effort that requires continuous evaluation, adaptation, and improvement. Stakeholders must remain proactive in staying informed about emerging security threats, technology advancements, and best practices in crime prevention. By staying abreast of new developments, stakeholders can implement innovative strategies and respond effectively to evolving challenges.

Furthermore, fostering open communication and collaboration between stakeholders, including residents, property managers, security professionals, law enforcement agencies, and community organizations, creates a network of support and resources that can be harnessed to address security concerns effectively. By working together, sharing information, and coordinating efforts, stakeholders can develop a united front against criminal activities and foster a sense of collective responsibility for maintaining a safe and secure living environment.

In conclusion, enhancing security strategies for stakeholders in residential communities requires a multifaceted approach that combines comprehensive security measures, community collaboration, and ongoing training and education. By embracing these strategies and investing in social capital, stakeholders can create thriving communities where residents feel safe, connected, and empowered. Ultimately, the collective efforts and commitment of stakeholders pave the way for a more secure and harmonious living environment for all concerned as they set the standard of acceptable behavior for their community.


Enhancing Workplace Safety: The Importance of Utilizing Outside Experienced Experts and The WAVR-21 Assessment

Enhancing Workplace Safety: The Importance of Utilizing Outside Experienced Experts and The WAVR-21 Assessment

Workplace violence is a serious and increasingly prevalent issue, requiring meticulous and impartial assessment for effective mitigation and prevention. It is vital that organizations leverage the expertise of external specialists in workplace violence assessment to navigate this complex and sensitive landscape. These professionals bring a unique blend of neutrality, proficiency, and experience that ensures a comprehensive and accurate evaluation of workplace violence risks.

External experts, unburdened by ties to the company or its employees, offer an unbiased evaluation of workplace violence risks, navigating the situation without being influenced by internal politics or personal relationships. Their impartiality is vital for an unfiltered assessment, identifying potentially hidden or understated risks, thus ensuring an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the situation.

Their specialized knowledge and experience further bolster the effectiveness of their assessments. Equipped with the latest research, industry best practices, and legal requirements associated with workplace violence, these experts can identify early warning signs and devise strategies to counter potential threats. Their in-depth understanding and practical expertise make them invaluable assets in providing sound advice that can significantly mitigate workplace violence risks.

One of the key tools these experts leverage is the Workplace Assessment of Violence Risk (WAVR-21), an empirically based structured professional judgement instrument (SPJ) designed to evaluate the risk of violence within a workplace environment. Developed by leading experts in threat assessment, the WAVR-21 is a comprehensive approach to workplace violence, incorporating 21 dynamic and static factors relevant to this issue.

The WAVR-21’s methodical approach ensures a balanced and accurate evaluation by encouraging the consideration of multiple information sources. It aids in identifying the context and nature of the threat, as well as the personality and situational factors influencing an individual’s behaviors. Crucially, the tool guides the development of effective management and intervention strategies.

The importance of having an outside expert who is properly trained in use of the WAVR-21 instrument cannot be overstated. These professionals have undergone specific training to conduct assessments accurately and effectively. They possess a deep understanding of different risk factors, ensuring an accurate and nuanced assessment. Additionally, they can incorporate the tool into a broader assessment strategy, considering other relevant factors such as organizational culture, policy, and procedures.

WAVR-21 qualified professionals are trained to interpret the results of the assessment in a meaningful way, considering the specific context and dynamics of the workplace. They can provide detailed recommendations for risk reduction measures, intervention strategies, and ongoing management practices, thus ensuring a thorough, informed assessment tailored to the unique circumstances of each workplace.

Another crucial benefit of engaging an outside expert is their ability to maintain confidentiality and trust, often creating a secure environment for employees to express their experiences and concerns. Given the complexities of legal and compliance issues associated with workplace violence, outside experts adept at navigating these regulations and standards can ensure a comprehensive, legally sound assessment, helping organizations avoid potential liabilities.

Upon completion of the assessment, the outside expert can provide expert guidance in developing preventive measures and response protocols. Their recommendations, grounded in industry best practices and tailored to the organization’s specific needs and challenges, strategically equip the organization to prepare for and mitigate potential threats effectively.

In conclusion, engaging a WAVR-21 certified outside expert for workplace violence assessment isn’t just a prudent decision—it’s a vital strategic move that ensures the long-term safety and success of an organization. By combining their expertise with the structured approach of the WAVR-21, these experts ensure a comprehensive evaluation of potential risks and a robust strategy to mitigate workplace violence. The result is a safer, more secure work environment that promotes productivity and employee well-being.

Finding an expert

Finding an expert, specifically a WAVR-21 qualified professional for workplace violence assessment, involves a few steps:

    1. Professional Associations and Organizations: Professional associations related to workplace violence prevention and threat assessment are excellent resources. They also provide resources and information that can be helpful in your search.
    1. Referrals: Talk to peers in your industry or a trusted legal advisor who may have used such services before. They can provide a firsthand account of their experiences and recommend experts they’ve found reliable and competent.
    1. Online Search: A simple online search can also help you identify potential experts. Look for professionals who specialize in workplace violence assessment and are WAVR-21 certified. Ensure to verify their credentials and look for reviews or testimonials.
    1. Training Providers: Institutions that provide WAVR-21 training may also offer consultation services or be able to recommend certified professionals. The creators of WAVR-21, for instance, offer training and consultation services.
    1. Consulting Firms: There are many consulting firms specializing in workplace violence prevention and threat assessment that employ WAVR-21 certified professionals. Look for firms that have a solid reputation and extensive experience.

Once you have identified potential experts, consider the following:

Experience: Check the expert’s experience in workplace violence assessment. How many assessments have they conducted? What types of organizations have they worked with? Do they have experience in your specific industry?

Qualifications: Ensure that they are appropriately trained in use of the WAVR-21 instrument and check for any other relevant qualifications or certifications.

Approach: Talk to them about their approach to violence risk assessment. Does it seem comprehensive and systematic? Does it align with your organization’s needs and culture?

References: Ask for references from previous clients. Reach out to these references to learn about their experiences with the expert.

Remember that the process of finding an expert might take some time, but it is an investment that could potentially save lives, prevent harm, and protect your organization in the long run.


CPTED: A Crucial Piece, But Not the Sole Solution, in Building Safe Communities

CPTED: A Crucial Piece, But Not the Sole Solution, in Building Safe Communities

Florida House Bill 837 (HB 837) aims to enhance the safety and reduce liability risks associated with apartment and multifamily housing. Although a great step in the right direction, a multifaceted approach to effectively combat criminal activity, taking into account various strategies beyond Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is required.

While CPTED leverages urban and architectural design, along with environmental management, to minimize crime and enhance the overall quality of life, it is crucial to understand that it is not an independent solution. Instead, it serves as a supplementary approach that collaborates with other security measures, including law enforcement, security personnel, and most significantly, the active involvement of the community. To effectively safeguard their own communities, it necessitates the establishment of social networks that engage residents.

When combined with other security measures, CPTED can significantly contribute to creating a secure environment that discourages criminal behavior. Several CPTED concepts can be employed to effectively reduce crime:

    1. Territoriality: Fostering a sense of ownership and control over space through physical barriers like fences, walls, and natural elements such as trees and shrubs.
    2. Natural surveillance: Designing spaces to facilitate clear visibility, including the use of windows, doors, and adequate lighting to deter criminal activity.
    3. Access control: Regulating access to spaces through security gates, identification requirements, and other access control methods.
    4. Maintenance: Ensuring spaces are well-maintained and clean, which not only deters criminals but also encourages community members to observe and report suspicious activities.

CPTED principles can be implemented in various settings, including residential, commercial, and institutional areas:

    • Residential areas: Enhancing neighborhood safety by employing strategies such as installing security lighting, improving visibility by trimming trees and shrubs, and establishing neighborhood watch programs.
    • Commercial areas: Promoting business security and customer safety through measures like installing security cameras, improving lighting conditions, and implementing clear access control protocols.
    • Institutional areas: Enhancing safety in schools, hospitals, and other institutions by utilizing strategies such as deploying security guards, enhancing lighting, and implementing access control measures.

CPTED offers several advantages for communities aiming to reduce crime and improve safety:

    1. Reduced crime: By making it more challenging for criminals to operate, CPTED measures decrease the likelihood of criminal activities. For instance, well-placed security lighting can deter crimes in poorly lit areas.
    2. Improved quality of life: CPTED fosters a sense of safety, resulting in increased property values, economic activity, and reduced fear of crime among residents, contributing to an improved overall quality of life.
    3. Increased community involvement: By encouraging ownership and control over the environment, CPTED promotes community engagement. This heightened sense of belonging leads to increased civic participation and a more vibrant community.

To delve deeper into CPTED, one can explore various online and library resources. Additionally, reaching out to local police departments or security companies can provide further information on this topic.

Social capital plays a significant role in reducing crime and fostering community well-being. It encompasses the networks of relationships and norms that enable cooperation for mutual benefit, particularly in communities with strong social ties and trust among residents. Social capital offers several advantages in crime reduction:

    1. Crime prevention: Strong social ties make it difficult for criminals to operate within a community. When individuals know and trust one another, they are more inclined to report suspicious activities and intervene to prevent crime.
    2. Sense of community ownership: Social capital fosters a sense of ownership and pride in the community, motivating residents to actively care for their surroundings and remain vigilant against criminal activities.
    3. Support for at-risk individuals: Social networks provide resources and support to individuals who may be susceptible to engaging in criminal behavior. Job opportunities, childcare, and other assistance from these networks help individuals stay on a positive path.

Collectively, residents, law enforcement and public agencies, businesses, and property managers, all interact to shape a community. Crime reduction efforts must include a focus on building relationships between these stakeholders and coordinating action toward the common purpose of reducing environmental and social conditions that contribute to crime.


Florida House Bill 837 (HB 837) and Apartment and Multifamily Properties: Walk, Don’t Run

HB 837 Multifamily Properties

Florida House Bill 837 (HB 837) and Apartment and Multifamily Properties: Walk, Don’t Run

Florida House Bill 837 (HB 837) aims to reduce liability risks for apartment and multifamily housing property owners who implement specific crime prevention measures based on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles and have a documented CPTED assessment. To comply with Florida House Bill 837 and reduce your security and crime-related liability risks, ensure your properties meet the following physical property requirements:

    • Install security camera systems at points of entry and exit, with footage maintained for at least 30 days.
    •  Ensure the parking lot is well-lit with an average intensity of at least 1.8 foot-candles per square foot at 18 inches above the surface, from dusk until dawn or controlled by photocell or similar technology.
    • Provide adequate lighting in walkways, laundry rooms, common areas, and porches, with illumination from dusk until dawn or controlled by photocell or similar technology.
    • Install at least a 1-inch deadbolt in each dwelling unit door.
    • Provide locking devices on all windows, exterior sliding doors, and any other doors not used for community purposes.
    • Install locked gates with key or fob access along pool fence areas.
    • Place a peephole or door viewer on each dwelling unit door without a window or without a window next to the door.

In addition to these physical measures, property owners must comply with the following procedural requirements:

    • Obtain a CPTED assessment completed and documented by a law enforcement agency or a Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Practitioner (FCP) no more than three years old. F.S. 768.0706(2)(b) further requires that property owners remain in mostly in “substantial compliance” with the assessment.
    • Provide proper crime deterrence and safety training to current employees by January 1, 2025. After this date, offer such training to all employees within 60 days of hiring.

Implementing these measures allows you to take advantage of the presumption against liability outlined in F.S. 768.0706(2) and reduce the risk of being held responsible for criminal acts committed by third parties on your property. Always stay informed about any updates or amendments to the bill, and consider consulting a legal professional from CIS to ensure full compliance.

It is highly recommended to conduct a preliminary assessment before the actual CPTED survey. This assessment helps property managers and owners determine the extent of work needed to achieve compliance and establish whether it is realistically possible to become compliant. Beyond the itemized conditions specified in HB 837, Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design assessments encompass a much broader range of issues (e.g., landscaping design and maintenance, illumination in areas other than parking lots, etc.) and property owners will be expected to be in compliance with far more conditions than suggested by the list in F.S. 768.0706(2). Engaging in a documented CPTED assessment without knowing the costs and implications of compliance could lead to increased liabilities and vulnerability to plaintiff attorney complaints if the property fails to meet the required standards.

To minimize potential liability risks, consider the following steps before engaging in a full CPTED assessment:

    1. Perform a preliminary assessment with a qualified security professional: Review the requirements of HB 837 and evaluate your property’s current security measures against the criteria specified in F.S. 768.0706(2) and common CPTED standards. This will help identify areas that need improvement.
    2. Consult with a professional: Seek advice from a property management consultant, security expert, or legal professional to discuss your preliminary findings and understand the potential consequences of non-compliance.
    3. Develop a plan: Based on the self-assessment and expert advice, create a plan outlining the steps, resources, and timeline needed to bring your property into compliance.
    4. Communicate with stakeholders: Inform your team, residents, and other relevant parties about the planned improvements and their potential impact on property operations and safety.
    5. Monitor progress: Regularly review the implementation of the plan to ensure that improvements are made according to the established timeline, and adjust the plan as needed.

By taking these steps, you can minimize potential liability risks and be better prepared for a formal CPTED assessment. Keep in mind that achieving compliance is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and improvement. Stay informed about any updates or amendments to HB 837 and collaborate with experts and local authorities to maintain a safe and secure environment for your residents.


CEO KC Poulin Testifies in Front of Task Force at “Stand Your Ground” Meeting

At the July 10, 2012 Stand Your Ground Task Force meeting in Arcadia, KC Poulin along with Patty Schmitt, CEO of Aegis Protective Services, sat as invited panelists and offered perspective regarding the relationship between Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and the private security industry as well as insight on the concerns surrounding amendment to the law from the industry’s viewpoint. The 19-member Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, convened by Governor Rick Scott, is charged with conducting a full-scale examination of Florida’s controversial law and reporting recommendations to the Governor and lawmakers prior to the start of the next legislative session in March of next year. The Florida law has come under intense nationwide scrutiny in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting in February. Enacted in 2005, Stand Your Ground permits the use of deadly force if a person fears imminent serious injury or death and imposes no duty to retreat. During the meeting, Poulin and Schmitt provided the Task Force with an overview of the services provided by the private protection industry, along with relevant industry data and statistical information and fielded specific questions that provided “food for thought” on this important and contemporary issue. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is widely debated for its ambiguity, application and the surprisingly different results it yields when proffered as a defense. Any revision of the law is likely to impact the private security industry and operating procedures. To view Poulin and Schmitt’s discussion with the Task Force in its entirety, click on the links below. ABC Action News The Florida Channel

Resisting the Illusory Mindset of “Efficiency” While Providing Public Safety


Effective communication is the bedrock of balancing performance and perception in the private security and safety industry. It is a challenge the profession must not underestimate. Breakdowns in communication may result in loss of clients, high employee turnover, harm to life and property, and lawsuits.

Because the stakes are so high, private security and safety agencies must dedicate themselves to the development, articulation, and practice of methods that allow for on-going evaluation of client needs and service delivery. That assessment process, as illustrated in these pages, is one that shares decision-making among managers and front-line practitioners. In so doing, private security and safety businesses can provide clients with tailor-made solutions to problems in the diverse environments where they live and work.

How does performance in our arena meet the perception of clients, employees, peers, the public, and the industry as a whole? What kind of model is the best model for ensuring such excellence in leadership? In this essay, we posit that management of systems, methodology, and infrastructure involves assessing an agency’s efficiency and effectiveness through thoughtful discretionary use of procedures and control points in areas of operations, in which effectiveness takes precedent over efficiency in the overall performance model. Moreover, we maintain that high quality leadership in private security and safety harmonizes performance and perception by allowing front-line practitioners to follow the “science” of procedures while also permitting them to practice the art of adaptation in day-to-day operations. With these ideas in mind, we offer private security and safety leaders a fresh model upon which they may formulate their agencies’ strategic decisions and tactical actions.

In the pages that follow, we explore the interplay of main viewpoints that influence the outputs of this decisional model, the types of environments that influence the strategic and tactical choices embedded within those outputs, and the essential kinds of strategic analysis and tactical actions for application in those environments. Afterward, we reconsider the implications for leadership in private security and safety by challenging private security and safety leaders to resist the temptation of purist efficiency models that may prove counterproductive in the communities they are charged to protect.

End-Users, Officers, and Command Staff: An Interplay of Main Viewpoints

Explanation of a model for judging how well clients and private security and safety agencies perceive performance necessitates an overview of the viewpoints of the model’s primary stakeholders: end-users, officers, and command staff.

The first viewpoint is that of end-users, who have their own sets of expectations for private security and safety services. For example, if an agency were providing uniformed security services in a bank, then the bank client, bank employees, and customers would be the end-users of that agency’s services.

The expectations of end-users influence their perception of agency performance. Formation of their viewpoint hinges upon the actual service delivery by front-line practitioners. In addition, end-users base their judgment of that service delivery on the actions of officers and their interactions with them. In other words, end-users formulate judgments about quality of service on their daily relational experiences with the officers assigned to them. Having formed those judgments without prior objective knowledge about why officers act in a particular manner, they interpret the effectiveness of agency performance through a filter of subjectivity. These end-users perceive, accurately or not, agency performance.

The second viewpoint is that of officers, who are the front-line practitioners providing service delivery to agency clients. These individuals also form their own viewpoints about the performance of their duties, especially whether they meet end-user and command staff expectations.

The interpretation by officers of the services being delivered may be very different than that of end-users. For example, officers may believe that their performance is satisfactory because they know they are conducting security operations within agency protocol. End-users, however, may not hold the same view. This discrepancy could be caused by very minor things, such as the appearance of the officers, to more business-oriented issues, such as the officers not being customer-friendly toward guests of the assigned facility.

The third viewpoint is that of command staff, who are responsible for the security deployment of front-line practitioners. Moreover, command staff answer to executive staff, who themselves hold the responsibility of maintaining positive client relations. These combined senior staff may formulate a very different view than either that of end-users receiving or officers providing agency services. Managing practitioners interpret the quality of performance in the field from a different place and from a different angle. Invariably, these managing practitioners form their opinions based on limited information that surfaces to the top of the chain of command from the field and from the clients.

Unless managing practitioners are aggressive in their communicating directly with the field and its end-users, information may surface only when problems have escalated beyond the point of being managed effectively in the field. When information reflecting perceptions of unsatisfactory service becomes available to command and executive staff, it often comes as a surprise to them.

While private security and safety agencies should encourage field supervision staff to try to solve problems at their level, those same agencies should expect nonetheless that any bad news will be shared up the line of communication to senior staff. For, if not, the breach in communication may result in an error of perception: Managers will believe that performance in the field is satisfactory until the bad news surfaces. They will be that last to learn that performance does not equal perception.

Nor should absence of end-user complaints or concerns about performance equate to the automatic assumption of client satisfaction. For example, managing practitioners assigned to oversee accounts may become aware of serious operational problems that have been festering for months, yet have not received a complaint from end-users until a totality of circumstances come into sharp focus during a client meeting.

Figure 1

Primary Stakeholders’ Fractured Perceptions of Agency Performance

As illustrated in the diagram above, it is entirely possible that end-users, officers, and command staff may hold fractured perceptions of agency performance. In our experience and discussed in depth below, models of efficiency giving rise to measurable, procedure-driven tactics in the field contribute to the illusions these stakeholders may hold. When there are breakdowns in communication among all three groups about performance expectations, the illusions of these stakeholders shatter. In turn, this creates a very difficult environment to assess and analyze. At that point, problems can reach critical mass and that is when an agency is met with litigation and loss of reputation.

Leaders in private security and safety are responsible for protecting people who have entrusted their security and safety to those leaders. If all individuals working in the private security and safety industry act with that in mind, balancing performance and perception is achievable. Individual actions produce consequences that may cascade throughout an entire organization, for better or worse. So when command and executive staff do learn about problems in the field, their role is to assess the problem, sort out truth from fiction, and then arrive at corrective measures for correcting the dysfunction in the most expedient manner. The charge of managers is to make sure that the reality of performance is equal to the perception of what our end-users believe agency field-practitioners should be doing.

A Feedback Model for Balancing Performance and Perception

In this section, we articulate a feedback model of combined strategic and tactical decision-making to reach an agency’s desired equilibrium of performance and perception.

First, private security and safety leaders define the types of environments they are charged to protect. They may recognize these environments, generally, as static and dynamic.


Second, in consideration of those types of environments, private security and safety leaders then ask certain questions: “To what extent do we care that we are effective?” “To what extent do we care that we are efficient?” “To what extent do we emphasize the role of control points? and “To what extent do we emphasize the role of procedures?”


Whereas the first and second questions above focus on the mindset of managing practitioners who operate an agency, the third and fourth questions focus on front-line practitioners who work in the field. Moreover, while efficiency and effectiveness underpin strategic decision-making by agency managers, procedures and control points involve tactical decision-making for front-line practitioners.

The significance of these aggregate business and operational concepts are further explored in the sub-sections that follow. For the remainder of this section, however, we offer some basic assumptions about them:

  • In a purely static environment, efficiency and procedures might be an agency’s guiding principles; whereas in a purely dynamic environment, effectiveness and control points might produce the results that agency seeks.
  • A comprehensive approach to addressing performance and perception dilemmas, assessment of efficiency and effectiveness further enables private security and safety leaders to define priorities within the organization and analyze conflicts among end-users, officers, and command staff.

Furthermore, how we think about and apply these concepts in different environments will determine how well our performance squares with the perceptions of our end-users, officers, and command staff.

In the static environment, say an industrial or manufacturing facility, how agencies and their end-users perceive agency performance may mean ensuring that certain gauges are read within certain parameters, certain doors are opened and closed at given times, or that this or that switch is in its correct position. As such, these mechanical things need to be checked regularly and adjusted as necessary.

At the other end of this spectrum, the dynamic environment, perhaps an apartment community in a culturally diverse and crime-ridden community, how end-users and agencies perceive performance means something poles apart from what is meant in the manufacturing plant, which is more measurable than the apartment complex.

So, on the one end private security and safety leaders have a static environment where only a few variables need monitoring, and on the other end they have a very dynamic environment where there is an infinite number of variables at play at any given time (Figure 2).


Figure 2

Area of Operations Spectrum

Estimation of the nature of that area of operations determines our selection of procedures and control points–those tactical possibilities to help determine how to manage and direct a chosen level of efficiency in order to achieve a desired goal of effectiveness (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Tactical Possibilities for Static and Dynamic Areas of Operations

The process of analysis leading to judgment about whether effectiveness or efficiency represents primary managerial concern and whether procedures or control points represents primary tactical concern is similar to that of the OODA model used by military planners in their own areas of operations. The acronym stands for “Orientation, Observation, Decision, Action.” This model is intended for upper-level managers far removed from the battlespace inasmuch as it is intended for boots on the ground. When confronted with a particular area of operations, planners and troops orient themselves to that space, observe it, decide what to do about it, and take action in it. The feedback model may be repeated as necessary, in order to make adjustments based on the needs of the moment. So in effect, the exercise of leadership is not limited to those at the highest rungs in the chain of command.

The hypothetical cases below illustrate how private security and safety agencies might make strategic decisions and take tactical actions in purely static or purely dynamic environments, based on their questions about the roles of efficiency, effectiveness, procedures, and control points in those areas of operations.

Decisional Analysis and Action for Static Environments

For purposes of illustration, a facility with highly pressurized machinery is an example of a static environment. In this environment, machines and not humans dominate the lay of the land. The private, closed, mechanical nature of this facility renders what happens inside it highly predictable. Assigned to protect such a facility, an agency would conduct an initial assessment of it by orienting itself to and observing that environment.

For managers in our industry, that geographical area of operations is unambiguous and easy to measure. Therefore, in terms of strategic assessment for meeting client security and safety needs in this scenario, those same managers invariably would apply an efficiency model for managing its resources and measuring its performance. A model of efficiency will have been sought because it is feasible in this highly static environment.

At this point in the feedback loop, agency managers will have moved from orientation and observation and into a decisional phase leading to action involving the agency’s implementation of an operational plan and deployment of resources. A “scientific” strategic and tactical plan will have been selected.

What our industry refers to as the “science” of safety holds our attention in many ways, from forensics to the employment of technology to target vulnerabilities assessments to patrol procedures. Furthermore, this “science” delivers a managerial method, systematizing policies and procedures and fostering intelligent planning and resource usage. Often, “science” equates to a default setting for operations. I maintain that this is a valid approach for static environments but–and as I will illustrate below–is invalid for dynamic ones.

Often thought of as a set of linear exactitudes to lead front-line practitioners through specific routines, procedures offer a blueprint of efficiency for day-to-day routines. Many patrol services, for example, require their officers utilize DETEX or similar control devices commonly referred to as “guard tour systems” to ensure that front-line practitioners properly work “according to plan.” With these systems, patrol officers are given timetables to maintain (i.e., procedures), which creates a ruler to measure performance. Usually, establishing patrol routes along with time frames dictate how much time is spent at each location. This time allotment could be around 15 minutes and might involve three or four visits per night at each location.

These systems of tactical action deliver excellent performance in static environments where machinery–as opposed to humans–is the major feature of the environment. Established tour system routines allow officers to go from one critical asset to the next, repeating the safety patrol as needed. Hence, in the case of a facility requiring the protection of critical fixed assets, the tour system is an appropriate tool for achieving an agency’s performance.

In this scenario, front-line practitioners working in the facility with highly pressurized machinery are analogous to trains running on a set of tracks. Tracks restrict the movement of the train, permitting little deviation with no adverse effect on performance. The train travels at a certain speed, makes certain stops, and–barring extraordinary circumstances–arrives to its destinations on time.

Decisional Analysis and Action for Dynamic Environments

In contrast to the facility with highly pressurized machinery, an apartment complex in a high-risk community exemplifies a dynamic environment. In this environment, humans are abundant, diverse, and unpredictable. This environment is also more public and open than the facility with machines in it.

In having oriented themselves to and in having observed the high-risk apartment complex, leaders in private safety will have made strategic decisions and implemented tactical actions decidedly different than those in the scenario above.

In a dynamic environment, the “science” of the security profession still matters; however, at this end of the continuum what leaders may call the “art” of safety is essential to successful agency performance. “Art” implies creative adaptation to particular circumstances instead of adherence to fixed operational plans. “Art” also allows friendship to develop between those entrusted with providing safety and those who require the service. “Art” also involves honesty, character, and integrity in the functional aspects of that same service. Furthermore, “art” implies a meaningful understanding of the constituencies served, with the promise to listen and respond in ways that are consistent with community needs.

The artistic components of practitioners’ skill sets allow them to be effective at working through the human predicaments they encounter in the field. “Art” expressly requires that the protection firm be engaged for the long haul in the life of the community being protected. In addition, “art” allows the practitioner to consider alternatives to community problems identified that may not necessarily be real legal matters. In large part, performing the “art” of the safety profession allows the practitioner to address demanding tasks with interpersonal communication skills with sophistication and sensitivity.

Control Points and the “Art” of “Anti-Procedures”

Because the procedural metrics used for static environments lose their value to managers in dynamic environments, agencies instead may use control points, which give front-line practitioners that much-needed flexibility to manage areas of operations.

Control points are sets of parameters carried out with the promise of resolving effectively any given situation without dictating how. They are loosely defined, couched in non-specific terms. Moreover, control points are behavioral guidelines for practitioners. They are painted with broad brushstrokes allowing practitioners to bring their own “art” to the canvas, instead of someone else’s paint-by-number system that diminishes imagination.

In contrast to procedures, control points are not regimented schemes of metrics and directives that are better suited for static environments. So as environments become more and more dynamic, managers can phase out procedures and bring in control points, allowing for adaptive decision-making in dynamic environments.

Whereas procedures intentionally create structure focused at providing consistency in delivery of services, control points are markers enabling front-line practitioners’ ingenuity to play as large a role as possible.

In a dynamic environment like the aforementioned apartment complex, a more efficiency-focused model never can deliver the requisite flexible platform for solving human-related problems. That is because dynamic environments resist codified routines like the “guided tour system,” which is based on the most minimum resources required.

Indeed, reliance on such “old favorites” may prove counterproductive and perhaps even illusory. Not meaningful in the dynamic landscapes our front-line practitioners are assigned, procedures can be downright dangerous, in terms of the liability, if agencies insist on using them.

Procedures and control points also differ from one another in that procedures are based on an individual’s ability to follow orders and to work within a strict regiment of behavioral patterns. Procedures tell front-line practitioners who to be, what to do, when to do it, and where to do it.

As depicted in the diagram below, procedures dominate and limit what I call the “decision space” of front-line practitioners, assuming there is any.

Figure 4

Encroachment of Procedures on Front-line Practitioner’s

However, control points center upon why officers do what they do or what the purpose of their function is. They compel officers to consider the underlying philosophy of their actions.

More importantly, control points promote leadership where, arguably, it is needed most, in the communities private security and safety agencies serve. As depicted in the diagram below, control points expand the decision space of front-line practitioners.

Paradoxically, and further articulated in the next sub-section below, application of anti-control points is predicated on the need in a dynamic environment to expand decision space (Figure 5).

Figure 5

Expansion of Front-line Practitioners’ Abilities to Make Effective Choices in Dynamic Environments
Toward Further Determination of Tactical Choices:

Control Points and Anti-Control Points

Within its feedback model, we further distinguish between control points and anti-control points that determine the decisions and actions undertaken in an area of operations. We make this distinction because even a set of parameters could become meaningless in some of the dynamic environments in which front-line practitioners operate.

With anti-control points managers purposefully do not task officers with specificity in their routes. Either they intentionally eliminate control points from the tactical schema, or they never implement them; and in so doing, or not doing, managers increase the range of decision space in their areas of operations. In turn, officers may apply their own creative powers to intelligently work in those dynamic environments.

Anti-control points pose particular implications for accountability. As managers remove control points from the dynamic environment, estimation officers’ performance shifts toward the back end of an assignment, such as when GPS tracking data are compared and contrasted with officers’ incident and time reports, and then later compared and contrasted with data gleaned from end-users. This requires more work on behalf of supervisors in that they themselves must synthesize data, formulating a holistic picture of whether performance and perception are in balance.

Finally, the nature of decision-making changes with application of anti-control points, increasing what is commonly called the “bottom-up” style. Decisions made by front-line practitioners hinge upon a strong sense of trust between command staff and officers in the field. That is because the difference between the two control points subgroups is predicated upon, one, the degree of influence exerted by command staff on practitioners in the field, and two, the level of freedom held by practitioners in the field to decide what kinds of decisions and actions they take–excepting, of course, company policies, ethics, and rule of law. As managers forfeit their direct decisional control to officers, they hand over their decisional freedom to those same officers. In the process, the concept of leadership is further infused among all rungs of the agency.

To further illustrate by example the role of anti-control points, recall first from the vehicle deployment scenario above that managers have charged officers with the responsibility to visit a given set of sites, in effect, telling them that they must do what they must at those sites in order to be effective. In that scenario, managers might have provided some directives and metrics in the form of reporting requirements or site specifics, and they might further monitor those same officers through GPS, the same reporting requirements, and client feedback. These are all control points.

But what if some of the control points were removed from front-line practitioners’ frames of reference? To invoke once again the multi-lane highway example, the concrete median (i.e., a control point) now no longer exists, offering opposing lanes of traffic more options for maneuver. Only the guardrails remain, or in the case of vehicle deployment, the area of operations itself.

Or comparatively, in the example of the apartment complex, removal of a control point would involve the absence of a mandate that officers visit certain locations within an assigned area of operations. In turn, officers may visit all locations in the area of operations, depending on the needs of the day and knowledge about the environment.

In other words, in deciding to use anti-control points to expand decision space in the field, managers say to officers, “Here is an area of operations for you to manage, you know what kinds of tools you have in your box to manage it, so we trust you to use those tools at your discretion.”

Control Points and the Character of Front-line Practitioners

In order to be effective in private security and safety, field practitioners need the flexibility of control points to think on their own when faced with human-generated conflicts. In turn, those same parameters raise the bar of standards for the types of front-line practitioners agencies hire: officers must possess excellent critical thinking ability, communication skills, personal demeanor, self-possession, empathy, sensitivity, focus, total commitment, and a host of other attributes that form the foundation for practitioners to be effective within the security environment.

Control points also rely on the honor, integrity, intelligence, and free will of practitioners, while procedures reinforce traits of consistency that would otherwise cause every employee act the same way in every situation–or, worse yet, not at all. Uniformity is very efficient; however, in the amorphous environments where private safety agencies operate, it isn’t necessarily effective. Private security and safety agencies must seek artistic practitioners who take the tools they have and work within a control point environment while staying within the spirit of the policy guidelines. Artistic practitioners are people who effectively utilize such latitude with responsible, sober conduct.

If agencies were confronted with purely static areas in which managers might select only procedures as the appropriate means for producing good results in area of operations, front-line practitioners need not possess such character. Agencies could lower standards by hiring people who are merely good at following linear orders, who can count, and who can fill out a simple form. The reality is, however, that most areas of operations are a mixed environment combined with mechanical things or buildings requiring periodic safety and security checks and people requiring an understanding that transcends tight procedural controls. In that mixed environment, managers and practitioners can employ both procedures and control points, recognizing that the more dynamic the decision space is, the more significant control points and anti-control points become in the operational schema. Minimum resources coupled with routines premised on minimum effort become therefore a secondary support mechanism–a “bolt-on” strategy that is usually in the form of a procedure to make a function operate more smoothly in a mixed environment.

So effectiveness supersedes efficiency in this feedback model for determining performance. A focus on efficiency and its tempting reliance on procedures never can deliver the requisite flexible platform for solving human-related issues. Efficiency models should not undermine performance. To the contrary, they should enhance it. When human lives are at risk, effectiveness must be the measuring stick of success. This is especially true in operating private security and safety agencies. Effectiveness should be the end result leaders in private security and safety look for in order for their agencies to grow responsibly while maintaining their reputations for excellence.

Implications for Leadership: Avoiding “Efficiency Creep”

How can we call ourselves “leaders” if efficiency is all that we are and procedures are all that we do? How can we call ourselves “leaders” if only the managers in our agencies think of themselves as “leaders’?

Leaders in the private security and safety industry are responsible for “getting the job done” and in taking corrective action when that job is not “getting done.” In that respect, efficiency and effectiveness organizational assessment models remain a constant source of concern. We maintain, therefore, that inflexible procedures and efficiency-based models of strategy and tactics are counterproductive illusions in the dynamic environments we are charged to protect.

Experience suggests that our primary stakeholders become disillusioned when we have let the linear mindset of efficiency seep in because efficiency-driven decisions undermine our mission to protect life and property. One example to which most can relate involves our nation’s efforts to reduce school crime. Here, we have seen the proliferation of zero-tolerance policies in K-12 education. Zero-tolerance allows no leeway in decision-making, stifling the art of practicing public safety. Most readers have heard of zero-tolerance cases in which policy is interpreted so uncompromisingly that schools have expelled students in good standing and no history of criminal behavior. A young woman with a bottle of Midol given to her by her mother should not be characterized as if she were in possession of illicit drugs. A student who inadvertently leaves a kitchen knife in her car after a family picnic should not be treated as a criminal in possession of a lethal weapon. Similarly, the latitude we give our officers is essential for turning crime-ridden, moribund environments into enclaves of peace and vitality. On a case-by-case basis, officers need room to draw distinctions.

Where managers think and worry about efficiency, strategic minds think and worry about effectiveness. The great leader merges the two. He sets the stage for expectations of effectiveness and how that can be gauged. He also creates metrics that allow performance to be monitored so managers can ensure it is line with, or working toward the ultimate goal of effectiveness. More importantly, however, the great leader infuses the concept of leadership throughout the entire organization by implementing performance models that encourage front-line practitioners to fully realize their creative faculties.

Even outside the private security and safety arena, efficiency is the standard for measuring how well a business performs. Efficiency is the desired focus, and rightly so, because efficiency under the right conditions does achieve great performance. McDonalds is a good general example of efficiency leading and affecting good performance. Fast food establishments are so efficient that they can deliver a hamburger meal, made to order, within a few minutes of ordering. For McDonalds to be efficient makes them effective at delivering fast food because this is the service they provide.

Private security and safety, however, does not and cannot have that same luxury. Indeed, lowering quality is anathema to the security and safety imperatives of services private security and safety leaders provide. Emphasizing efficiency models as primary means to deliver services and to determine performance is irresponsible in those dynamic areas of operations where resources are deployed. For example, emphasizing efficiency to deliver services that revolve around human conflict hinders front-line practitioners’ ability to perform, dampening the impact a practitioner may bear on a given situation. Ultimately, efficiency models create an environment where poor perception of services becomes the end result of efforts.

In addition to fast food restaurants, other businesses rely upon efficiency models because the nature of those businesses demands an efficiency standard. Overnight package delivery services like FedEx or UPS rely on efficiency as a primary strategy to accomplish their business model in order to accomplish effectiveness. For example, if FedEx delivers a package in good condition by 10am the next morning, it was efficient in its systems, which enabled them to be effective in delivering that package by a deadline and ultimately in performing the services FEDEX sells. In turn, FEDEX entertains high customer satisfaction. This represents a good example of perception equaling performance through a proper balance of efficiency and effectiveness.

Despite the potential risks (e.g., death or personal injury, loss of assets, loss of credibility, lawsuits), private security and safety businesses typically favor efficiency for assessing how well they operate and serve their clients. They focus on efficiency in large part because application of instruments, means, and actions is easier to manage and measure. The larger the agency, the truer this is. Efficiency is unambiguous, whereas effectiveness is not.

Given that the private security and safety industry differs from fast delivery services such as FEDEX or UPS, the goal of private security and safety is not driven by expediency. In addition, we also should agree that the McDonalds approach of fast and cheap for lower quality food is not a responsible model for implementing protective services. So the question then becomes, “How do we ensure that the perception of our services equals our performance and that efficiency does not hinder effectiveness?”

This question is as important to answer on a day-to-day operational level as it is at the agency level. Indeed, attention to that question is vital for the growth of any private agency. In performing services involving client and end-user problems, it stands to reason private security and safety leaders want to be effective at it and not just efficient, for effectiveness signifies the ultimate standard of operational success, client retention, and client acquisition. Therefore, our managing practitioners bear responsibility for creating an environment that allows our front-line practitioners to perform the art of their profession without being constrained by stringent standards and procedures. In so doing, they allow the proverbial “boots on the ground” to be leaders, too.

Performing this art of managing situations, interacting with people, and trouble-shooting the dynamics constantly at play in the environments the private security and safety arena protects necessitates as much flexibility as can be leveraged in any given situation. For that reason, the feedback model proposed in this essay prefers effectiveness and control points for strategic decision-making and tactical applications in the field. This model is the most sensible, realistic one to apply. While the model involves strategies and tactics that are difficult to measure, achieving equilibrium between performance and perception requires that private security and safety businesses manage the process by not reducing their decisions to one-size-fits-all approaches. They do this by resisting exclusive reliance on dehumanizing, mechanized systems. By not following the proverbial “plan,” they achieve success–although they might not be able to measure it.

2005 July 7th London Attacks

2005 July 7th London Attacks

In these interviews, CIS President K.C. Poulin discusses the July 7th 2005 London terrorist attacks with news radio stations.

Audio: “July 7th London Attacks 1”
(5.40MB, Mp3)

Audio: “July 7th London Attacks 2”
(5.37MB, Mp3)