Prioritizing physical security outcomes while maximizing your budget in a fluctuating economic environment

Given the current market, marked by volatility, inflation and high interest rates, flexible security budgets are important. Being strategic about using low-cost resources when and where you can, while guarding the most important posts and assets with higher-end resources, helps security departments play their part in making operation expenses responsive to market conditions.  

As we head into the end-of-year budgeting discussions, the time is now to consider all options and take stock of the issues and opportunities that come with every security solution.

Assess needs and inventory options for response

It’s wise to do an annual inventory of risks. Ask when and where your company faces the greatest risk -- those that could damage the company’s future ability to operate -- and determine where you will benefit most from a higher level of security coverage and where you can cover your bases and secure assets with less expensive solutions like cameras, alarm systems or guards. 

Having charted risk according to severity, consider your response to those risks and challenge conventional thinking with questions like: 

  • Are we stationing existing full-time employees strategically and effectively to protect people and property?
  • Are there opportunities to use technology vs. more expensive personnel? 
  • Are we making the most of the systems we have in place?
  • Do we need to upgrade anti-theft technologies?
  • Do we need to add personnel - either full-time or contract - and if so what areas would have the highest impact?

There are a few tiers of security solutions. From lower cost to highest, they are: tools & technology, full-time employees, contract security and off-duty police officers. Using each strategically can help the security department to be good stewards of the broader company’s resources. Enlisting a 3rd party security partner can also help provide guidance on best practices and provide an assessment to help businesses create custom solutions. 

Lowest cost - technology

Technology has been a boon to security directors, freeing up staff to focus on more strategic needs. Beyond crime prevention, tech tools are helping advance training for security staff with virtual and augmented reality tools.

Security robots and cameras keep an eye on facilities. Access controls make it easy to keep bad actors at bay and know exactly who entered which area of a facility, making intervention easier. Access gates, badge readers and intercoms go a long way toward deterring, detecting, and delaying issues and incidents. Electronic article surveillance systems and RFID tags have become more streamlined, sophisticated and affordable to mitigate shrink at retail sites.  

Mid-tier – guards

Security guards can also have a positive impact on the safety of a business and can be a good fit in a low-risk situation. Like police officers, security guards provide a uniformed presence on site. They are an obvious signal that someone is keeping watch. Security guards are also at liberty to focus on rules you want them to enforce (whereas officers abide by and enforce local, city or state laws). If there is a dress code rule, for instance, your security officer can enforce it. For the most part, they work at the business’s discretion.

Some concern has arisen -- and was recently reported in TIME Magazine -- over the explosive growth of the guard industry, without commiserate regulatory oversight. The lack of rules and regulations governing the security industry, coupled with little training and low pay, has seemingly created as much of a problem as it has contributed to security solutions. Some civilians feel uneasy with the increased presence of guns, held by largely minimally trained, or untrained, guards. And by virtue of their lack of training, guards are put into unsafe situations.

Rick McCann, the founder of Private Officer International, an association for security officers, tracks trends in the industry. McCann estimates that: 

  • 309 security officers have been arrested for manslaughter or murder while on duty.
  • Approximately 13,000 assaults on security officers occur every year.
  • 145 security officers die on duty each year, 85% of whom are murdered.

Which is all to say, consider the source and know your guard service provider. Dig deep on guard training, processes and procedures. Think strategically about the details assigned to guards, keeping in mind training limitations and the concerns of civilians they’re there to protect.

Upper echelon - off-duty police officers

Uniformed police officers have a presence and authority that makes a would-be criminal think twice before committing a crime. Police officers are highly trained and well-versed in local and state laws. They’re well equipped not only to recognize a threat but also know the legal parameters of response. They are further trained in a Use of Force continuum and adhere to these high standards in a private security capacity. As a result, the presence of an officer often makes citizens feel more comfortable. 

Additionally, should the need arise to call supplemental law enforcement to the site, or even emergency medical technicians, your off-duty officer has accessibility, and knows what to do and say, to ensure they arrive promptly. 

In the event of any kind of legal action against the business – in response to something as benign as a fall or more serious like allegations of discrimination – an on-site officer is trained to and usually experienced in providing courtroom testimony. They will know what to look out for and document should a difficult situation arise that could lead to a lawsuit.

In addition to being well-trained and -versed in local laws, when you employ off-duty officers, you augment a local officer’s income and build community connectedness and pride. 

Regardless of which option or mix of options you choose for your business, it starts with taking stock of the issues and opportunities that come with each security solution. By taking a flexible approach to budgeting and solutions, security departments can help make operational expenses responsive to business needs and market conditions without sacrificing the physical safety and security of assets, employees and patrons.

Let Summit Off-Duty Services connect you with off-duty police officer protection for your business or event. Our experienced team can help you design the right security protocols and line up officers from our vast, nationwide network of 60,000 officers.