The first step that Boston Properties took was to enhance its security officer corps. “We developed a small group of highly specialized officers that we called the Enhanced Security Team to augment the regular security forces,” explains Snow.
Boston Properties contracts out its security staffing to AlliedBarton Security Services. Members of the Enhanced Security Team must have a law enforcement or military background, or be college graduates with a degree in security or criminal justice. They also must pass rigorous physical skill and agility tests.
The team wears uniforms like those of a police special operations unit. They carry pepper spray for self-defense. A select portion of the officers attend a special 100-hour training course, including topics such as use of force and evidence processing so that the City of Boston Police Department can grant them full powers of arrest while within Prudential Center’s boundaries.
When the Enhanced Security Team was rolled out at Prudential Center in 2002, “It was immediately well-received by the management, the tenants, customers, and visitors,” says Snow. “The team members looked sharp and professional, yet were very approachable with a customer service orientation. We thought, ‘Why stop here? Why not take the program to the next level?’ The Enhanced Security Team became our current Patrol Division.”
The patrol officers start each shift with a police-style roll call headed by a shift manager. During this meeting, the officers are informed on issues of special concern, such as a rash of shopliftings of certain items or a sudden increase in wallet thefts, as well as planned special events, VIP visits, or areas of the property where construction is scheduled.
Afterward, the officers head out to their assigned sectors within the retail arcades, the parking garage, the exterior perimeter, and all other common areas. They tour on foot, in patrol vehicles, and on Segways.
The officers “deal with the same issues as in any small community…calls for medical assistance, fire alarms, reports of property damage, motor vehicle damage, also crimes such as shoplifting, or wallet and purse thefts,” explains Snow. However, he stresses, officers see few crimes against people, such as assaults or domestic violence incidents.
Patrol officers receive training in emergency first aid and CPR, crime prevention, and antiterrorism. Of the terror threat, Snow says, “Our officers are trained in what to look for. For example, during terrorist planning cycles, the piece where the private sector has the most chance of impact is in spotting the preoperational surveillance and the practice runs. Those are the behaviors that [officers are trained to] key in on,” he states.
On the other hand, adds Tello, “We have to have a balance with customer service. We have 60,000 people here every day. Many of those are tourists taking pictures. Just because they are photographing the center doesn’t mean they’re documenting the placement of structural columns or of where security officers are stationed. The officers have to balance how and when they intercede in light of the question, ‘Is this something really indicative of possible crime?’”
For Tello, officer visibility is paramount to their mission. “Whenever I walk through the retail arcade, for example, I want to see officers [on duty]. We want visitors to see professional and solid-looking security officers doing their rounds.”
There are about 100 fulltime officers working at Prudential Center. Although Snow and Tello did not wish to reveal exact numbers, they did note that the largest group is the Office Division. These officers are responsible for access control and all aspects of security in the three high-rise office buildings.
According to Tello, Office Division officers are selected for their outgoing personalities and customer service focus. “This was something we had to learn over time—that we needed people who could develop personal relationships with the tenants,” he says. “The Office Division security staff have more daily contact with our tenants than we do. In 2005, we created the Security Ambassador program, which emphasized and enhanced the image and perception of the security staff to a level of being perceived as ambassadors of Boston Properties.” The officers receive training in customer relations as well as first aid and CPR.
Snow says that although the officers on patrol or in the Office Division and command center are all part of a larger team and report up the same management structure, each group has its own unique skill sets. “There is surprisingly little cross-fertilization between the divisions. Officers don’t come into one and transfer into another. In the Office Division, the majority of the officers may not be looking for a long-term security or law enforcement career. They may be looking to move into other areas of business.”
The officers also staff lobby desks at Prudential Tower and 101 and 111 Huntington Avenue around the clock to check in visitors, receive packages, and monitor the buildings, loading docks, and freight elevators.
All of the tenant companies’ employees are required to authenticate their Boston Properties-issued access control badge at a reader upon entering the buildings. Once the cards are scanned by the reader, all employees must also present the ID to security officers who compare the photos on the badge to the individuals. If the badge matches the holder, then that person can pass beyond the lobbies into the elevators. Once inside, they must use their badge again to gain access to an elevator and the floors where they work.
New employees are issued identification by a badging office in the Prudential Tower. Tello explains that on their first day of work, newcomers are processed in as visitors by Office Division security in the building’s lobby, then escorted by a tenant company representative to the badging office where a photograph is taken and the card created with access privileges encoded. Boston Properties uses a 35-bit HID Corporate 1000 proximity badge. It was selected for its flexibility in multiple access control environments. Many of the tenant companies use the Boston Properties ID with their own access control systems within their leased space, allowing employees to carry only one badge.