By Leonard H. Miller CPP/CFE
Why the security industry should push states to develop accreditation standards for security officers
Security providers today are confronting a variety of very difficult challenges. Our clients’ expectations are high even though resources are typically quite limited. Residents, vendors, visitors, and the public are filing a growing number of legal actions and complaints and require more of the security industry. Many scrutinize the ways in which Security Officers conduct themselves and the way that professional security services are provided.
Owners, CEO’s, senior level managers, and operations people are looking for innovative ways to address these and other related security problems and issues. According to many professionals in the industry, accreditation might be one of the best and most valuable and cost effective strategies currently available to executives who wish to embrace overall agency professionalism.
Accreditation is a progressive and time-proven way of helping institutions evaluate and improve their overall performance. The cornerstone of this strategy lies in the promulgation of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives. Interested administrators then conduct a thorough internal analysis to determine how existing operations can be made to conform to those objectives. When the procedures are in place, a group of independent peers are assigned to verify that all applicable standards have, in fact, been successfully implemented. The process culminates with a decision by an authoritative body—the accreditation agency.
The practice of accrediting institutions in America began more than 200 years ago when several northern states decided to establish State Board of Regents to charter colleges and private academies. The concept has since been successfully applied in fields as diverse as law enforcement, corrections, library services, and in particular, the health care industry.
Accreditation status represents a significant professional achievement. The achievement is made especially noteworthy because of the formal recognition granted to indicate that an institution meets or exceeds general expectations of quality in the field. In measurable terms, accreditation acknowledges the implementation of policies that are both conceptually sound and operationally effective. The ultimate reward for the security industry would be similar to the accreditation process that law enforcement uses. To proudly display an accreditation seal or decal on our vehicles, letterhead, or place of business would certainly be an asset.
The process, which will establish the Accreditation Program, authorizes the development of model standards that will accomplish four principal goals:
1. To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of security providers in the delivery of professional, effective security services, utilizing existing personnel, equipment, and facilities to the extent possible.
3. To ensure the appropriate training of security personnel in accordance with known standards and with other provisions of applicable state statutes.
4. To promote public, community, client, and law enforcement confidence and awareness in security agencies.
Program development should begin with the formation of a blue ribbon planning committee. The individuals selected to work on this committee should be from state security providers and others as deemed necessary.
A second committee should be formed that will oversee and draft specific standards for the planning committee’s consideration. Both committees should work closely with the state’s law enforcement associations, since many have statewide availability and have a vast experience with accreditation. Many of the security industry standards will probably mirror many of those of the law enforcement community.
We, as an industry, would probably need support from the state, as it pertains to necessary legislation that would approve and contribute assistance. We would then need a comprehensive pilot test involving several different security agencies to identify the types of problems that might be incurred during implementation prior to the program becoming operational.
Agencies of every size should be encouraged to participate in the program. All security agencies should be encouraged to provide input into evaluating the system before it is implemented. This could be done through mailings, e-mails, or meetings in order that everyone could be involved. Proper evaluation will assure that the program continues to be responsive to the security agency’s future needs.
Guidelines should suggest that security agencies wishing to participate in the program must employ one or more security officers who are active and are defined as listed:
A licensed security officer in the State: state licensed managers, instructors, or other licensed persons in the security service industry as well as CEO’s, owners, and high level management representatives of the security community.
The Accreditations Program is voluntary in nature. Participating agencies will pay a charge per agency for accreditation, depending on the size of the organization. There should be no charges for the necessary manuals, resource materials, technical assistance, or other program services. Security agencies that are awarded accreditation status shall be accredited for a five-year period.
The enabling legislation, mentioned earlier, should establish an accreditation council. This council should meet on a quarterly basis and provide the program with overall guidance and direction. Specific responsibilities include designing program standards, recommending rules and regulations, and awarding accreditation status to those security agencies that meet program requirements. The council should also monitor events and services offered by the accreditation agency to promote the accreditation initiative. In addition, it should provide a system of compliance during the accreditation period.
Council members should be appointed. One member should be from the accreditation agency, two from large security companies, two from medium security companies, two from small security companies, and two from security training academies.
The accreditation agency should supply administrative support for the council. Program staff should develop resource materials, process applications, and arrange for on-site technical assistance. This will support those agencies that need help drafting procedures for recruiting and training independent volunteer assessors to verify security agency compliance with program requirements.
In order to assure that the assessors are qualified, an Assessor Selection Committee should meet periodically to review the applications that are submitted for this sensitive position. The committee should include a representative from a large security company, one member from a medium security company, and one member from a small security company.
The accreditation program’s common goal is to provide each security agency that applies for accreditation the maximum available support to complete the program.