Balancing Public Safety and Convenience

Security might best be achieved by considering employee needs.

What causes a solid security program to break down? It may be easy to think that security is compromised by criminal minds who observe our facilities from the darkness in an effort to uncover their underlying vulnerabilities. The reality is often quite different. Good, honest, well meaning employees often create unintended breaches in our security plans out of convenience.  Often these acts of convenience are seen as improving work efficiency.    

Opening a safe door for each individual transaction is time consuming. Work can be faster and more efficient by leaving the safe door open – out of convenience.

Smoking is often confined to areas located outside a secure perimeter door. Entering the access code is time consuming so employees may prop the door open – out of convenience. The list of examples is endless.

So here’s the theory: Well intentioned and honorable employees can create small breaches in security, which are later exploited by persons who have or develop criminal intent. Our job as security professionals is often seen as identifying those breaches and finding ways to stop their continuance.

If a safe door is left open, we install an electronic device that triggers an annoying noise maker that will buzz until the safe is properly secured. The propped door can be handled by installing a door-ajar alarm that reports to an internal monitoring station. An intercom and a video camera can be added to rapidly observe and correct transgressions.

Organizations can toughen policy and create dazzling security awareness programs, but, we may be missing a vital piece of the puzzle. Security may best be achieved by considering employee needs.

Employee needs for convenience and operational efficiency should be identified and accommodated as an integral part of any security program. Two-way communication that involves employees directly in the security planning process can help eliminate the efficiency robbing annoyances that often compromise campus security. 

This process will have the added advantage of increased security awareness among employees. Thus, if the chains and padlocks used to secure perimeter gates are routinely left unlocked on weekends, it might make sense to create a single designated, well lit, self closing, proximity card access controlled gate. This change might resolve the issue without compromising security, unless there is some other need, yet to be identified.

Ongoing communication is the key. 

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About the Author


Jim Grayson is a senior security consultant. His career spans more than 35 years in law enforcement and security consulting. He worked for UCLA on a workplace violence study involving hospitals, schools and small retail environments and consulted with NIOSH on a retail violence prevention study.Grayson’s diverse project experience includes schools, universities, hospitals, municipal buildings, high-rise structures and downtown revitalization projects. He holds a degree in criminal justice and a CPP security management credential from ASIS. He is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on a wide range of security topics.He can be reached at [email protected]. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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