How Brigham and Women’s Hospital Transitioned to In-House Security

Brigham and Women’s Hospital changed over from contract to in-house security officers to improve the quality and control of its security department.

How Brigham and Women’s Hospital Transitioned to In-House Security

BWH used a phased approach to make the switch from contract to in-house security.

When designing the training program for each position, we had to strike a balance with getting the new staff the core training they needed and ensuring that they were placed on duty as quickly as possible after being hired.

We identified the most important training and set up a program taught primarily by certified in-house instructors. Additional training would occur over the course of the first year of employment.

Members of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital security team.

New employees coming from the contract security firm were able to accelerate through the on-the-job training and some of the core training since they had already completed many of our requirements as part of their previous employment. This proved to be very beneficial to the overall onboarding timeline.

The uniform and equipment selection process was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the transition. We knew that, with the right uniforms, we had the opportunity to make a great first impression with anyone meeting our staff, so we made our choices thoughtfully.

After much research, we chose high-quality uniforms for our staff that made, and continue to make, a great impression. I cannot emphasize enough how important uniforms are to how the department is perceived, but also to the morale of the staff wearing them. You can truly see the pride and confidence our staff have in their appearance as a result of the uniforms we selected.

BWH Used a Phased Approach

With the major hurdles of contractor notification and creation of infrastructure cleared and with our own management team in place, we focused on the timeline that we created to go in-house. The plan was broken into three phases of hiring, training and then transitioning each of the following groups of staff:

  1. Line leadership, including sergeants and lieutenants
  2. Officers
  3. Concierges

While these groups were transitioned in the order listed above, we had to recruit all three groups simultaneously to meet our goal of transitioning the entire department in a very short timeframe. Our goal was to hire the right mix of contract security firm personnel and outside candidates to fill all of our positions. There were many excellent contract security staff that we wanted to bring on board, but it was important that we also brought in candidates with varied experience, training and fresh perspectives and ideas. With hundreds of applicants, more than 100 positions to fill and an ambitious timeline, this was certainly a challenge.

For our line leadership, which we recruited as our first-priority, we were quite successful in recruiting top talent for all of the sergeant and lieutenant positions, with each one of our shifts representing about 50+ years of combined security and law enforcement experience.

Our in-house department status along with the prestige and benefits of working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital helped us attract top talent.  As an example, all of our lieutenants have more than 25 years of law enforcement leadership experience with their previous positions ranging from sergeant to deputy chief of police.

Once our line leadership was recruited and trained, we transitioned the leadership of line staff from our contract security firm to our in-house sergeants and lieutenants. One contract security leader remained onsite to run the account, schedule contract staff and handle HR issues for the contract firm. The leadership for all day-to-day operations was placed in the hands of our new in-house leadership team.

Next, we continued our recruiting efforts with hiring officers and concierges. Our officers were recruited as a priority due to the selection and training requirements we put in place for these positions. However, concierges, who are charged with customer service and access control as part of their roles, also had greater experience and training requirements, so it was also critical to actively recruit these positions. These two groups of employees proved the most difficult to recruit due to the sheer number of positions, applicants, interviews and the hiring process in general. Each newly hired individual had to complete core training before they were eligible to work in the field.

In contrast to the leadership positions, which were transitioned simultaneously in one day from contract to in-house, we replaced the officer and concierge positions one-for-one as each staff member completed their training. This portion of the transition became difficult at times when contract security staff was being pulled off of the schedule for several weeks for training and on-boarding before being placed back on-duty as an in-house security staff member.

This enormous recruiting and onboarding effort, which included advertising for open positions and hosting several large career fairs, was fully supported by a dedicated human resources team. The resources offered by this group were mission critical, and the overall success of this project hinged on the excellent level of service they all provided.

In-House Security Department Embraced by Hospital

After seven months of hard work, intensive recruiting and onboarding of over 100 staff, we finally completed the transition in March 2018. We celebrated this milestone shortly thereafter with all of our staff to show our appreciation for all that they have accomplished as a team in such a short period of time. The feedback regarding our new, in-house department has been overwhelmingly positive. We frequently hear words of praise for the amazing work of our dedicated men and women of our department.

While the transition was no easy task, it was worth the effort. Without the support of our management team, senior leadership, human resources, our contract security provider and other key resources inside and outside of our department, none of this would have been possible.

David Corbin is BWH’s director of police, security and parking.

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About the Author


Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety's Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS's Web Editor since 2018.

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