Making the Grade with Contract Security

A clear contract that outlines campus staffing needs and officer training requirements is just one element that has led to a successful partnership between Tidewater Community College and its security provider.

Campus Requires Security Officers Receive Training
Skill development is a regular component of security operations in any company, but for Top Guard the TCC program has resulted in the creation of a tiered training system. New security officers are provided two days of classroom training focusing on written policies and scenario based training. This course includes written exams and writing exercises requiring a minimum passing competency. Upon completion, the new officer spends several days on the campus he or she is assigned to, learning side by side with a campus supervisor or shift leader.  

The contract provides for 40 hours of training for new employees and 16 hours of annual in-service training absorbed by Top Guard. Training required by TCC above the contract provisions and including state mandated Virginia Campus Security Officer Certification is paid by the college. Top Guard’s performance in this area is measured quarterly by providing documented training files for each officer.

Standard Operating Procedures Apply to All Campuses

With four campuses and three specialty centers in five cities, each campus presents security challenges in a variety of settings. As a result, it is critical to have a standard operating procedure manual that can be consistently applied to all facilities and site-specific post orders that reflect the individual needs of each campus.

Success in this area requires collaboration between TCC’s director of safety and security, campus provosts and the Top Guard security manager. The college’s security related policies and procedures are the foundation for the operating manual. The security manager, with support from Top Guard’s technical writer, is responsible for providing a document that guides daily operations, emergency responses, and is the basis for identifying officer training needs.  Performance in this area is based on quarterly reviews for policy updates and the documentation of training of staff in the procedures.

Supervisors, Quality Assurance Keep Program on Track
The supervision of security staff at each site is the responsibility of a security captain or lieutenant, depending on the size of the facility. Security sergeants are assigned to work with the captains and lieutenants. Overnight shift patrol rounds can be documented electronically. The security manager oversees the campus supervisors and is responsible for managing scheduling and monitors day-to-day operations by performing site inspections.

In addition, Top Guard uses quality assurance officers who inspect sites after hours for staffing irregularities and performance reviews. Supervisors and security officers are formally reviewed quarterly using a modified version of the performance metrics applied to the Top Guard contract. TCC reviews the evaluations and in conjunction with the campus provosts, provides Top Guard with a quarterly quality and supervision rating.  


Good Record Keeping Ensures Clery Compliance
Accurate records and professional report writing are essential for colleges to comply with the Clery Act so the campuses can properly report crimes, post crime prevention policies and provide crime alerts. The TCC security record and report system gives timely information to each campus provost. The security reports are used to report criminal offenses, take action when there are student conduct violations, investigate accidents and injuries, and to document events.  

The quality of the reports and communication of events to campus leadership is also evaluated quarterly on the five-point scale. Top Guard provides written report-writing training exercises to its staff and seeks to recruit officers with demonstrated writing skills.

Collaboration Quickly Identifies Security Challenges

Through the use of mutually agreed upon and measurable performance indicators in the areas of staffing, training, supervision, procedures, and reporting, both TCC and Top Guard can benefit overall through enhanced and honest intercompany communication. Areas that need improvement are identified rapidly, and resources and training can be directed to them based on the indicators involved. 

The result is a smooth functioning contract security operation that closely mimics the professionalism, training and sense of ownership usually reserved for proprietary models.

George Okaty is the director of safety and security at Tidewater Community College, and he can be reached at [email protected]. Yan Byalik is a security manager at Top Guard Security Inc, and he can be reached at [email protected].



How the TCC, Contract Security Firm Partnership Works

The overall administration of the contract and the security program involves a partnership between the college and the security firm. This partnership requires a professional security person representing the educational institution and a professional manager or account representative from the security provider. TCC recruited an experienced security professional with a background in college security and law enforcement to administer the contract, and Top Guard Security selected an individual with a strong security background as the account security manager. 

Now, TCC’s director of safety and security and Top Guard’s security manager meet formally twice a week and often involve other Top Guard personnel, including its technical writer and general manager. In addition to these weekly meetings, communication is fostered with the provosts at each campus and their leadership teams to review security issues. The quarterly performance survey goals are developed during these meetings. 



Campus at a Glance: Tidewater Community College (TCC) in Hampton Roads, Va., is part of the Virginia Community College system and serves more than 40,000 students with campuses and teaching centers in the cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Suffolk and Portsmouth. TCC has approximately 70 part-time and full-time contract security officers.

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