Browsing Posts in Security and Parking Management

I could recite the standard complaints clients have given regarding their contract security providers accountability in my sleep.  After 15 years in this industry I have unfortunately heard them all.  But let’s face it, sifting through paper reports to cull out exactly what security officer observed and reported in the field is the poorest form of communication in security.

But technology provides contract security providers like Summit Security with a much more professional and accountable tool. By deploying real-time online reporting software, contract security companies can provide their security officers with opportunities to show their clients exactly what the officer is observing. Using this technology through smartphones, security personnel can take photographs, accompanied with text and in some cases audio files, to report their activities and observations throughout their shift.

Clients can sign on to computers and follow in real time the reports created on their property.  This level of accountability creates the true partnership that contract security providers like Summit Security want  with their clients.

Through the date and time stamped photos and texts clients can avoid the standard accountability phone calls to their security provider like, “what time did the guard actually arrive on site?” or “where was the guard on the property when the complaint came in?”  Now they have proof through the online reporting of the officer’s movements and what they observed through photographs accompanied with notes, to flesh out the picture of what was happening onsite.

Contract security providers have an obligation to provide their client with the best accountability tools the industry has to offer.  Transparency in their operations is a natural consequence of this high tech reporting solution.  A good point to consider if your security contractor insists you pay addition fees before they will provide this technology or worse yet, refuses to provide it at altogether.

Random Patrol services are a critical division of any professional security company. For a fraction of the cost of a standing guard, random patrols provide a limited security presence at a property.

Random Patrol works ONLY if the Client has the same understanding, expectations and goals of the service as the security provider. Dissatisfaction with service occurs when the duties are not in line with the type of service contracted.

Here are a few security duties perfect for Random Patrol officers to perform. However, each has caveats that will need to be agreed upon for a patrol account to be successful:

1. Locks and Unlocks: A perfect fit for random patrol officers IF the Client understands other properties on the route will also have lock and unlock requests at the same time of night. FLEXIBILITY on lock-up times is critical or there is little hope for success.

2. Checking on Pools and Spas After Hours: An excellent way to discourage after-hours use of facilities, but expectations have to be realistic that some people will try to use these facilities between patrol checks. If a client wants to totally eliminate the chance of people using facilities after hours, a permanent standing guard is the only way to ensure 100% compliance.

3. Parking Enforcement: A way to ensure parking rules are being adhered to by performing random checks throughout the parking lots. Again there will be occasional violators who get by, but parking logs along with strict enforcement (yes this means ticketing and towing) will keep those to a minimum.

4. Walking Floors and Stairwells: Walkthroughs of floors and stairwells at random times will help maintain a security presence and act as a deterrent. Although not as effective as a standing guard, it’s a good alternative for a property with a limited security budget. Again, the KEY is for the security provider to help the Client understand that things can happen between patrols and the security company has no way to prevent those incidents.

5. Responding to Noise Complaints: This can be an effective use of a Random Patrol service but also THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD. Noise complaints are when a security officer responds to a noise complaint and asks the residents making the noise to observe the quiet hours of the community. Proper reporting of the incidents give Property Managers assistance in getting repeat offenders under control.

IMPORTANT: too often communities use calls to their security service as a replacement for police response. This can be dangerous to the security officer and residents in the community. NEVER call private security services for 911 calls, domestic violence or drug enforcement. These are calls that should only be made to local law enforcement.

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Summit Security is proud to announce its recognition by the San Diego Business Journal as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies with corporate offices in San Diego. Summit would like to thank all of our Clients for their part in helping us grow to this place of prestigious recognition.

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A BIG security company means more right? More service, more training, more communication… sometimes it might, and sometimes it can mean the  opposite.

By choosing a national security provider for your locations, you are one of thousands that they service. The size of your sites (translation: how much they bill you) will equal the amount of attention you get. They will risk losing your account over one that brings them more revenue… to be fair, once they reach that size they have no choice.

Truth is, choosing a national security provider may not always be your best fit. Try looking to regional providers like Summit Security with offices in San Diego, the Inland Empire and Sacramento-Roseville. They have gained a rock-solid reputation for reliable service and accountability, which has helped them to grow—yet they still offer the personal attention that you require on your properties.

When it comes to security companies, bigger can be less and smaller can mean more… just make sure the company you pick is the one that fits the best!

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Field Security Supervisors tend to fall into two categories:

  1. Those who “catch”  poor performance
  2. Those who “correct” poor performance

The difference is in how they approach the challenge of supervising multiple security officers at multiple locations. It’s easy to sneak around and catch people making mistakes, but PROPERLY correcting those mistakes is where professional security supervisors shine.

Correcting poor performance at a site is more than pointing out what your officers missed. It’s helping them understand what they need to do so they don’t repeat the same mistakes or create others.

This requires fully supporting your officers in the field: understanding their site, the challenges it presents and offering ideas and guidance to help their performance improve.

Tom Nguyen, Operations Manager at Summit Security, puts it this way: “I believe in the supportive supervisor model because it anticipates and resolves issues more efficiently, and because it offers our clients an added layer of service. We mentor officers into correcting their mistakes, keeping them on track and raising the level of security they provide to the site.”

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Parking at your property can be a nightmare unless you put a program in place for enforcement. Security providers like Summit Security have Parking Management programs in place to help identify the parking violators and resolve difficult parking situations once and for all.

Here are five enforcement tips from Summit Security to help your program run more efficiently:

  1. At residential properties, tie permits to units/houses not vehicles
  2. Make all parking in common areas PERMIT ONLY
  3. Do all enforcement  based on a calendar month… not 30 days
  4. Use hanging permits and make sure they are reflective
  5. Allow for exceptions and make sure there is a policy written identifying them

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If ever there was a misrepresented and misunderstood security service, it’s “Random Patrol.” By definition, Random Patrols are not performed at a specific time and should be provided by a uniformed security officer in a marked security patrol vehicle.

However some security providers mistake “random” to mean both when they arrive and how long they stay! In some cases the patrol consists of a marked security car speeding past your property—literally, a “Drive By.”

Don’t be fooled by thinking you are contracting for a Random Patrol only to be provided with a “Drive By” patrol. Look for companies like Summit Security that CLEARLY outline what they provide in a Random Patrol service. Check to be sure:

1. The length of time that the security patrols are on the property is specified in the contract.

2. You receive PROOF of the security officers’ arrival and departure times INCLUDING documentation of what they did while on-site. Online reporting with RealtimeDAR is the best tool to achieve this goal.

3. Patrols are performed by a uniformed security officer in a marked security patrol vehicle that has a light bar.

4. Security officers exit their vehicles and walk some portion of their rounds in order to show a security presence.

5. Patrol vehicles are newer, fuel efficient models. This keeps the image of your site professional, shows your commitment to keeping costs down and is good for the environment.

6. Patrol officer duties are outlined in post orders and approved by the client.

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Definition: Always finding the perfect parking spot right next to the entrance no matter how busy the street or how large the parking lot. (Also known as “parking karma.”)

Reality: Never happens! Well to be fair, almost never, especially if you are trying to find a spot in open parking.

But there is hope if you live in a community or work in a building that has assigned parking. The challenge is making people keep their assignments…

Security companies like Summit Security offer parking management programs for communities and businesses to help control the offenders. Parking enforcement with online incident reporting, logs, tickets and, when necessary, tows, helps violators realize that parking his or her car in a spot where it doesn’t belong is not only rude, but it can be expensive.

So before you give up and start singing “Que Sera Sera,” consider contacting your security provider to ask about the parking management programs they provide to help with illegal parking at your location.  After all, every visitor should be able to pull into a parking lot and find a place to park, even if they aren’t Doris Day!

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Would you ever hand the keys to your car to a perfect stranger? How about the keys to your house?

Believe it or not, the answer is yes. In fact, this is what most of us do every time we hand our keys to a valet to park our car. Think about it, not only are we giving the valet our car keys, but along with those car keys are the keys to all the other most important locks in our lives!

Choosing a professional company—one that screens and trains their valets—is critical to protecting your patrons from inside and outside the vehicle. Summit Security takes that screening one step further with Pro-Valet™—by providing parking valets who are also licensed security officers.

Requiring all valets to be licensed security professionals pays off as an additional security presence in the parking lots and garages where they are trained to observe and report suspicious activity, not just park cars.

This extra layer of security for parking, one of the more vulnerable areas on a property, creates more value for clients and residents.

Tip: Next time you hand your keys to a valet, remember to only give them the key to your car.  It just makes good security sense, no matter who is the providing the service.

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Imagine this… you’re a residential community manager and one of your luxury apartments just got robbed. Your renter/victim calls you on the phone and is furious. What is the first question the tenant asks (and you wonder the same thing)…. “Where was the security officer and how could this have happened with all the money we pay for the  security service?”

Clearly you cannot cover every possible scenario that could answer “How this could have happened?” but you feel confident you can solve the riddle as to the whereabouts of the security officer.

You go to the pile of papers on your desk, frantically searching for the daily activity report (DAR) he filled out from the night of the incident. Once you find it you heave a sigh of relief only to have it turn to a gasp of exasperation when you read entry after entry of, “all clear, nothing unusual to report”  on the DAR.

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch for anyone accustomed to reading paper reports from unobservant security officers to identify with the above scenario.  The lack of ability to verify rounds with limited reported information has been a frustrating experience for every security client and security operations manager who ever worked with security officers.

To be fair, not all security officer’s reports sink to this level.  But it occurs with enough frequency that the dread that comes with trying to explain poor reporting to angry victims is a one you never forget.

Thankfully the cavalry has arrived just in time to rescue everyone who has been shadowed by the dread of poorly written paper reports. It comes in the form of online incident reporting.

Paperless reporting is available today through companies, like RealtimeDAR, who offer online reporting programs for security officer in the field. Reports that can be viewed from any computer with internet access.

The online reports are created through handheld PDA’s that use text, photos and audio files to report every security issue that the officer observes during their rounds.  All entries are automatically date and time stamped and the information cannot be manipulated or changed. Verification of rounds is finally a reality to anyone who needs to access the information….it gives you proof.

The real online reporting bonus comes with the money that is saved not just in paper, printing, and faxing, but also in time. Time is saved by the security operations who manage the officers in the field and by the clients who receive the service.

By centralizing all the information on websites like RealtimeDAR, it is just a click away to see the security officers movements and reports in real-time by anyone who has access to view it. Unique user names and passwords keep the information secure and the access levels assignable.

So take time to review online incident reporting solutions for your sites that have security personnel.  It won’t always solve the mystery of why things happen, but it will give you peace of mind with verification of rounds and proof of what  security officers are observing and reporting during their shift.

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