Whitney Khattak of Hannon Security in Minnesota is the first-ever Security Officer of the Year for 2005, an award program sponsored by the International Foundation for Protection Officers and the Security Professionals Site.

In one of those lucky twists of fate, a temporary job while in school not only became a satisfying career for Whitney Khattak, but it has also earned her the honor of being named Security Officer of the Year for 2005. This was the first year for the international award, sponsored by the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) and the Security Professionals Site (SPS).

Khattak works for Hannon Security at Riverside Plaza in Minneapolis. She said she originally thought that working in the security field while in school would be a good step toward an eventual career in law enforcement. Instead, as soon as she started her job with Hanlon Security in 1997, she found herself liking it so much that she’s not only still there, but has absolutely no desire to do anything else, she said.

Had her first security job been elsewhere, she might have not stayed in the field. And that, based on what her supervisor at Hannon Security, Director Jason Elmes, says about her, would certainly have been a loss for the profession, the company and the clients she serves.

Involved in Important Arrests

One example: Khattak was instrumental to the Minneapolis Police Department’s arrest and incarceration of a male who, in a month’s time, kidnapped two young girls, who he had planned to molest, reported Elmes.

Khattak’s hard work and professionalism have not only earned her recognition as Security Officer of the Year, but the honors that come with the award – $500 from Naples, Fla.-based IFPO, $100 from SPS and a $300 scholarship toward any IFPO educational offering. She will also receive a free lifetime membership to SPS, the acknowledged top online reference for people in the security field.

Security Magazine is honored to first announce this to the industry. “It’s an indication of the important role of security officers and their high level of professionalism and commitment to their jobs and the dedication to continuing education,” said Security Editor Bill Zalud.

Riverside Plaza, where both Khattak and Elmes work, is a complex of approximately 3,000 apartments with a very diverse population, and about 35 other properties.

“Our properties are monitored via video surveillance, vehicle patrol and foot patrol by our officers,” said Elmes. “Our officers respond to all types of emergency and customer service situations that occur within security and policing.”

Providing diverse services

“As a matter of fact, we’re not even called the security office,” said Khattak. “We’re called Resident Services because of the multiple tasks we perform,” she said. The office is staffed 24 hours a day. “If you have a complaint or a need, you come to us.”

And it’s that very diversity of tasks that makes the job so appealing for Khattak, who obtained her Certified Protection Officer or CPO certification through IFPO. Each day is different, she said. When she comes to work, she never knows what she might end up doing before the day is over. But whatever the task, Khattak is up to doing it with diligence, dedication and determination, according to Elmes.

“I hired Whitney over five years ago for a position that required her to be both a security officer and a supervisor on different days. Whitney’s tenacity and ability to handle difficult situations quickly elevated her to become a full-time supervisor. Eventually, Whitney became my assistant director and lead investigator. Whitney has investigated many crimes including assaults, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct cases and others with a high degree of success,” said Elmes.

“Because of my experiences, I feel confident of my ability to rate Whitney as one of the best officers any organization could have. No matter what the assignment, Whitney will consistently take charge from start to finish. She plays an intricate role in the training of new supervisors and keeps our security organization running smoothly no matter the situation,” he said.

About the Honor

The Security Officer of the Year program, launched by the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) and the Security Professionals Site (SPS) as a natural extension of both organizations’ objective of fostering excellence in the security profession, said Sheldon Bergner, owner and administrator of SPS. Individuals from IFPO and SPS formed an international committee charged with coming up with criteria to judge the candidates. All agreed that the successful candidate could be employed in a variety of security jobs, and would possess the integral qualities of honesty, professionalism and commitment.