McGruff, that is. When Security Magazine asked thousands of security executives and top law enforcement officials to give us the names of who they feel has been most influential in the profession, the name of McGruff the Crime Dog came up a lot.

So Security Magazine dug into this crime-biting animal just in case we were barking up the wrong tree.

Talk about influential – The "Take A Bite Out of Crime" dog has huge recognition and effectiveness numbers.

  • Adults who know McGruff are significantly more likely to take a range of security and safety measures that make them less vulnerable to crime.
  • An independent evaluation found that better than one in five adults acted on the messages in the communications (public service advertising) part of the campaign, at a net cost to taxpayers of just 2.9 cents per person.
  • Children (more than 75 percent) see McGruff as a reliable, friendly, caring source of valuable messages across a range of safety and crime prevention topics. Adults (almost 60 percent) see McGruff as a reliable source and a help in communicating with their children.
  • Thousands of enterprises and their security departments work in their communities with McGruff since his invention in 1980.

His messages have changed over the years from urging personal, family and home security to more broadly based crime prevention concerns. During the mid-1990s, McGruff and his organization, the National Crime Prevention Council, addressed the effects of gun-related violence on children in the schools, on the street and at home. Current issues include identity theft, cyberbullying, bullying, youth violence prevention, volunteering, school safety, Internet safety and telemarketing fraud against seniors.

There are 4,000 active McGruff costumes in use across America. McGruff has a classy Corvette, a monster truck in Arizona, and a wiener wagon in Florida. But most of all, he likes to ride in patrol cars assisting law enforcement. He is unique – both a brand and an icon for public safety. The investment by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance in its support of this campaign has produced more than $1.5 billion worth of public service advertising and more than $300 million worth of reproduced, locally claimed educational booklets and brochures.

Crime prevention is a collaborative effort that requires the cooperation of citizens, law enforcement, the business community, private security, faith-based groups and all levels of government.

Here’s what McGruff told me: “Today crime remains at historically low figures. A look at national crime statistics gathered by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics tells us that violent crime rates have declined since 1994. Robbery rates set a similar record decrease. Many people once driven inside their homes, behind locked doors, are back sitting on their porches, enjoying their parks and walking to their corner stores. Across the country, in one town after another, crime rates have plummeted. It’s not like that everywhere, of course, but progress has been made.”

SIDEBAR: Most Vulnerable Make Strongest Business Case for Security

Companies most attuned to security issues are those with the most exposure to a broad range of security risks, according to a survey by The Conference Board, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Conference Board report Navigating Risk: The Business Case for Security is based on a survey of 213 senior corporate executives not specifically responsible for security or risk matters and not chief information officers. The survey was designed to gauge the role and influence of security managers among general senior executives.

The surveyed companies most concerned with security are companies in critical infrastructure industries (including energy and utilities, chemicals, and transportation), large corporations, multinationals with global operations and publicly traded companies. Not considering security directors themselves, the executives most supportive of security matters are those in risk-oriented positions, such as CIOs, risk managers and compliance officers.

But there is a strong disconnect between the level of support for security initiatives and the level of influence over security policy within the companies surveyed. In general, the most supportive executives were not the most influential, and the most influential executives were not the most supportive. In addition, most senior executives surveyed reported that they have little direct responsibility for most aspects of security. An area with a lot of dotted-line relationships, senior executives are often heavily involved in specific security decisions even though they are not directly accountable for them.