As I write this article, the news is about the most recent terrorist attacks in London and Scotland. As the threats continue to increase, the need for understanding methods to deal with these threats increases as well.
Training is such a priority that President Bush issued an Executive Order in May that states, “In order to enhance the national security of the United States, including preventing, protecting against, responding to and recovering from natural and manmade disasters, such as acts of terrorism, it is the policy of the United States to promote the education, training and experience of current and future professionals in national security positions (security professionals) in executive departments and agencies.”
Training is important to keep security professionals current with technology but security training can be difficult to find. Quality training is even harder to find, although several companies offer excellent training on their products – Hirsch and Pelco, for example, but the training is product specific.
Hirsh Electronics (www.hirschelectronics.com) offers very detailed training for both installers and end-users on the Hirsch line of access control systems in the Hirsch Learning Center at its Santa Ana, Calif., facility. Pelco’s Video Security Institute (www.pelco.com) offers training at Pelco’s training sites in California and New York; some material is available on-line. Pelco’s classes are geared to security video sales professionals, but several system design classes are offered as well.
Security associations are a good source for training. ALEAN, the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network (www.ALEAN.com), is a non-profit organization organized to facilitate communication of law enforcement administrative leaders and intelligence officers of airport law enforcement agencies to address mutual problems common to the field of airport law enforcement and security. They promote, sponsor and conduct a regular information-sharing network for the benefit of airport law enforcement officers throughout the world. A priority for ALEAN is the development and economical delivery of critical training programs for airport police agencies.
ASIS International, the American Society for Industrial Security (www.asisonline.org), has a strong influence in the world of security training, but they have some issues that should be considered. ASIS offers over 20 industry specific training programs ranging from one to four days, with classes held in the United States and Canada, but ASIS has no full-time instructional staff. ASIS uses members of the organization to provide the training. This approach has pros and cons – while the use of industry professionals has the benefit of operational experience, there can be a lack of classroom skills, and with some speakers employed by manufacturers, a lack of objectivity.
It also needs to be understood what ASIS is. I had always thought ASIS to be a trade organization, looking out for the needs of those employed in the security industry. I was informed by ASIS Director of Education Susan Melnicove that “ASIS is not a trade organization, it is a member organization.” As a result, ASIS has no requirement to be objective. ASIS will promote its training programs to the membership, and omit training information about companies they consider to be competitive.
A recent ASIS rule change now requires a minimum of 50 percent of recertification points for the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) certification to come from training activities. I do applaud the ASIS decision to now emphasize training. Although an obvious attempt to boost ASIS training revenues, remember that recertification points do not have to come only from ASIS sponsored training. Many training sources meet ASIS guidelines for recertification points.
Another popular industry training source is the Physical Security Training Program (PSTP) through the counterterrorism division of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). The PSTP (http://www.fletc.gov/training/programs/counterterrorism-division/physical-security-training-program-pstp/) has run since the late 1980s, and is a comprehensive two-week physical security training program. The program runs six to eight times each year, but attendance is generally restricted to employees of federal agencies.
Community College Sources
Many colleges and community colleges now offer homeland security certificates and degrees. This is a good thing for the security industry. College involvement brings training standards and oversight. Organizations like Prepare America (http://www.league.org/league/projects/homeland_security/prepare_america.html) are using community colleges for delivering homeland security and emergency preparedness education, training and credentialing. The Prepare America concept is valid because America’s community colleges provide high-quality, cost-effective, accessible, coherent, responsive and accredited education and training.
What do you look for in training?
Look for certification. Look for full-time, experienced staff. Look for relationships with accredited schools. Look for training organizations with a solid track record for training.