The economy is now challenging chief executive officers, chief security officers, hiring professionals, contract officer service firms and local law enforcement.

Just as the global economy has tied together countries and companies – the mortgage meltdown in the U.S. melted scores of other nations’ economies, layoffs of local police officers press on enterprise and private security to take up the slack. Layoffs at businesses don’t only throw people out of work but also create internal crime potential out of revenge or by disgruntled workers as well as the increase in crime from bank robberies and shoplifting to street crimes.

The Boss Faces Big Economic Threats

C Suite executive realize what’s happening.

About 85 percent of enterprise executives this year named “economic challenges” as their top organizational concern, according to Ken Blanchard Companies in its annual “corporate issues” survey. Culture change and skill shortages are right up there, too. Of top management concerns, creating an engaged workforce as well as selecting and retaining key talent are high on the list.

Law enforcement knows what’s going on.

Police Cuts Being Made

Nearly two out of three police agencies responding say they are currently making plans for cutting their budgets, according to the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a Washington, D.C.-based independent research organization made up of local and state police officials. And 44 percent of the police departments report increases in certain types of crime which they believe can be attributed to the economic crisis.
Of the 233 responding police agencies, which generally consisted of the larger police departments across the country, 63 percent said they are preparing plans for an overall cut in their total funding for the next fiscal year. In a large majority of cases, the police officials indicated that they are not merely making contingency plans or thinking about cuts as an academic exercise; of those who said they are planning cuts, 88 percent said they have already been told to expect cuts by their mayor, city council, or other governing authority. On average, the responding agencies said they are planning a cut of 6.24 percent in their overall funding level.
Stimulus dollars may save some police jobs but not all and not necessarily soon enough. Enhancing the role of security officers within cities may help. There’s a proposal in Chicago, for example, to give private security officers the ability to ticket citizens for certain lower-level offenses. Whether adopted or not, there’s no doubt that security officers will play a greater role. And they need to have better pre-employment screening and better training, too. It’s a point well made by Josh Woolley of G4S Compliance and Investigations. See the background screening article elsewhere in this issue. Woolley believes that officer candidates must be better screened than other employee candidates.

CSOs Plan for New Era

Getting back to the economy, enterprise security leaders understand what’s going on, too.
In a recent ASIS International survey of its members, there was substantial doom and gloom. See this month’s News & Analysis.
However, CSOs, in general, are better prepared to manage security services if significant reductions in resources occur, with nearly three out of five reporting that they have formal contingency plans in place. On the other hand, less than half of the security managers responding were in a similar position. While there was some commonality between the plan characteristics reported by each group, the CSO characteristics tended to be more strategic in nature, with greater conformity to the concept of enterprise risk management. Elements of the contingency plans include:
  • Focus on role of security in the employer’s overall business continuity and crisis management plans.
  • Ensure that security vendors have business continuity and crisis management plans in place.
  • Emphasize management of workplace violence and related human resource issues as facility closings and employee terminations increase.
  • Increase application and deployment of electronic and other technologies with backup or redundant systems in place.
  • Manage potential reductions in security personnel through cross-training and position-restructuring strategies.
  • Utilize outsourcing strategies to replace and/or augment real or potential reductions in internal resources.
  • Intensify utilization of risk assessment processes and outcomes in contingency planning processes.
The contingency plans shared in some measure by chief security officers and security managers are solid action items. The shifting ground of the U.S. and world economies, however, will make it difficult to follow through.
Keith Kambic, who is responsible for security and life safety at Sears Tower in Chicago, stresses an additional strategy – closer and more partnerships between public and private operations with law enforcement, security and safety responsibilities.
He’s got a point. We are all in this hole together and it will be easier, less costly and faster for all of us to dig out of it together.