Public-private partnerships in the security industry are nothing new. Private sector companies have paired up with law enforcement and government agencies for centuries as a business strategy to reduce risk and save money. But the number and size of private security companies and departments have grown exponentially over the past 25 years. Private security concerns, including mitigating terrorist threats, monitoring solutions, compliance issues, cyber security and communication, often overlap with public security problems and thus have increased the demand for protection against loss and liability.

As such, a great number of partnerships are being used to revolutionize security through new synergized solutions and techniques. And although public and private organizations’ end goals sometimes aim in opposite directions, the partnerships prove that when the two have something to accomplish together, they can uncover solutions to multiple problems.

“In today’s security environment, success hinges on working with stakeholders to provide information, discuss threats and share best practices,” comments Bill Anderson, Group Director of Security & International Safety for Ryder System, which has a vast network of public partners to secure its global fleet of trucks, tractors and trailers and the supply chain. “To ensure our policy makers understand the issues that are important to business, private sector security professionals need to reach out to the public sector and share our ideas and experiences. Similarly, the public sector has information and resources that aren’t entirely available to the private sector. By sharing this information, companies can engage their front line employees who are often in a position to recognize and report suspicious activities,” he says.

NYPD Operation Shield is one example of a successful public-private partnership. Project Shield started with 924 members in 2005, and now has 11,000 members in 25 countries, forming a wide net of stakeholders in the New York city’s security program. The program connects New York private sector businesses with local law enforcement intelligence and resources. Built around a single information-sharing website, Operation Shield works with 22 individual sectors, including hotels, banking, finance and private security, to provide training, terrorism assessments and sector-specific alerts.

“New York City is different than many other metropolises,” says Deputy Chief Michael Blake, commanding officer of the NYPD Counterterrorism Division. “We have 35,000 sworn officers, but you talk about a city of eight million people – we need more eyes and ears. The more we educate them about best practices and what to look for, the more secure we are against terrorist attacks.”

Operation Shield exports training programs to a company’s facilities, or organizes group training seminars at larger locations. Through a variety of training courses, including vehicle security, improvised explosive device, active shooter and suicide bomber response training, as well as suspicious package and mailroom best practices, Shield has trained more than 20,000 private sector partners. These shareholders help to preserve the efficiency of their own business ventures as well as the safety of the city by helping to prevent attacks.

“The whole program starts with communication,” Blake says. “As long as the lines of communication are open 24/7, you can push information through to all the sectors, public and private, and they communicate back to us. We can determine what their individual needs are and determine how to help ensure the safety of that community.”

While the NYPD utilizes the vast network of partners to protect the business and safety of eight million people, the Shawnee County Department of Corrections in Kansas found the use of nearly 500 mechanical eyes to be much more efficient.


The Best Defense

“We needed to get out of the Dark Ages,” says Captain Tim Phelps of Shawnee County DoC. He was working with a loose video maintenance system that he describes as “archaic, unoriginal and with no storage. If we didn’t catch the incident in progress, we didn’t have video of it at all.”

The DoC has an average daily population of 51 juveniles and 450 adults, and now, after the installation and adaptation of a new system from Avigilon and Creative Technologies, Inc., he now has 459 cameras. That’s almost one camera per inmate.

The system includes video and audio, NVRs, networks and viewer software that can extract video from the system and move it to an external drive for easy viewing. This personalized solution is Shawnee County’s new dispute mediator.

“The inmates now understand that the odds are good that anywhere they go, I know what they do and what they say,” Phelps says. “They’re less likely to try something and less likely to start he-said/she-said excuses. I can just go to the system and zero-in on the event. The combination of audio and video resolves the dispute.”

The system also saves the department time, energy and money in lawsuits, Phelps says, reducing security costs by preventing incidents and immediately resolving the ones that do. According to Phelps, one inmate threatened legal action after claiming he had been pushed over a rail and injured by another inmate. Video evidence showed that he had in fact paid off the other inmate to pretend to shove him, while he controlled his own fall. With the video, the issue never went to court.

“I’m an attorney, so I have quite a bit of appreciation for this system in terms of litigation,” Phelps says. “Your best defense is knowing for sure what you’ve done right or where you messed up so you can be prepared. In this dangerous environment, it’s so incredibly helpful to be able to view and store video reliably.”

In terms of advanced warning, Phelps and his team can monitor the video and watch inmates for signs of violence and contraband within prison walls, predicting the behavior and cutting it off before it happens.

“Now, I feel like I’ve leapt into the 22nd century,” he says.

Synergized approaches to security are infiltrating every aspect of the industry, from prisons to mass notification systems to Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD. These methods both maximize efficiency and reduce costs by using one product or system for more than one solution, including the state of North Dakota, which now has a single system that is helping with mass notification for inclement weather.


Adjusting to the Problem, Not the Product

The state has a lot of problematic weather, and residents are used to it. Technology, on the other hand, is not always so adaptable. The state of North Dakota and its University System required a mass notification program that would work in rain or shine, flood or blizzard.

State officials worked with SunGard Availability Services to integrate its Notifind notification management system that would not be affected by any inclement weather or power outages.

“This is a living document,” says David Klein, executive director the Stutsman County Housing Authority and Notifind administrator for the University System. “It’s not a written plan on a shelf that you never review. You have to go over it, adapt it for added buildings and systems, to keep up on it.”

The system allows officials throughout the state to track students’ and employees’ information across multiple state and university platforms, issue alerts and notifications, disperse preparedness plans, follow compliance and even conduct classes online. The state has a single, unified system that contains information on students and faculty across 11 campuses and all state agencies.

“In North Dakota, we've all been through one disaster or another in the past couple years,” Klein says. “If the power goes out, though, you can still access the plan. After record flooding in 2009, we reviewed the system and procedures and made changes.” He noted that officials can access the system from WiFi in local coffee shops or by text message sending notifications across both government and University contact lists to ensure business continuity and efficiency throughout the state.


The Turn-Around Story

Sacramento Regional Transit has had various partnerships to guard its light rail operations since its creation in 1987. Sometimes it’s just a name change and all operations remain the same, but the biggest change occurred when G4S took over the contract in May 2005. After a challenging transition, the project has evolved to 11 uniformed train guards who walk the train cars throughout the day, checking for safety hazards, discouraging nuisance behavior and alert police about criminal activity or people needing medical attention, communicating through their entire shift with teams of video controllers, mobile sergeants and station guards. 

“Overall, the priorities for contract security and our sworn officers are the same: prevent crime, help people feel safe, and deliver great customer service,” says Sgt. Doug Voska of Sacramento Regional Transit. “You have to engage people, both regular passengers and the occasional problem person. If they don’t feel safe, they won’t ride public transportation.”

“This is a turn-around story,” he added. “The company recognized the need for change and then put the resources in place the fix the problem. Today, our relationship is as good as anywhere.”

“When getting involved with public-private sector partnerships, don’t be surprised by competing priorities,” says Anderson of Ryder. “Remember, the private sector is motivated by innovation and efficiency and is inherently risk-taking. The public sector is charged with safety and protection and is motivated by stability and predictability. Nonetheless, neither side works in a vacuum. The private sector recognizes that good security is critical to sustainability and the public sector understands that business cannot be halted in the name of security. Finding the right balance is at the heart of public-private sector partnerships,” he notes.

Anderson suggests that supply chain security is an area that’s very progressive in terms of partnerships, especially as the White House announced its National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security. “The initiative recognizes that much of the global supply chain is owned and operated by the private sector, therefore a successful supply chain security strategy will depend on the U.S. Government’s ability to work with other stakeholders,” Anderson says.

As more and more sectors call for these lines of open communication, private businesses can prepare to offer up more than just best practices, but also unique solutions to multiple issues within a public organization, creating an advanced synergy to the partnership. Public organizations can offer up information and law enforcement expertise that private companies cannot or do not have the resources to access, strengthening their defenses against attacks.

Through active communication and an eye for synergy, all of the stakeholders can profit from targeted, multipurpose partnerships.

At ASIS 2012

Session: The 2012 Republican National Convention: Creating a Successful Private and Government Partnership

As points of view clash and convictions are tested, the process for securing an event of this magnitude leaves no room for error. This session will highlight successful operational strategies in developing a strategic plan using security assessments, in conjunction with National Special Security Event partners, to develop effective security plans for political conventions and venues. Presenters Albert Concordia, CPP, Director of Security for the 2012 Republican National Convention, and Mark Camillo, Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning at Contemporary Services Corporation. Attend ASIS 2012 and find out how to effectively gauge security readiness to overcome potential show-stopping incidents. For details and registration visit

ASIS International Rallies for Partnerships

ASIS International has consistently been one of the top advocates for public-private partnerships throughout the security industry – forming MOUs and task forces to either assist others create meaningful partnerships or to further the organization’s own goals.

Brian Reich, chairman of the ASIS International Law Enforcement Liaison Council, is focusing his attention on several key efforts this year.

The Council is partnering with the ASIS Military Liaison Council and Prudential, Inc., to help law enforcement and military service men and women transition to new private-sector careers. According to Reich, seminars, such as the one held on March 30, bring private and public industry leaders together to assist veterans and officers enhance their resumes, discuss job skills and prepare for an entirely different security culture.

“The goals are inherently different,” Reich says. “While detectives might be out to make an arrest, private security professionals have to think about the cost of making that arrest — ROI – based thinking makes a big difference.”

“Outreach to military and veteran organizations is one of our focused goals here,” says Lori Hennon-Bell, Chief Global Security Officer at Prudential. “We worked hard to find panelists and volunteers who could help the attendees identify with the information being presented and be able to use it.” Panelists included former public sector employees who had already transitioned to the private sector and business professionals and recruiters who could tell attendees what they look for in job candidates. According to Prudential, Inc., 80 law enforcement and military members attended the event.

Expanding networking circles and strategies was also a key component, says Kenneth Ribler, chairman of the ASIS Military Liaison Council.

“It’s a challenge to make that leap (to the private sector),” Ribler says. “A lot of folks don’t have that network engagement from their military experience compared to a civilian’s networking skills.” According to all three partners, the resume building portion of the event was the key to helping former public sector employees understand how to translate their experience to business applications, specifically in how those skills add value to an organization.

 Another mission that Reich is working on is the Council’s recent MOU with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, signed this month. According to NCMEC, nearly 800,000 children are reported missing each year, with 58,200 of those being non-family abductions, and the number of reported cases of child sexual exploitation is growing. Time is of the essence, they say, because out of all children who are abducted and killed, only 15 percent survive more than a day. Forty-seven percent are dead within an hour.

“This partnership will show the benefits of having child-protective measures in an organization. The mishandling of a child exploitation case has huge impact and liability – it damages the brand,” Reich says. “But more than that, these measures help save children’s lives. We have an ethical responsibility here.”

According to NCMEC, “Private sector security can play a major role in protecting children from all forms of abduction and sexual exploitation. This county’s future is dependent upon the growth and development of children, making effective child protection vital.”

Through ASIS, the Center is offering CSOs a first responder checklist and other resources on how to handle cases of missing or sexually exploited children. For more information on how to become a NCMEC partner, visit