Our country’s police departments are under immense pressure to keep crime rates low despite whittled-down budgets and a reduction in staffing. As the CEO of the largest contract security force in the United States, I believe that improved public-private partnerships are essential. Over the past several decades, the power of these relationships has risen to the forefront.

There are many respected organizations dedicated to fostering dialogue between public and private entities. In the forefront are ASIS International’s Law Enforcement Liaison Council and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Private Sector Liaison Committee. These groups work to facilitate a collaborative environment for members to engage in the development, research, and implementation of programs and activities which foster cooperation and partnership between public law enforcement and private security professionals.

The majority of a typical police officer’s time is spent not on crime but on public nuisance and lifestyle assistance issues such as responding to noise complaints, administering first aid, rescuing domestic animals, and addressing public drunkenness. When private security works in partnership with law enforcement to respond to these issues, police officers have more time to focus on solving crimes and enforcing the laws of society.

Private security can supplement and support state, county and municipal police agencies by relieving them of some of their service calls. As budget reductions result in reduced police officer forces, more private and public enterprises are turning to contracted private security officers to supplement state, county and municipal police agencies.

We are seeing this trend across all industries. The keys to success are the hiring of high quality security professionals and the development of solid relationships between all public and private groups—whether or not formal agreements exist. Private contracted security officers dedicated to specific posts or areas make a significant impact on safety, security and caring for the people and businesses of our communities.

How can we honor these unsung professionals? The fourth annual National Security Officer Appreciation Week is celebrated September 16 – 22, 2018. This is an opportunity to say thank you, and recognize security officers’ many contributions to our daily lives. Join in the celebration by stopping a security officer where you live or work and say thank you; sharing your thanks on social media using #ThankYouSecurity; or recognizing a security officer you appreciate at AUS.com/ThankYouSecurity.

The responsibility of our country’s law enforcement agencies has been expanded beyond everyday crime to include terrorism, workplace violence and, sadly, school shootings. With many law enforcement agencies throughout the United States developing partnerships with private sector security, I believe that we can be assured of more effective policing, strengthen the ability to prevent crime and terrorism, and enjoy improved levels of public safety. I believe that America’s long-term success in reducing and preventing threats and violence, depends upon the extent to which law enforcement agencies engage in partnerships with the private sector.