Tom M. Conley
Security patrol services, risk management.
Conley’s security officers must study for and acquire a Certified Protection Officer (CPO) certification After nearly 40 years of a sustained and concentrated effort to transition the security industry to the security profession, Tom Conley is still beating his “security profession drum” at full volume. He still hopes that the security industry-to-profession movement will one day be a reality. He sees himself as an eternal optimist embarking on a feat of nearly Biblical proportion. He contends it’s a cause that has long been ignored. While there are a lot of moving parts involved in the security industry transitioning to become the security profession, it all starts with security officers being carefully hired and trained as professionals. Public Perceptions Of Security Officers “Typically, security officers can only observe and report,” says Tom M. Conley, CPP, President and CEO of the Des Moines-based The Conley Group, Inc. “If security officers cannot also react and respond appropriately, then they cannot do their job. It is that simple and uncomplicated.” Compare and contrast the public image of today’s professional law enforcement officer with that of the high percentage of traditional guards that comprise the majority of the guard industry, continues Conley. People understand that law enforcement officers undergo rigorous initial and ongoing security training. Thanks to that training, law enforcement officers can, by and large, help or protect people in a little trouble — or in very serious danger. “Not so about the traditional guards of today that occupy position of great responsibility with little to no training,” Conley says. “The public generally thinks of security officers as poorly paid, low-level watchpersons with little or no training and little or no competence. The simple and ugly truth is that public perception is highly accurate.” Hiring Qualified And Trained Officers Why? Contract security firms typically sell their security services as provided by their guards as having been trained in all aspects of security. Companies buying those services sometimes rely on that representation, which is often inaccurate. Other time, companies buying those low-priced guard services know full well that what they are buying is nothing short of a scam to their organization. "The public generally thinks of security officers as poorly paid, low-level watchpersons with little or no training and little or no competence. The simple and ugly truth is that public perception is highly accurate" “The fundamental problem is the gap between what organizations need in terms of protection and the competencies (or, more accurately the lack thereof) that security guards are able to provide,” says Conley. “That’s what happens when a contract security company hires guards as cheaply as possible instead of hiring people who can become professional security officers.” “Security doesn’t receive support from the C-Suite, either — because there are no metrics that illustrate the value of security to a business enterprise. Lack of C-level support is another reason you get low paid, untrained officers. If executives truly understood the type of protection they DO NOT have with tradition guards, it would keep them up at night.” CPO Certification “All of this traditional guard incompetency and seemingly low-cost nonsense to change or organizations and their employees will suffer the consequences of failing to have adequate protection.” Conley has endeavoured to set the “security profession” example for 35-plus years now. His security officers must study for and acquire a Certified Protection Officer (CPO) certification from the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO). Topics of study for that certification include: Crisis Intervention The Protection Officer as a Leader Security Risk Management Antiterrorism and VIP Protection Crime and Incident Scene Procedures Interviewing and Statements Defensive Tactics and Officer Safety Apprehension and Detention Procedures Information Security and Counterintelligence Many, many other topics Conley’s firm does not retain security officers past three months that do not obtain their CPO certification. “Candidly, not everyone is disciplined or smart enough to pass the CPO examination. Those are the exact type of people who occupy most of the security industry and are the ones we do not want.” Once an officer earns their CPO certification, they must then periodically recertify with the IFPO. “If any officer loses their CPO certification, then they lose their job. It’s that simple.” Complying With Law Enforcement Standards Once new officers have completed CPO training, Conley sends them to a police training academy where he hires an off-duty police officer who is also a certified peace officer police instructor. His security officers are then trained and qualified to law enforcement standards. Training includes all lethal and non-lethal weapons used by police officers including the ASP Collapsible Baton, Handcuffing, OC Mace and Defensive Tactics. Then comes firearms training where his security officers must qualify on a range to law enforcement standards. "Candidly, not everyone is disciplined or smart enough to pass the CPO examination. Those are the exact type of people who occupy most of the security industry and are the ones we do not want" That is a lot of training, but Conley asks, “What is the alternative? The answer: traditional guards and that’s a loser for everyone except the guard companies who make in the billions of dollars every year by hiring low-wage, unqualified people right off the street, dressing them in a uniform that is still likely warm from the person who just turned it in on their way out the door, and then placing the new guard on post at a customer location with little or no training. That’s just dangerous and is truly a recipe for disaster. “By stark contrast, I make sure our people are competently trained,” says Conley. “By properly training and equipping our people, we are giving them all the tools they need to be successful as well as safe — we want all of them to go home in one piece at the end of their shifts.” Firearms On The Job Conley also believes security officers should carry firearms on the job because unarmed guards are literally not equipped nor capable of being able to effectively neutralise a deadly force threat. “A professionally trained and fully-qualified armed security officer is essential when facing a deadly force threat. Even if the police are right across the street, they cannot physically get there in time to prevent a shooting. Choosing to have an unarmed traditional guard versus having a professionally trained and fully-qualified armed security officer on site follows the same flawed logic that there is no need to have a fire extinguisher on site because we can just call the fire department if a fire breaks out. This analogy highlights the core flawed nature of any organization having unarmed traditional guards.” “There should be no such thing as an unarmed security officer,” he says. “What if an unarmed security officer knocks on a door and is attacked and permanently injured? He or she has a complaint against his company for failing to provide proper training and protection. Call traditional guards something else, but do not call them security because they are not.” When an adverse event occurs, and when traditional guards fail as they nearly always do, and when harm results, that can also be a violation of the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which says, employers have a legal obligation to reasonably protect employees against obvious and foreseeable dangers. “A professionally trained and fully-qualified armed security officer is essential when facing a deadly force threat. Even if the police are right across the street, they cannot physically get there in time to prevent a shooting Security Profession Vs. Security Guard “An OSHA fine then sets up a civil lawsuit against the company for gross negligence. All of a sudden, that low-cost guard company turns out not to be such a low cost after all.” While some, if not many, contract security firm executives would disagree with Conley’s contention that all security officers carry firearms on the job, it is difficult to argue against the comprehensive training Conley provides for his recruits – and the results of his officers’ performance at their customer locations. Conley does not blame contract security firm executives if they disagree with him. “I would not want traditional guards being armed either” said Conley. When Conley’s security officers go out on the job, they have turned professional. As for the rest of the guard industry, Conley’s calls for a security profession versus a security (guard) industry continue. As he says, “The beat goes on.”
For high value individuals such as the Pope,agencies have access to unlimited publicresources in terms of money and people The Pope’s visit to the United States reminds us that protecting big-name executives, celebrities and dignitaries is a highly specialized security function. Public and private executive protection groups begin preparing for the visit of major world figures months ahead of time. “It is a task of massive proportions,” says Tom M. Conley, CPP, CISM, CMAS, president and CEO of The Conley Group, Inc. “The Pope, presidents, presidential candidates and others want to meet people, and they often plunge into crowds.” Then again, Conley notes that unlimited public and government assets become available to protect major public figures like the Pope. Their safety is of the utmost importance, and public agencies invest huge amounts of time and resources in their protection. National Special Security Events According to the Secret Service, dozens of federal, state and local agencies combined forces to protect the Pope in his visits to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. The Department of Homeland Security designated the Papal visit to New York City a National Special Security Event. For such an event, the Secret Service acts as the lead federal agency for the design, implementation and oversight of the operational security plan. The plan creates and secures perimeters around events, sets up security checkpoints to screen people for admission to facilities as well as parade routes. The plan also includes a long list of prohibited items that screeners will confiscate from people passing through the checkpoints. In addition, there are airspace restrictions and maritime restrictions enforced by the U.S. Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security. Public Agencies’ Combined Protection The private sector doesn’t havethe manpower, technology or thegovernment’s access to threatintelligence. That can significantlyhinder the effectiveness of a privateprotection detail “It is a huge task,” Conley says. “But public agencies have handled these kinds of security programs so often that they know how to do it well. Even more importantly, for high value individuals such as the Pope, agencies have access to unlimited public resources in terms of money and people.” For example, every security operations force runs TTPs, an acronym for tactics, techniques and procedures, continues Conley. These are virtual toolboxes that combine surveillance and intelligence collection and analysis. “The agencies combine assets and people to create a controlled environment — similar to battlefield dominance as it is called in the military,” says Conley. That is how public figures are protected. Protecting executives, celebrities and other private luminaries with private resources is quite different. “The private sector doesn’t have the manpower, technology or the government’s access to threat intelligence,” Conley says. “That can significantly hinder the effectiveness of a private protection detail.” Private Executive Protection Challenges Every private security company today must deal with the corporate demand to make some business contribution to the company. Executive protection firms are no different. “We have developed metrics to prove the business value that our corporate executive protection services provide,” says Robert Oatman, CPP, president of RL Oatman & Associates, Inc., and chair of the ASIS International Executive Protection Council. Oatman’s new book, “Executive Protection: Smarter, Faster, Better,” makes a business case connected to travel time. “If we save an hour or more per day for the principal,” he says, “we can produce a true return on investment. “With that in mind, our firm’s mission is to provide executive protection as a security specialty focused on safeguarding the life, health, time, reputation and peace of mind of corporate executives and others who face elevated risk.” Oatman also says that executive protection today no longer looks like bodyguards with guns. “No one wants in-your-face protection,” he says. “Our clients want us to be more stealthy and under the radar — to get it done without any drama.” Oatman’s company provides executive protection and executive protection training for public and private companies as well as government entities. “We recently established the first ASIS International Council on Executive Protection,” Oatman says. “Launched in October, 2014, the EP Council is now accepting membership.” Taking a cue from Oatman’s goal of serving corporate business purposes, the new ASIS Council aims to focus on executive protection as a business enabler to keep clients safe as well as productive.
Police intelligence can help security directorsto understand the criminal trends across theirarea or city Corporate security has changed dramatically over the last few years. Traditionally, security has always been associated with physical protection and installation of security systems. In this article, Tom M. Conley, president and CEO of The Conley Group, discusses the importance of information received from law enforcement. A good rapport with law enforcement can help security directors get local criminal intelligence, which in turn will help them secure their enterprise and its assets. A police officer recently called the security director of a multi-story downtown office building. “You might want to tell your people to stay away from the convenience store across the street for a week or so.” “There are ways of passing along information without really saying what you mean,” says Tom M. Conley, president and CEO of The Conley Group, a Des Moines, Iowa-based security-consulting firm. “In this case, the police indicated that there might be some kind of criminal activity at the convenience store.” “Perhaps a snitch told them that a robbery is being planned,” says Conley, who is also a former police captain. “By law, the police can’t pass along specific intelligence, but they can suggest a path of action such as telling people to avoid the convenience store for a week or so.” Would your local police department share such a suggestion with you? If you haven’t built a professional and credible relationship with that department, the answer is no. Intelligence On Criminal Trends “Typically, the police don’t know about security and risk management. That isn’t their area of expertise. But the police do have good data about criminal trends and the types of crimes occurring in and around all of the areas in their cities,” says Conley. “They also have specific intelligence that can help your security cause.” “A security director has to look past the end of the property’s sidewalk. It’s very important to understand the criminal trends across the area of the city around their property.” The police would be able to point out the gang area a couple of blocks south of your building. They might also tell you that the block of storefronts to the north is usually safe during the day, but iffy from the early evening on. The police will fill you in when you ask for the data. “You can find out how many robberies and other crimes occurred in an area in the past year,” Conley says. “While it is important to know what has happened in your area, you can’t address tomorrow’s threats with yesterday’s data.” Trusting Relationship With Police Of course, you need to assemble a security program capable of dealing with the risk profile your security assessment has developed for your building. "By law, the police can’t pass alongspecific intelligence, but they cansuggest a path of action" You also need the area intelligence picked up by the police. “Intelligence is loosely defined as non-public information that may be relevant to your enterprise,” Conley says. “For instance, your police contact might mention that there are rumours of a robbery being planned for that block of storefronts to your north. They might mention that they are keeping an eye on the spouse of a woman working in your building.” “That is the kind of timely and actionable intelligence that you need.” But the police won’t share such intelligence with you unless they trust you. You will have to build a professional and trusting relationship with them. “The police won’t work with people that aren’t professional and credible,” says Conley. “Forming such a relationship can be challenging.” “You will have to reach out to law enforcement and work to develop a two-way information sharing relationship.” InfraGard - Sharing Threat Information InfraGard is an organization that can extend your relationships to and beyond local law enforcement to the FBI and other security directors in your city. “InfraGard is a public-private organization started by the FBI in the late 1990s,” Conley says. “You’ll have to be vetted, but you can join for free.” As a member, security professionals and law enforcement will share threat information with you and you with them — with no chance that security threats involving your company will be made public. “InfraGard is a way for law enforcement to reach out to security directors, build trust and find ways to work together,” Conley says. “Equally important, it is a way for security directors to build a trusted working relationship with law enforcement.”
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