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Logistics in Security

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Implementing security measures at public events is always a challenge. The amount of delay and inconvenience caused by security needs to be weighed against the visitors’ experience and the overall goal of the event. At sporting events, games are ongoing throughout the year and security has the advantage of experimenting with different measures and improving upon methods where needed. For a ‘one off’ event, it is more difficult as there is only one chance to get it right.

On Canada Day in Ottawa, many people wanted to get to Parliament Hill to see the festivities. The security inside the Parliamentary precinct was the responsibility of the RCMP and the Parliamentary Protective Service, which also managed the lines and screening stations. Some people waited three to four hours in line waiting to get on Parliament Hill. Some people breezed through security, but others were left angry and frustrated. Many took to social media or contacted newspapers with their complaints such as “Ottawa should be embarrassed,” “Shame on Ottawa,” and “Ottawa failed its tourists”.

Darlene Macartney of Toronto complained of disorganization and poor services for those waiting in line. “You wanted us to come to Ottawa. We came. We spent over the top exorbitant prices for hotel rooms,” she wrote. “We got up early in the rain to line up for what we thought might be two hours to get onto Parliament Hill. No. We waited 5 and a half hours with no exaggeration,” Macartney wrote.

The capacity for screening was not adequate to deal with the number of visitors and the times at which they arrived. Ottawa had aimed to screen 8,000 people per hour with two screening stations, but that was based on the expectation people would arrive dressed for summer weather. In fact, they came in rain gear, many with backpacks, food, and drinks since there was no food available in the area.

Logistic principals could have been improved upon by eliminating bottlenecks in line. Perhaps, the two screening stations should have been more flexible and either increased capacity or added a third screening station to deal with the peak in demand.

I think the screening protocols were well thought out, and instructions were clear, so changing these to speed the process up would not have been a good idea. This would have created an increased risk, which would not have been acceptable.

On a positive note, Canada Day’s celebrations were enjoyed without any major incidents, and the security was sufficient.

 

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Post Order Confusion

shutterstock_172646537Everybody in our industry can explain the importance of post orders as a means to clarify roles and responsibilities between parties involved. The most commonly used definition is: Post orders are written documents that clearly outline duties, responsibilities, and expectations of security guards. The client, service provider and security professional fulfilling the role can find out what is expected by looking at the post orders. Often the post orders become extensive and complex. Some sections can be used as a manual in non-urgent situations, while other parts are essential and describe actions that need to be taken in emergencies. To ensure guards know what to do, they should be trained and quizzed regularly. The use of quick reference cards has proven helpful and can also be used as instructions for short term assignments. It is also important to explain the logic behind the procedures. If it makes sense to someone, it is easier to follow and remember.

Even when guards are well trained and know the post orders, they can fail. Specifically in situations when instructions are not fully detailed in the post orders or when it differs from the normal course of action.

On December 19th, 2016, an unexpected tragedy shook the diplomatic world; Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov was assassinated at an art gallery exhibition in front of several TV cameras. Mevlut Mert Altintas, an off-duty police officer, shot him. Although the post orders apparently outlined how to act in a situation like this, the security officers got confused. They should have refused access and inquired with managing authorities before letting the off-duty police officer in. Instead, they were intimidated by the police badge and let him through.

Another example is seen in the film Snowden, when Edward Snowden makes copies of confidential files and exits the CIA building with the files. At the risk of a “spoiler alert” I will refrain from revealing further details, but the post orders were not followed thus leading to an international scandal.

In short, post orders are essential and should be followed to the letter. Training and testing are essential to keep security officers on their toes. Moreover, when in doubt, no access should be given until further verification has been confirmed.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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Non-Core Policing – A Shift in Thinking

The idea of police concentrating on core assignments and moving other tasks to the private sector (security industry) is nothing new. However, in the last two years, the topic has gained more interest to reduce the growth in budgets.

As police salaries have continually increased over the past decade, the Liberal government now has to face the unenviable task of telling public servants to hold the line. Police are one of the biggest costs for municipal taxpayers and it just keeps growing. This is also the case for provincial police (OPP), but small municipalities are hit the hardest because they do not have a large commercial and industrial tax base to rely on.

One solution is to contract out non-core police duties to security firms. Police officers that make the ‘sunshine list’ are taking routine reports, acting as receptionists at police stations, giving parking tickets and doing the work of administrative assistants. Well-trained security staff can perform these types of duties for less than half the cost. There is no logic in having a police officer directing traffic around a construction site. The security industry does not want to replace police officers, but simply to play a role fulfilling the routine work that doesn’t require police training. With today’s ongoing threats of terrorism, the police service has more important tasks to concentrate on.

Toronto is seriously looking into this issue. In June of this year, an interim report was published “The Way Forward: Modernizing Community Safety in Toronto”. Although the report centres around improving the quality of service, it also recognizes the need for cost reduction and changing primary tasks. The report contains 24 interim recommendations and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Various proposals may lead to some police tasks, such as paid duty, shifting to the security industry. The current process of paid duty is not well understood and often puts the reputation of the Toronto Police service at risk. The final report will include working with a risk assessment model to ensure off-duty police officers are only used in a paid duty capacity where their skills, authority, and training are necessary.

We will follow these developments closely.

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