What we can steal

SSN Staff  - 
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fundamentally, there are some operations tactics and guiding philosophies that the Israelis use that can and should be implemented in private security throughout the United States (see accompanying story, page 4).

Circles of security The Israelis organize their security in concentric circles. The reason they don’t have through-put problems at their malls, airports, bus stations, train stations, etc., where they have tighter security than anywhere but some American airports, is that they start screening people far earlier in the process. They screen cars 100 meters or more from the building. They have guards 20 meters away watching people walk in. They have metal detectors outside the doors. By the time you enter the building, you’ve been screened or profiled a number of times and you can basically get to where you want to go quite quickly.

Profiling We in the United States need to stop wasting time on people who are clearly not threats. I know it’s considered prudent to expect that anyone could be a terrorist, but if guards are well-trained in looking for suspicion indicators, I think it’s safe to start letting my four-year-old daughter go through the metal detector without taking her shoes off. And let me reiterate that profiling has nothing to do with race. Profiling is about the method of operation and looking for the likely behaviors that would be evidenced by someone looking to do others harm.

Empowering even the lowest member of the organization to make decisions and be decisive In Israel, they quite simply expect more of their average security guard than we do. Let’s expect more of ourselves. Let’s train our guards with meaningful content on how to spot bad guys and how to manage dangerous situations. Let’s do away with the joke that the TSA is just “welfare in a uniform.” In the military, I’ve been told that the new saying is, “every solider is a sensor.” Let’s make every security guard a sensor.

Using technology for its proper purpose The Israelis use plenty of very high-end technology, some of which I’m not allowed to outline. However, they understand that it’s never meant to replace people. For you, the security installers and integrators who are my readers, you’ve got to make sure that your sales people aren’t out there preaching a message of replacement, but one of augmentation. Stay with the mantra that technology can be a force multiplier. That’s true, and if your sales people don’t overpromise, you won’t underperform.

Making security everyone’s obligation In Israel, I heard countless stories of ordinary citizens playing vital roles in stopping suicide bombers. I watched a video at the Jerusalem police station where an ordinary citizen noticed a suspicious guy with a back-pack, jumped out of his car at an intersection, ran up to a police car, pointed at the guy and yelled, “that’s a suicide bomber.” The cop chased him down and prevented him from getting near a crowded shopping mall. Would that happen in the United States? Maybe yes, maybe no. We need to ask more, and expect more, of everyone in our organizations when it comes to security. Let’s make it okay again to be a little nosey. Along the way, we might even develop a meaningful sense of community that can be translated into recycling, energy-use, and business-efficiency purposes. Let’s rat some people out.