4 Strategies for Improving Organizational Safety and Security

While every organization's location, circumstances and risks vary widely, there are several basic security strategies that can begin to pave the path to a more secure work environment.


Some cities and counties across the country have taken measures to reduce law enforcement funding in favor of other community-based needs or organizations. While the debate on the effectiveness and results of such budgetary reallocation continues, many leaders are left wondering what to do when the resource they previously relied on for security and protection is no longer as readily available as it once was.

Based on what I'm seeing, organizations ranging from factories to professional services to schools are beginning to struggle with the realities of implementing increased security measures, yet often without the knowledge or expertise to know if the changes will actually be effective. Furthermore, many organizations haven't budgeted for an increase in security expenditures, thus creating a greater gap in safety.

As a former law enforcement professional who now leads safety and security training for both schools and businesses, I recommend business leaders consider the following strategies in physical security to help mitigate crime and detour violence:

Access Control and Visitor Management

The foundation of any security plan is the controlled access to assets or buildings. Whether the control is by electronic key cards, physical keys, exterior fences or gates, ensuring only authorized people have access to defined areas is critical not only to asset protection but also to personnel safety. Access control isn't limited to office buildings or warehouses; in organizations that are open to the public, access control may be locked display cases, securing high-value merchandise or restricting access to storerooms or employee-only areas.

For professional environments and schools with restricted access, visitor management plays a vital role in understanding who is authorized to be in defined areas and for what length of time. Regardless of the type of access control, regularly audit assigned keys, badges or other access devices to ensure none are missing/lost or retained by a terminated employee or an employee who has otherwise changed roles or responsibilities.

Security Systems

Many buildings utilize a security alarm of some type, along with a surveillance camera system. However, these systems can become obsolete over time or stop functioning. Alarms and cameras should be tested regularly to ensure operability. A system review may be required to ensure the appropriate number of door sensors, cameras and other components based on any change in the layout of the interior space or movement of critical areas/storage.

In addition, ensure the system is being monitored either by a third-party provider or internal personnel trained in how the various systems work and how to respond to alarm activations. Consider 30 to 45 days of surveillance footage storage with proper policies for access, review and release.

Private Security

I'm finding that some organizations are opting to pay for dedicated private security in the absence of law enforcement. Often seen as a visual deterrent, uniformed security officers can play a role in preventing crimes, reducing losses and managing security systems such as access control, visitor management, alarms and surveillance cameras. However, this can be a costly option and one that is out of reach for some organizations.

Especially in the absence of defined uniformed security officers, each employee plays a role in the organization's security. Checking for visitor badges, reporting unusual circumstances or broken security devices, regularly locking doors and increasing awareness should all be a part of organizational culture. Consider additional professional development training for topics such as workplace violence prevention, situational awareness, personal safety and active shooter.

Security Design

Aside from fences and door locks, the overall design and appearance of the workplace should be taken into consideration. Avoid dark or poorly lit areas in outdoor spaces or parking lots, remove illegal graffiti, maintain landscaping and fix items in disrepair such as broken windows, doors, pavement/sidewalks, etc. The overall appearance of a building or property can either be inviting to potential crime or help to prevent it.

While every organization's location, circumstances and risks vary widely, these basic security strategies can begin to pave the path to a more secure work environment. Though security is usually the last topic on most leaders' minds, it is the first topic in creating an environment that is safe and for the protection of the most important asset of all: your people.

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