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  • Question about LP using contract security

    I am seeing more and more retail stores hiring contract security personnel to effectively partner with LP; give back up in shoplifting incidents and to patrol the exterior of the building. Is this a good idea or a bad one?

  • #2
    I think it depends on what they're there for.

    The Securitas guard in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, for example, is most likely not there to do anything related to LP, but simply to provide a visible deterrent to crime in the parking lot.
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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    • #3
      In my neck of the woods, we have companies that have contract L.P. agents.

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      • #4
        In my corporate security/loss prevention career, I have contracted with security companies to provide services at retail locations. Services ranged from executive protection, strike security, parking lot security, premise security (after a disastrous event) and for shoplifter apprehension.

        In the case of shoplifter apprehension (in one company), I completely outsourced this function. The benefits were substantial.
        Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
        Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

        Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Security Consultant View Post
          In the case of shoplifter apprehension (in one company), I completely outsourced this function. The benefits were substantial.
          What benefits did you gain from doing so?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Christopherstjo View Post
            What benefits did you gain from doing so?
            Savings consisted of:

            Salaries/Benefits: (Monthly) In-house - $28,000 Contract - $15,500

            Company Vehicles: (Yearly) $50,000

            Reduced Liability: In the years I used contract services there was one "nonsense" suit settled for $500 by the contract company. This was not the case with in-house staff. I won't divulge figures here.

            I wrote the policy/procedure manual that was followed by the contract company staff. I could have any contract employee removed.

            Shoplift apprehensions increased an average of 200 per month, therefore Civil Demand income sharply increased. I was able to take the savings and invest it in programs that further saved the company money.
            Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
            Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

            Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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            • #7
              Standard reasons why people contract for security services in the first place. Lower TCO, higher ROI, and lessened liability.

              When employed properly, i.e. to replace or supplement a service that you require, contract security can be useful in that regard. However, when comapnies hire contract security forces to "look pretty" then have a full in-house LP operation, one has to wonder where the ROI is for the contract?

              Your high risk (worker's comp, liability insurance, etc) operation is the actual investigation of and depriving people their rights of LP operation. The contract guards just wander around, usually, being a visible deterrence or bagging groceries.

              Where's the ROI on the grocery bagging security guard at 14 an hour (man-hour per account)?
              Some Kind of Commando Leader

              "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by N. A. Corbier View Post
                Standard reasons why people contract for security services in the first place. Lower TCO, higher ROI, and lessened liability.

                When employed properly, i.e. to replace or supplement a service that you require, contract security can be useful in that regard. However, when comapnies hire contract security forces to "look pretty" then have a full in-house LP operation, one has to wonder where the ROI is for the contract?

                Your high risk (worker's comp, liability insurance, etc) operation is the actual investigation of and depriving people their rights of LP operation. The contract guards just wander around, usually, being a visible deterrence or bagging groceries.

                Where's the ROI on the grocery bagging security guard at 14 an hour (man-hour per account)?
                My investigative staff remained in-house. The contract security company worked plain clothes. If I ever walked into a store and found contract security bagging groceries - I would disclipine the manager on duty.
                Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

                Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

                Comment


                • #9
                  The primary decision to outsource is typically financial. Most often it is done to reduce overhead expenses. Very rarely would it make sense to outsource if it is not saving you money.

                  The best other reasons to outsource may include:

                  - Increased expertise
                  - Speedy implementation
                  - Better coverage
                  - Greater flexibility
                  - Improved performance

                  Think of it this way, if you are an LP professional, you have focused your years of building an effective LP program. There are many facets to that. Now, you decide you need uniformed security personnel. In addition to the costs of payroll, you have to look at the time involved in hiring, training, and supervising these people. That can be a pretty significant expenditure when starting from scratch. It probably makes the most sense to just contract that service out and have your guard team in place tomorrow. They are trained and ready to go immediately.

                  On top of the speed of implementation, you should also have (but not always) a better trained work force than you could manage yourself. This is the security guard company's specialty, so they should have people ready and more equipped than you would do yourself.

                  So, if you get a service that costs less than in-house, can be implemented immediately, provides better training, gives better coverage and provides more flexibility, it should be a no-brainer to outsource. Of course, the big IF is always there. Unfortunately, more outsourcing services do not provide all of this. And that is what makes it tougher for the rest of us that provide outsourced services.
                  www.plsolutions.net
                  www.customerloyaltysolutions.com

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                  • #10
                    My current company is thinking about hiring a private security company, because we are sick and tired of our in house guards, with the turnover, and the corruption. It's expensive to have in house at FT with full benefits than it is to hire a private security company to fill the void. If we don't like the peformance of an individual guard we can always have them replace. We may go that route and keep the investigators and possible one in house guard as supervisors.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ms. Enforcer View Post
                      My current company is thinking about hiring a private security company, because we are sick and tired of our in house guards, with the turnover, and the corruption. It's expensive to have in house at FT with full benefits than it is to hire a private security company to fill the void. If we don't like the peformance of an individual guard we can always have them replace. We may go that route and keep the investigators and possible one in house guard as supervisors.
                      Unfortunately you give contract security too much credit. Merely replacing an s/o, and it is likely this will be done numerous of times, does not reduce the possibility of turnover rates and certainly not corruption; to the contrary when these s/o's are under the direction of their employer and its' policies / procedures or the lack thereof.

                      I know of one major retail chain outlet, here in KCMO, that has elected to use contract security primarily for "window dressing" but also to give LP backup when they apprehend a suspect. The client goes to extensive efforts to regulate the contract s/o's to the point that it creates a conflict of interest and has, on occasion, sought to force the s/o to commit criminal acts in turning blind eyes to criminal activity on their property that did not involve shoplifting.

                      This beg's the question of where the line is drawn between the authority of a retail client and the s/o's employer in prescribing the specific post orders and duties of the s/o?

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                      • #12
                        The short answer is that the client has substantial latitude to decide what, and even if any, enforcement of public laws will be carried out by SOs on the client's premises, as well as what precise form such enforcement will take (for instance, apprehension versus reporting). In some jurisdictions the nature or gravity of the crime is a factor.

                        What constraints (or mandates) there might be regarding enforcement arise primarily in the civil laws pertaining to liability. There can be liability that attaches both ways...both to enforcement activities and to nonenforcement (for instance, when "turning a blind eye" creates a foreseeably dangerous situation for visitors/employees, etc.). This is why it is very important to consult corporate legal counsel when developing policies and procedures for SOs.

                        We seem to keep needing to make this point: Security is not law enforcement, either by law or by mission, and this principle applies at least broadly even to public LE officers who are "moonlighting" on private property as SOs, although this seems to vary from one court's jurisdiction to another. One of the facts which seems to distinguish some of the cases in deciding whether a moonlighting LE is an "LE" or an "SO" (while he is moonlighting) is whether, in a particular department, an officer is ever considered to be "off duty" as a matter of formal policy.

                        And then, of course, there is the fact that as a matter of practical policy we do not hold even public LE officers responsible to make an arrest or even to put a stop to every code violation, etc. that they happen to see, even in the public space let alone the private space.

                        Finally, it deserves mention that the SO's responsibility is to carry out the duties assigned to him and to leave questions of enforcement policy to his superiors. If the SO feels that he is being asked to do (or to permit) something that is illegal, and if in discussing it with his superior there seems to be no resolution, the SO has clear options...either accept the description of his duties as provided to him, or find another job. When you think about it, these are also the options open to the LE who believes he is being asked to commit (or permit) illegal activities that make him uncomfortable. Seek resolution with a superior and then decide whether you can live with the answer.
                        Last edited by SecTrainer; 06-04-2007, 01:08 PM.
                        "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                        "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                        "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                        "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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                        • #13
                          I've only seen a few states that create a legal duty to report a criminal offense. Wisconsin is one of them, but it only requires someone to report a violent felony... Unless you are a security guard, private policeman, or watchman, in which case you must report all violations of ordinance or law to the police in a timely fashion.
                          Some Kind of Commando Leader

                          "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by N. A. Corbier View Post
                            I've only seen a few states that create a legal duty to report a criminal offense. Wisconsin is one of them, but it only requires someone to report a violent felony... Unless you are a security guard, private policeman, or watchman, in which case you must report all violations of ordinance or law to the police in a timely fashion.
                            So, then, you're a Walmart SO cruising the lot and you spot an expired license plate or a car with one headlight...you have to report it?
                            "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                            "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                            "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                            "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Christopherstjo View Post
                              I am seeing more and more retail stores hiring contract security personnel to effectively partner with LP; give back up in shoplifting incidents and to patrol the exterior of the building. Is this a good idea or a bad one?
                              It's a good idea. I think Target has a good model in which they employ both in-house uniformed and plainclothes officers. It's gives the store security a visible presence in the building and also allows the uniformed officers to handle more traditional security duties (versus shoplifter detection) and also handle incidents which involve dealing with the public. For example, when a customer's vehicle is broken into in the parking lot, the uniformed officer can take a report rather than have a plainclothes officer blow his cover.

                              Many other stores that don't traditionally employ uniformed officers at all locations also sometimes elect to do so in higher crime or urban environments. For example, several large retailers have uniformed officers stationed at the door in their Seattle locations. I'm not sure which companies employ contract vs. in-house, though.

                              And finally, there were times when my own store would occasionally hire uniformed contract officers for special events (strikes in the parking lot), overnight duties (when construction contractors were working in the building), or to help watch the parking lot during periods when "grab & runs" were an issue.

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