We're all in this together

Dangerous times, constricted budgets and personnel shortages lend new respect to public-private partnerships


     Even before 9/11 changed the way those charged with keeping the peace looked at security, public-private partnerships were starting to blossom and grow. Now, with teamwork being a critical component of national as well as individual security, the public safety community combines forces with the private security industry on a more frequent basis. And working together is providing tangible benefits to everyone, including the taxpayer.

     One of the first efforts to see the benefits from the partnering of the public and private sectors can be found in a study sponsored by the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice. One published statement about the venture says it all: "When law enforcement agencies and private security organizations work together, pooling their own particular strengths, the result often exceeds what either party could accomplish alone. Such partnerships pay rich dividends for police, businesses and the public. Cooperation in resources and information sharing, and joint planning and operations may lead to more comprehensive and efficient responses to crime, disasters and terrorism."

     Public-private partnering with security companies is not a new thing, but it has become a better thing. The following article takes a look at a couple of the companies that are making it their business to work with law enforcement agencies, and how those efforts are presently working.

Higher education

     AlliedBarton Security Services, an enormous company that covers industries ranging from higher education to petrochemical, commercial real estate, financial institutions, health care services and manufacturing among others, makes working with criminal justice agencies a top priority. There's a good reason for this — company officials say not only does forging a coalition with one another work, but it offers the public a higher standard of safety.

     Glenn Rosenburg, vice president of higher education for AlliedBarton, says the company's philosophy is to "work with the police department to supplement them, not supplant them. We off-load a lot of routine tasks associated with everyday policing."

     Rounding out a campus police department at a college or university is right up AlliedBarton's alley, according to Rosenburg, and he sells their services as a cost-effective alternative to additional sworn campus police. He says many large, research-oriented universities have a private component in their campus security and some of AlliedBarton's clients include Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Penn and Duke. Many state universities are following their lead and opting for augmenting their forces through private companies.

     In the crystal light of hindsight during the days after the terrible and tragic Virginia Tech shootings, it is clear that colleges and universities can no longer consider security a "business as usual" service they routinely provide. Times change and so do threat levels. For university officials across the country, pumping up the security level may very well mean adding resources using a private contractor to cover locations where none existed before.

     One of the services private companies like AlliedBarton provides includes non-sworn access control. This includes access to the campus in general, to specific buildings such as media centers, administrative offices and laboratories, as well as dormitories and student housing — a prime concern among parents of college-bound students. Private security or contracted services now handles many of these details — even ones that traditionally went to grad students or upperclassmen, like monitoring the front desk in residence halls.

     Other services companies like AlliedBarton provide include campus patrol, transport services, escorts, working lock-outs, checking doors to make certain they are closed and locked, monitoring alarms and standing fire watches. With some of the major grunt work out of the way, campus police can better focus on more detailed follow-ups, investigations, detective work, crime prevention (although private security also focuses on many aspects of crime prevention) and taking cases to court.

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