In certain situations, partnership between private security operators and local law enforcement can be extremely helpful. I’ve been on both sides of this partnership, working for the sheriff’s office for many years before starting my own security company, so I’ve seen firsthand how a good partnership can make life easier for both sides.
If you think you might need to start working more with local law enforcement, here are some ways to identify what kind of partnership you might need and how to go about building that relationship.
Determining The Level Of Partnership
One of my first accounts I had after starting my own company was in a gang-infested area, so partnering with the police was an absolute necessity from the beginning. We were able to collect statistics on they types of incidents reported, keep police equipment from being targeted for vandalism or theft, and work with community relations.
On the flip side, the police were able to better control the area and respond quicker to our calls, meaning our own guards were safer and ended up having to make fewer calls to the police as crime rates dropped.
The level of crime in an area is the primary factor that determines how much involvement you need to have with law enforcement. No matter what, you should have some kind of working relationship with the police, but in a more suburban, safe environment it’s probably not necessary to develop extensive cooperation.
However, connections to the police department can be extremely useful even if you’re not currently working in a high crime area. A company that Johnny used to work for was able to win multiple new accounts after the police recommended them to shopping centers that were getting hit by thieves going after the copper in their HVAC systems.
“We got the referral because we had a long-standing relationship with them (the police),” said Johnny on today’s episode.
Police chiefs are evaluated based on issues such as calls for service and crime rates. If there’s an area or property with excessive calls, police will often try to reduce calls by recommending that those property owners or HOA’s hire private security, so they can be a great source of referrals.
How To Start A Partnership
Most police departments will have a community relations officer, so this is the first person you’ll want to approach. In the same way you want to go through the assistant or secretary when contacting a potential customer, it’s important to go through the designated outreach officer when establishing a relationship with the police. You want to show them that you’re willing to work with their established processes and make their lives easier.
The community outreach officer should be able to provide you with some valuable statistics on crime rates and most common issues, which is a nice segue into the next step in developing a partnership. Once you’ve looked through these numbers, you can ask the police to meet with you and potentially establish a community watch program to help combat these prevalent issues.
This is a great value add for your customers, showing that you can draw upon the resources and expertise of law enforcement. In most cases, the police department will be more than happy to lend you free advice, information about the area, and resources to establish watch programs and tackle the more minor, common issues so that they’re free to focus on big, felony crimes.
Finally, establish the criteria for when your company should be contacting the police. You don’t want your officers to be contacting the police directly every time a resident directs them to. There should be an established chain of escalation that runs through a supervisor who can then call the police with all the relevant information for those situations that warrant a response.
Part of establishing this criteria is understanding the local codes and regulations. If, for instance, you have to deal with a repeat loiterer, it’s vital that you know whether or not this person is actually committing a crime. Nothing will sour your relationship with police more than constantly calling them out for an issue when no crime has actually taken place.
“If that happened to me, when I was with another client, I did not refer that company, because they were not put together,” I told Johnny.
If the partnership is done right, private security companies and local law enforcement can much more effectively protect an area. The expertise and resources of the police department complement the boots on the ground that you can provide. It saves time for the police, better protects your customers, and helps you retain existing accounts and get referrals to grow your business.