by William F. Blake, CPP, CFE
Private investigation is a reactive tool for solving the problems of the business client, while security consulting is proactive in assisting the business owner in preventing situations that can be financially and personally costly. When this type of matter is first suggested, the private investigator often asks, “What’s in it for me?”
Across the United States, the billable hour rate for the private investigator is approximately 50% of that of the security consultant. A frequently asked question is how do I convince clients to work at preventing problems?
What Is In It For the Private Investigator?
Many private investigators will say they do not have the skills to be a security consultant. If the private investigator has the skills to reactively investigate a problem or situation, he has the skills to develop a program to prevent further such situations. A private investigator with a viable networking scheme will know knowledgeable individuals from whom he can request assistance.
What Is In It For the Business Owner?
The business owner is legally obligated to provide a safe environment for individuals on their property and have reasonable knowledge of the business’s risks and threats. If an individual suffers an injury due to the lack of appropriate safety and security measures, they may make a negligent security claim against the owner under the various premise’s liability laws of the state.
If the business owner is found at fault, the average litigation judgment averages about $600,000, not including attorney’s fees and other expenses. This cost does not include the reputational costs to the business as an unsafe business location and the personal damage to the owner’s reputation for having a dangerous business location.
How Should the PI Approach?
The most significant initial action is to assess the internal and external risks and threats to the business. It is the basis for cost-effective, reasonable, and appropriate action to counter threats and risks. In the case of a negligent security claim, the risk assessment is a primary component in defending the claim as it demonstrates that a professional security consultant conducted a comprehensive assessment to identify appropriate countermeasures.
The risk assessment should be conducted by a third-party security consultant. Some security equipment vendors offer risk assessment services as an additional business service but do not have the necessary general experience and knowledge. A comprehensive assessment is best documented with the use of a checklist that records the specific assessment information and actions. The checklist will identify threats and risks to the company. The author uses a 319-item checklist available upon request email@example.com which can be revised to include sections unique to each business, like industry standards.
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Additional Advantages Derived from a Risk Assessment
There are additional advantages that can be derived from conducting a comprehensive risk assessment.
• The business owner recognizes and controls hazards in the workplace.
• It creates awareness among employees and can be used as a training tool.
• It allows business management to set appropriate risk management standards, based on acceptable safe practices and legal requirements.
• The assessment will assist in reducing incidents in the workplace.
• It saves costs by being proactive instead of reactive.
What are the Components of a Comprehensive Risk Assessment?
A comprehensive risk assessment consists of the following areas:
• Facility information: This section identifies the individual characteristic of the facility to provide a basic understanding of what needs to be protected, as each facility is different.
• Demographic information: The business types and individuals populating the area influence the security precautions and their risks and threats. • Security operations: Business safety and security operations are the most influential portion of the assessment. There is no one-size-fits-all scheme for protecting a business, as each business has different characteristics, risks, and threats.
• Perimeter control: Security protection originates at the outermost edges of the facility property and increases as it moves forward in a series of concentric circles of protection.
• Parking control: The parking lot or parking structure presents a significant security risk for the facility. An additional risk is present when the parking area is shared with individuals not part of the business because of the problems encountered with security issues.
• Building security and access control: Any access control system must be implemented that meets the needs of staff members, vendors, and visitors. Each access control system must be based on a personal government issued photographic requirement.
• Fire safety: Fire prevention should be a primary concern and preventive and responsive strategies should be known to all personnel. Fire prevention training should be required of all employees, regardless of position or status.
• Physical asset protection: A vital component of any physical asset program is protecting company property, whether physical assets within the building or assets stored in external areas. Each business should have a physical inventory program identifying property above a minimum replacement dollar value.
• Information security: A formal information security program should be developed by a knowledgeable information security specialist that applies to all components of the company’s information security structure
• Personal safety and security awareness: A formal personal safety and security awareness program should be implemented. Upon initial employment and at periodic intervals, refresher training should be required as the most important company asset is its employees.
Private investigators have an easy and incredible opportunity to grow their business—but it still takes work. However, that work is greatly outweighed by the benefits. From saving cost, to preventing accidents, private investigators should heavily consider the benefits of becoming a security consultant. In today’s tumultuous environment, more business owners are in need of security consultants, and your experience as a private investigator will definitely be considered a plus. Security Consulting is just one of many ways to build a better business.
About the Author
William F. Blake is a graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Police Administration. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Foundations of Education from Troy State University and is a retired Chief Warrant Office of the U.S. Army. He has over 60 years of experience in civil and criminal investigations, bank security, executive protection, loss prevention, disaster recovery planning, counterintelligence operations, security risk analysis, and security training.
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