Preparing A Security Plan for Your Class A Building: The Complete Guide
While no one likes to think about it, the statistical reality is that any Class A Building, given the prestigiousness of its tenant companies and its higher building populations, will experience security incidents. The more people who occupy the building, the greater the probability of a significant event. As with any type of emergency situation, failing to plan means planning to fail.
Potential building lessees want to operate out of a secure location, and it is your obligation as an owner to help keep the businesses that occupy your commercial building secure. Many building owners skimp on security because it is an additional expense, but given the higher leases that businesses pay for an upscale location, tenants expect proper security measures to be in place. That’s why it’s so important to prepare a robust security plan for your Class A building.
Preparing A Security Plan Step One: Analyze Risk
When developing a security plan for your Class A building, there are myriad vulnerabilities and potential threats to consider. It’s important to assess risk by asking questions like:
- How attractive is the building as a target as a whole?
- Are there any tenants that might be especially attractive as targets?
- What would be the direct impacts of a specific incident?
- What would be the indirect impacts of a specific incident?
- What is the probability of each potential security incident?
As you think about these risks, this is the time to go full worst-case scenario. Your building security plan should ultimately cover everything from minor incidents to the unimaginable.
Once you’ve identified all potential risks, you will want to benchmark your building, ideally against similar buildings of the same size and location. Benchmarking is especially important when delivering your plan to other stakeholders and requesting budget dollars that go above and beyond current allocations. Benchmarking can be a useful tool when you need to validate that risks – even worst-case risks – are real.
Preparing A Security Plan Step Two: Security Measures
Your next step in creating a security plan for your Class A building is to develop the controls you will put in place to prevent the potential security breaches or incidents you identified in step one. Securing the physical building requires attention in three areas: operations, architecture, and technology.
Consider these elements three legs of a stool. Without all three legs, the stool can’t stand. And without complete balance between all three legs, the stool also can’t stand. A balanced building security program pays equal attention and delivers equally appropriate resources to all three areas.
When preparing your building security plan, it helps to take an outside-in approach. This method can help you identify potential gaps in security.
Depending on the nature of the crime that an aggressor wants to commit, daylight is often not optimal for criminal activity. It is necessary to examine all outdoor lighting to ensure the building is illuminated in a way that allows people driving or walking by to see doors and other potential entry points.
No one wants their Class A building to look like a prison, so think about ways to create soft barriers like landscaping as well as some hard barriers. Barriers create exclusionary zones where an intruder would be deterred from entering and/or more likely to be identified.
Criminals may also attempt to access the building by picking or destroying latches and locks. Even if you have high-tech doors and windows, latches and locks on areas like delivery bays and garages can be vulnerable. All latch and lock hardware should be updated and secured with concealed hinges, latch cover plates, etc.
While darkness provides cover for potential criminals, never underestimate the potential for daylight crime. Often, criminals leverage daylight to case buildings and assess vulnerabilities. And in some cases, they complete the act during the day if building security is lax. Have policies in place for all emergency exits as well as delivery bays and any other potential entry points. You don’t want doors propped open for people to sneak in and out. Front doors should be locked and secured with either code or key card entry, and every entrant should have to pass by a security desk before proceeding to their destination.
Security cameras are extremely important for Class A buildings. Those cameras should be positioned to cover all areas of ingress and egress, including windows and hatches. They should also be positioned to cover all hallways, stairwells, elevators, and other common areas of the building that are not leased by tenants.
More importantly, security footage should not be overridden. In the days of analog tape, it was common practice for buildings to reuse the same security tapes over and over, saving them for only one week or, in some cases, only one day. It is entirely possible that a security breach isn’t uncovered for some time, and you’ll need to be able to review your footage. This is also helpful to law enforcement officers who may need your footage to track the movements of someone who goes missing or someone accused of crimes outside of your building.
The very first security alarm system was patented way back in 1853. We’ve come a long way since then, but technology can always be defeated, either by hacking or physical means. And one of the biggest vulnerabilities of security alarm systems is false alarms.
False alarms desensitize the people in a building. Consider car alarms. Most people barely blink when they hear a car alarm these days because alarms go off all the time when someone approaches too closely, touches a car accidentally, or even attempts to open their own car door without unlocking it. We’ve become so accustomed to it, that rarely does anyone respond when they hear one.
Building security systems are not immune to false alarms and similar desensitization to those false alarms. Whether someone accidentally opens an armed door or window or the system malfunctions, people can quickly become desensitized to the sound of a building alarm.
Technology is an integral part of any Class A building security plan, but it must be proven. Hopping onto the latest trend can often be a mistake, as it could be more prone to malfunctions. Security alarm systems and security cameras must also be regularly maintained. It’s easy to skip maintenance in an effort to save money but failing to maintain the system can lead to a security issue.
And finally, a building cannot rely on technology alone. It must be supported by physical security officers who are tasked with responding to every single alarm, even if they have reason to believe it is a false alarm.
Operational security is arguably the most important piece of any Class A building security plan, and it is typically the most effective. Having well-trained security officers on staff can mean the difference between a safe building and a security catastrophe.
Having the right security officers in place is only one piece of the puzzle – and it is an important one that we will examine further, but it is also important to have a robust set of policies, procedures, and guidance in place for those security officers to follow and adhere to.
Commercial building tenants and their employees tend to be lax when it comes to following security protocols because they seem like a hindrance. Being asked to swipe a card to open a door or sign in and out is an inconvenience. People are also naturally vulnerable to the old, “would you hold the door open for me” trick that many criminals use to gain entry into a “secure” building.
That’s why it is so very important to develop a set of protocols and rules that are non-negotiable and to have security officers in place who are invested in maintaining those protocols at all times.
On-Premise Security Officers or Remote Surveillance Teams?
Remote surveillance is a popular commercial building security option, and it’s an option that often replaces human security teams. However, not all systems or providers are equal.
One of the biggest advantages to having on-premise security officers and guards is their ability to respond quickly to emergencies or security incidents at your commercial building. While remote monitoring security guards can alert authorities immediately, people on site can physically move to an area to diffuse or stop an incident in moments. Criminals know this, and the mere presence of well-trained security officers can be a deterrent.
On-site security officers also help build trust among building occupants. Employees in the building get to know the guards and officers over time and vice versa. This allows the security officers to quickly assess whether a particular person or situation falls within the norms of the building and address potential threats and incidents immediately.
However, human security officers cannot be everywhere at once, while a remote monitoring system can be everywhere, including outdoors in severe weather, in and around hazardous materials, high-crime areas, or difficult to reach locations.
Remote systems are also attractive because they can control costs, but the best course of action is to combine remote security monitoring and on-site security personnel. Keep security officers and guards on-site during daylight hours and let remote monitoring cover less populated hours and areas like parking lots or garages. Remote teams can work in tandem with on-site guards as well, alerting them to incidents or observations that require in-person responses or further investigation. With services such as BOS Security’s VirtuGuard™ remote guarding services, you can enhance your on-site security plan with remote security monitoring.
Preparing A Security Plan Step Three: Incident Response Plans
Once you’ve identified and benchmarked risk and developed necessary security measures using an outside-in approach, you will need to put together your security plan for your commercial building.
This plan should outline each measure of control and an accurate budget for that control. It should also include risk factors and should connect security measures to the mitigation of that risk. Finally, it should include a copy of your formal policies, procedures, and incident response plans.
A robust security playbook that includes your budget can help attract new tenants that are looking to relocate their offices to a secure location. This is also important to keep tenants bought into all of your security protocols. Consider your full playbook a living document that you will have to revisit and update regularly, especially in the event of an incident.
Incident response plans should be robust outlines of every step that needs to be taken in the event of a security incident. Security incidents can include (but are not limited to) injuries, accidents, threats of violence, actual violence, security breaches, and cybersecurity breaches.
Every security incident category should have its own plan. Plans should include everything from how to identify an incident to the immediate steps that should be taken in the moment, and the proper follow up and reporting procedures to local officials when necessary.
Hiring Security Officers And Guards For Your Commercial Building
The people you hire as security guards and officers for your business requires serious thought. You can hire your own, or you can contract from an expert third-party commercial building security service. Hiring guards yourself is attractive because it keeps everything in-house, but this path comes with serious risk. Do you know how to vet and verify security personnel? Do you know how to properly train security professionals?
Partnering with a security firm can often be the best course of action for commercial building owners. First, it helps reduce your legal exposure. If an inexperienced guard does the unimaginable and accidentally shoots the wrong person, you are legally responsible for their actions. Even so much as asking the wrong person to leave the building can expose you to legal trouble. Working with a security firm helps protect you from that liability. They will have the proper insurances in place and will assume responsibility for the actions of their security personnel.
Working with a security firm also ensures consistent training. Security professionals must continually train on best practices and proper procedures, and security firms provide this for their personnel, keeping them sharper and more effective.
A security firm also ensures you won’t ever be down a security officer. If someone falls ill, the firm can send a trained professional to fill in. If an officer quits, the firm can replace them immediately with another security guard of the same caliber. They can also help you staff up quickly if there is a potential threat or if unexpected circumstances require additional help for a few days, weeks, or months.
Finally, a security firm can help you put together the right team for your needs. They will assess your current situation and develop a plan detailing their recommended number of personnel and the specific responsibilities for each role. All of these guards are trained to work well as a team, meaning you get the best from day one.
Are You Ready To Develop A Security Plan for Your Class A Building?
If you are ready to develop a security plan for your commercial building, or if you have a plan and are looking for on-site security staff and/or remote security monitoring, contact BOS Security today at 404-793-6965.
Not sure where you may need security most? Our free Security Needs Assessment is designed to help you identify weak points to create better security plans. We look forward to helping you protect your building and its occupants.