Poll: Building security ‘lax’ in wake of Sept. 11
A poll of security officers shows that lax security procedures persist in U.S. buildings nine months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Research from three large states shows four in 10 private security officers report no new security procedures at their buildings since Sept. 11, and seven in 10 security officers report that bomb-threat drills or natural disaster drills are never conducted at their buildings.
“This research exposes what every security officer in America already knows: The buildings where we work remain tremendously vulnerable,” said Janet Boston, a former security officer at the World Trade Center. “Things won’t improve unless we raise standards, improve integration with police and fire departments and increase compensation.”
The polls were sponsored by the Service Employees International Union, Washington, the nation’s largest union of security officers, and Kroll, a New York-based private security consulting firm. Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Washington, conducted the poll.
Key findings Include:
Four in ten security officers say no new security procedures have been implemented at their buildings since Sept. 11, 2001.
Seven in 10 security officers report that bomb-threat drills or natural disaster drills are never conducted at their buildings.
One in five security officers have received no training from their employer.
Four in 10 security officers received no pre-hire training from their employer.
A majority of security officers received no training in evacuation or emergency response prior to being hired.
Experts estimate that security officers helped save thousands of lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, thanks to rigorous training, regular drilling and evacuation procedures implemented at the buildings after the attempted bombing in 1993.
“Thank God we had all been trained,” said Boston. “Thousands more could have died.”
In response to the findings, SEIU called for new cooperative efforts among security companies, building owners and security officers’ unions to raise industry standards.
“Even after Sept. 11, 2001, this industry continues to be driven by the bottom line. As long as security contracts continue to go to the lowest bidder, the safety of millions of tenants in this country will continue to be at risk,” said Jono Shaffer, director of SEIU Security Organizing. “We cannot afford to continue to ignore the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001. When it comes to providing quality security, ‘business as usual’ is unacceptable. We need to work together to raise standards for private security in this country.”
The chief operating officer of Kroll’s Security Services Group, Jeff Schlanger, emphasized the need to professionalize and stabilize the security workforce in order to improve the quality of security provided to building tenants and the public. Industry experts estimate that job turnover among private security officers is between 100% and 300% a year.
“It takes a professional, stable workforce to provide world-class security,” said Schlanger. “We can’t ensure safe buildings with poorly trained, poorly paid security personnel.”
In April and May 2002, Peter D. Hart Research Associates conducted polls among private security officers in California, Texas and Florida. These states were chosen because they represent contrasting levels of state regulations for the private security industry. Despite varying state requirements, the survey results consistently show a lack of training for security officers and lax security procedures at buildings in all three states and therefore point to some likely national trends. The research comprised telephone surveys among currently employed security officers. Some 400 interviews were conducted in each state, with field work conducted April 5 through 8 in California, May 6 through 8 in Texas, and May 13 through 15 in Florida. The margin of error for each state’s sample is + or – 5 percent.
SEIU is a union with 1.5 million members who work in building services (security officers and janitors), health care (hospitals, nursing homes, home care), and public services (state, county, and city employees). With 20,000 security officers, SEIU is the nation’s largest union of security officers.
Kroll specializes in investigative, intelligence and security services. With more than 55 offices worldwide, Kroll provides a broad spectrum of services to help clients reduce risks, resolve problems and capitalize on opportunities. Kroll’s Security Services Group provide clients with architectural security consulting and design, security and life safety consulting, crisis management programs, personal protection services, police and public safety consulting, environmental investigation and analysis, and travel and political risk information.