DSI Security News Feed

After Orlando: What Kind of Security Program Do I Need? by Eddie Sorrells, CPP, PSP, CHS IV

In the early morning hours of Sunday June 12th, events were unfolding in Orlando, FL that would once again shine the national spotlight on the need for increased security in and around what is commonly referred to as “soft targets,” a person or thing that is relatively unprotected or vulnerable, especially to a terrorist attack. Forty nine people lost their lives, and countless others were wounded during a shooting rampage that was carried out by a man who was intent on making a murderous statement on behalf of his beliefs. Just a day earlier, a popular singer was also gunned down in Orlando at an autograph signing after a concert. While the investigations into these tragedies are on-going, the call for immediate action was swift.

These types of incidents typically result in a national outcry for more to be done by our government to protect us, and always prompt more discussion around the issue of intelligence gatherings, gun control, and how we as a nation must fight terrorism more effectively. These are all very important topics that must be examined, but for the business owner who is trying to absorb the potential impact of such events, more practical matters take priority over political debates.

Over the past week, media outlets have asked the following question: “What security measures need to be present to guard against these types of incidents?” Unfortunately there is no short, easy answer that would apply to every situation. I recently spoke with a reporter from a major newspaper who asked the following question: “Mr. Sorrells, please give me an estimate of how much it would cost a business to provide the security necessary to prevent the type of attack we witnessed in Orlando?” While I can’t fault the questioner for asking such an obvious question that is on the minds of many after a horrible tragedy, it is of course one that has no stock answer. The real answer is: It depends.

At the beginning of a security service relationship some normal ground rules have to be established. These can include things such as operating procedures, uniform styles, and equipment needs, but one of the most overlooked elements of beginning the security relationship is actually designing the security plan and procedures. This may seem to be a simple task, but there are many hidden areas that can cause significant issues for service providers and customers alike. An effective Security Service should start out with a basic risk assessment being offered, and hopefully ultimately performed. Each customer and individual property present unique and different environments for potential security operations, but some common elements can be used in the risk assessment process. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to risk assessments. I will not commence a risk assessment until I have had a chance to speak in detail with the organization I am assessing. While there are standard assets inherent in any business, there will also be unique aspects depending on the environment. People and property are going to be a standard asset at every location. Every organization has a vested interest in keeping its employees and visitors safe, and depending on the nature of the business, more or less assets could be present. Personality of the business, its standing in the community, and the reputation of the organization are often overlooked assets. Without knowing what is important to the customer, it is nearly impossible to know what their security needs are. For example, in healthcare settings patient satisfaction is key. While this does not negate the need for effective access control and other security measures, without taking this philosophy into consideration some recommendations may make sense in the security context, but are impracticable because they don’t line up with the organization’s overall mission of serving the needs of patients and families.

A retail customer once asked me to speak to a gathering of local business owners at a shopping mall. It was just prior to the Christmas holidays and I had gone over a few helpful hints on how to recognize shoplifters and how to be aware of suspicious behaviors. At the conclusion of my presentation, one of the business owners asked why could we not just “keep all of the bad people out of the mall,” thereby ensuring no theft or other negative incidents would happen. Sounds simple enough, right?

The obvious flaw in his question was that he was proposing to do the exact opposite of what he is in the business of encouraging: having people enter his business. I responded that this task was difficult to achieve since there is no real formula or common sense criteria that could be employed to keep certain people out, unless they had a history with the mall or the security officers were trained in behavioral recognition, and the “bad” people showed warning signs that would indicate intent to commit crimes. The real point was that effectively shutting down access would have potentially very negative consequences for the shopping mall in general and the businesses located within it specifically. Some properties may have the luxury of having very tight access control, while some depend on a free-flowing stream of customer traffic to survive. I have also been asked a variation of this question when conducting training for churches, casinos, and even restaurants. While the concern may be genuine, it is often up to the security practitioner to point out to the customer that there must be a balance of security and commerce, with both goals hopefully being ultimately achieved. I do believe that this balance is shifting as we are willing to accept more security in exchange for safety, but this consideration must not be overlooked.

Just as the personality, philosophy, and mission of the organization must be clearly understood, the financial limitations must also be taken into account. Let me be clear: I have never hesitated to recommend a reasonable and necessary security measure to a customer because of some perceived lack of resources. But the keywords are reasonable and necessary. As with any profession, there is sometimes a tendency to overstate the importance of a potential service or a solution to an identified problem. I have always found it quite interesting how some organizations can go from one extreme to the other in the wake of a serious incident. Even more perplexing is how the same organization will eventually revert back to the same, or in some cases even less, security measures than they had prior to the incident. Obviously, increased attention is warranted in the wake of a security-related tragedy such as a high profile shooting or a major breach, but sometimes measures are offered up and implemented with the hopes of being permanent, only to be eliminated when the memory of the incident fades. Sometimes as security practitioners we are tempted to start with offering the most costly and involved recommendations possible. The rationale is rooted in logic. The thought process usually follows that if the tightest security possible is employed, then most security risks are eliminated. But the stark reality is that security budgets are finite and have to be managed in a real-world business environment.

The bottom line is that each organization must develop a security plan based on the unique risks faced by that property. Unfortunately, we will continue to find opportunities to reexamine the need to continually assess these evolving risks in in the current culture of global terror. DSI Security Services knows that the threat is not going away, so we must meet it head on and design plans that best protect our customer’s assets.

Eddie Sorrells is a CPP (Certified Protection Professional), PSP (Physical Security Professional) and CHS IV (Certified in Homeland Security), and is also a licensed attorney in the State of Alabama and serves on many boards and committees within the security industry. Mr. Sorrells has been a valuable part of the DSI team for over 25 years.
20085029_mass_shootings_by_the_numbers_live_xtalk_01_95a1205772079fedd76bfb3c3d7b6e99.today-inline-large

Take your security program to the next level!

Eddie and ASIS CEODSI’s COO, Eddie Sorrells, holds many security certifications including CPP (Certified Protection Professional), PSP (Physical Security Professional) and CHS IV (Certified in Homeland Security), and is also a licensed attorney in the State of Alabama and serves on many boards and committees within the security industry. Eddie is currently the Chairman of the Security Services Council with ASIS, American Society for Industrial Security, and is part of the faculty for the upcoming ASIS Workshop:

Security Force Management Conference
May 18 – 19, 2016
The Westin Las Vegas Hotel
Las Vegas, NV, UNITED STATES

Whether you’re new to a security leadership position, striving to increase your management responsibility, or have 20 years experience as a security manager, your ability to manage a modern security force depends on your understanding of the law, management practices, technology, and best practices and procedures.

Click on this link if you are interested in learning how to :

    • Equip your security program to navigate the changing landscape.
    • Add cost-effective practices to your professional arsenal.
    • Learn new financial and marketing strategies to improve performance.
    • Gain information to assist in ensuring your safety, security, and compliance with legal requirements.
    • Understand the impact of current trends and recent issues

This program delivers a comprehensive update on these core management requirements and demonstrates a great security program from an average one.

Go here for more information.

NEW BOOK RELEASE! Security Litigation Best Practices for Managing and Preventing Security-Related Lawsuits

DSI is pleased to announce the recently released book by DSI Security Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, Eddie Sorrells.  Mr. Sorrells new book, Security Litigation:  Best Practices for Managing and Preventing Security-Related Lawsuits, is now available to order from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and all major book retailers.  Mr. Sorrells holds many security certifications including CPP (Certified Protection Professional), PSP (Physical Security Professional) and CHS IV (Certified in Homeland Security), and is also a licensed attorney in the State of Alabama and serves on many boards and committees within the security industry.  Mr. Sorrells has been a valuable part of the DSI team for almost 25 years.

Security Litigation

 

This book provides a practical guide on how to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit due to security-related incidents, written by a security professional and attorney.

KEY FEATURES

  • Presents practical guidelines for security professionals involved in the prevention of security-related lawsuits
  • Demonstrates how to address real world problems not always found in case law or rules of evidence
  • Provides a much needed resource to help security professionals successfully navigate the unique nature of security-related lawsuits

 

*Available now from all major book retailers*

 

ASIS International Appoints New Chairman of the Security Services Council

ASISINTERNATIONAL

eddieasis

Eddie Sorrells. CPP, PSP has been named incoming Chairman of the ASIS International Security Services Council. The Security Services Council serves as the leading resource for education, outreach, and best practices for all services—security officers, alarm monitoring, investigations, security design and implementation, and other contracted services in support of a security program.  ASIS International (ASIS), is the preeminent organization for security professionals with 38,000 members in 125 different countries. The Security Services council has representation from all regions in the United States, as well as several International Members.  The council conducts educational workshops and webinars each year, and participates in industry associations and partnerships.  Eddie has most recently served as Vice Chairman of the council and will officially begin leading the council in January 2016.

Eddie serves as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for DSI Security Services located in Dothan, Alabama. DSI is a leading security provider in the Southeast United States with over 3000 employees in 25 different states. Eddie is a published author in industry publications such as Security Management Magazine, and will release his first book entitled Security Litigation Best Practices for Managing and Preventing Security-Related Lawsuits (Published by Butterworth-Heinemann) in October 2015.

DSI attends the 61st Annual ASIS International Convention

The week of September 28th-October 1st several members of the DSI team attended the 61st Annual ASIS International Convention held in Anaheim, California. “ASIS International is a global community of security practitioners, each of whom has a role in the protection of assets – people, property, and/or information. Members represent virtually every industry in the public and private sectors, and organizations of all sizes. ” This was DSI’s 35th year to attend and exhibit at the ASIS International Convention. ASIS2015
(Pictured left to right: Eddie Sorrells-COO/General Counsel, Boyd Clark-Corporate Director of Marketing and Sales, Mary Neal Clark-Client Representative, Marty Clark-President, & Alan Clark-Chairman of the Board)

Manufacture Alabama 2015 Annual Fall Meeting

The week of September 23rd-25th DSI President Marty Clark(pictured left) along with Client Representative Mary Neal Clark(pictured right) attended the 2015 Manufacture Alabama Annual Fall Meeting held in Point Clear, Alabama. During the conference we were given the opportunity to hear from Alabama Governor Robert Bentley about future economic development within the state. The Fall Meeting is also a time for our DSI team to meet with manufacturing companies throughout Alabama. DSI takes great pride in being an active partner in the Manufacture Alabama Group. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve manufacturers in the State of Alabama. manufacturealabama

DSI Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel Eddie Sorrells featured in the Wall Street Journal

eddiewallstreetjournal

 

 

 

 

 

POLITICS AND POLICY

Decades long Arrest Wave Vexes Employers

Companies Struggle to Navigate Patchwork of Rules That Either Encourage or Deter Hiring Americans With Criminal Records

Eddie Sorrells, chief operating officer at DSI Security Services, a provider of security guards. Mr. Sorrells says a felon couldn’t get licensed as a security guard in most states where DSI operates. WES FRAZER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

By JOHN R. EMSHWILLER and GARY FIELDS

Dec. 12, 2014 9:34 p.m. ET

Eddie Sorrells is evaluating job applicants he knows he can’t hire.

The chief operating officer of DSI Security Services, a provider of security guards, is checking out potential employees with felony or certain misdemeanor convictions even though they wouldn’t get licensed in many of the 23 states where the firm operates.

Driving the company in that direction are government officials in Washington and elsewhere who want to give people with rap sheets a better shot at a job. Mr. Sorrells figures the reviews take up hundreds of hours of staff time a year.

“It defies common sense,” said Mr. Sorrells, who is general counsel as well as COO of the Dothan, Ala., family-owned company.

Three decades of tougher laws and policing have left nearly one in three adult Americans with a criminal record, according to data kept by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That arrest wave is washing up on the desks of America’s employers.

Companies seeking new employees are forced to navigate a patchwork of state and federal laws that either encourage or deter hiring people with criminal pasts and doing the checks that reveal them. Employers are having to make judgments about who is rehabilitated and who isn’t. And whichever decision they make, they face increasing possibilities for ending up in court.

Employers are in this position because there are nearly 80 million Americans with criminal records, including arrests that didn’t lead to a conviction, at a time when the Internet and computerized databases make such information easier than ever to obtain. Ignoring the records can leave a company vulnerable to making bad hiring decisions and to lawsuits. But using them can raise the ire of government officials and lead to charges of discrimination.

Scott Fallavollita, the owner of United Tool & Machine Corp. in Wilmington, Mass., said his first priority is keeping his 25-employee workplace safe. At the same time, he has hired individuals with criminal records who were good workers. “I think most people can see both sides and really want to do the right thing,” he said.

The number of companies running criminal background checks has increased steeply in recent decades, said Michael Stoll, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied the topic. In the early 1990s, he said, fewer than 50% of employers used background checks.

But 87% of employers were doing them on some or all job applicants in 2012, a survey that year by the Society for Human Resource Management showed. The figure was 92% in 2010, according to the professional group.

Michael Aitken, its vice president of government affairs, said the recent decline could stem from the complex legal landscape. “Some employers might say it isn’t worth walking into that minefield,” he said, even though “a bad hire can have consequences for the company, its employees and its customers if that person commits another crime.”

Much of the nervousness traces to a 2012 document from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It recommended that employers not ask about criminal records on initial application forms. Before rejecting someone because of a criminal record, it said, the employer should examine such things as when a conviction occurred, whether the crime was related to the job in question and what rehabilitation efforts the individual had made.

Though not a law, the document, called an enforcement guidance, has teeth. It is the EEOC’s position on what the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s employment-discrimination section, Title VII, requires of employers.

It revises guidance from the 1980s. An update was needed, said EEOC Chairwoman Jenny Yang, because “more Americans have criminal records than they did [and] the Internet makes access to criminal records more available.”

‘Would I say that anyone with a felony record doesn’t deserve a job? Of course not. Just not a job in the security business.’

—Eddie Sorrells, chief operating officer of DSI Security Services

In addition, 13 states and nearly 70 local jurisdictions have passed laws restricting employer requests for criminal records early in the hiring process, according to the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit research and advocacy group. Some of these “ban-the-box” laws—referring to a check-off box on forms—don’t allow asking until a conditional job offer has been made.

The restrictions help those with rap sheets at least get a foot in the door. Yet companies remain within their rights to check criminal records at some point. The EEOC says there are instances where a criminal record is a valid reason to turn down a job applicant.

Washington, D.C., has a ban-the-box law. “You have people right now to the tune of 8,000 residents per year coming home to the District of Columbia from incarceration,” said Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, a Democrat. If they can’t find jobs, he said, crime rates go up, along with social-service and law-enforcement costs.

Race is a factor. Some minority groups, particularly black males, have higher arrest and conviction rates than whites, putting companies at risk of getting crosswise with the federal government’s antidiscrimination rules.

Under federal law, a decision that appears race-neutral, such as asking about criminal records in hiring, can run into legal problems if its effect is to disproportionately harm a particular racial or ethnic group.

A 2009 study of 250 entry-level job openings in New York City found an applicant’s likelihood of getting a callback or job offer fell by nearly 50% with a criminal record. Black applicants with records fared far worse than similarly situated white applicants in the study, done by researchers at Princeton and Harvard universities.

Critics of delaying a criminal-record question say this can just postpone the inevitable. “If it is a disqualifying offense, you’ve just wasted both the candidate’s and the employer’s time,” said Nick Fishman, executive vice president of EmployeeScreenIQ, a background-screening firm in Cleveland.

Grocery-store chain Aldi Inc., which operates in 32 states with varying laws, dropped the question from applications, said Thomas Behtz, a vice president. The Batavia, Ill., firm now asks about criminal history only after making a conditional job offer, then gives the applicant a questionnaire tailored to what can be asked in the state at issue.

“I wouldn’t say we feel handcuffed. But things are very, very defined,” Mr. Behtz said.

DSI, the security-guard firm whose Mr. Sorrells is evaluating some applicants he can’t hire, uses a criminal-background question on application forms in states where this is permitted and not elsewhere.

The firm doesn’t automatically exclude applicants who admit to being felons, instead proceeding to look at whether they meet other hiring criteria, such as willingness to work the hours and locations available. If so, it does an individualized assessment of the criminal record.

Only then, Mr. Sorrells said, does the company reject the applicant. A felon couldn’t get licensed as a security guard in most states where DSI operates, Mr. Sorrells said. Even where they could, the company—though it has hired people with minor misdemeanors—won’t employ felons.

The reason is “liability concerns and what we believe is our obligation to put the most qualified and well-suited officer at the client’s property,” he said.

“Would I say that anyone with a felony record doesn’t deserve a job? Of course not,” said Mr. Sorrells. “Just not a job in the security business.”

In its policing efforts, the EEOC has launched 100 investigations and a series of enforcement cases. It has reached settlements in the past year with six companies over alleged misuse of criminal history, the agency said in a report.The EEOC settled with a PepsiCo Inc. unit in 2012 over allegedly discriminatory treatment of black applicants with criminal histories. Pepsi Beverages agreed to pay $3.1 million and possibly offer positions to some applicants. In a written statement, Pepsi said there wasn’t any finding of intentional discrimination, and it has worked with the EEOC to revise its hiring policy.

Retailer Dollar General Corp. and a U.S. unit of BMW AG are currently being sued by the EEOC. Both denied wrongdoing.

G4S Secure Solutions (U.S.A.) Inc., a Jupiter, Fla., supplier of security services, said it spent several hundred thousand dollars responding to information requests from the agency during a nearly three-year probe stemming from a complaint filed by a black applicant rejected for a security-guard job. G4S said he was turned down because of two theft convictions.

Once the EEOC starts looking into a company, “the burden is almost unending on the employer until it meets whatever expectation” for information the commission has, said Geoff Gerks, senior vice president at G4S. The probe ended with no charges by the EEOC, and G4S reached settlements with two individuals, he said.

The EEOC said it doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of particular investigations or comment on pending litigation.

A judge last year dismissed an EEOC suit accusing a Dallas events-marketing firm, Freeman Co., of a pattern of discrimination based partly on its use of criminal-background information. Judge Roger W. Titus, in dismissing the suit in federal court in Greenbelt, Md., said the agency was asking companies to ignore “criminal history and credit background, thus exposing themselves to potential liability for criminal and fraudulent acts committed by employees, on the one hand, or incurring the wrath of the EEOC.”

The EEOC has appealed. Freeman declined to comment.

While the federal government and some states have been moving to help people with criminal records catch a break, others have challenged the EEOC’s campaign or have toughened background-check requirements.

Texas sued the EEOC in federal court in Lubbock seeking to set aside the 2012 enforcement guidance, which the state’s complaint called the “felon-hiring rule.” The court said Texas didn’t have standing to challenge the rule, a decision the state is appealing.

Iowa recently expanded a background-check requirement for home-based child-care providers to include checks against the FBI’s criminal-records system, not just Iowa criminal records.

Ohio in 2007 passed a law barring people convicted of certain crimes from working in public schools. The Cincinnati system discharged 10 employees, nine of them black. Two of the nine filed a suit in Cincinnati federal court, which is still pending, alleging racial discrimination.

One plaintiff, Eartha Britton, 60 years old, was an instructional assistant and 18-year veteran. Her crime: a 1983 conviction for being a go-between in the sale of $5 worth of marijuana, a conviction that was later expunged, the suit said. Through her attorney, she declined to be interviewed.

The Cincinnati school district said in a court filing that public and private employers shouldn’t be in the position of second-guessing state law.

Even businesses that don’t hire can get entangled in the issue. Care.com Inc. is an online service that helps customers find caregivers. Though the caregivers aren’t its employees, the Waltham, Mass., firm faces a suit over the background of one.

Clients Nathan and Reggan Koopmeiners say in the civil suit they paid the firm for its highest level of background check, yet it didn’t tell them that a woman they hired had a “history of alcohol abuse and violence.” Under the influence of alcohol, she negligently struck or slammed the head of their infant daughter, killing her, said the suit, filed in Wisconsin state court in July and later transferred to Milwaukee federal court. The woman faces a murder charge, to which she has pleaded not guilty, said her attorney, who said she didn’t intend to harm the child.

Care.com said it screens caregivers based on information they provide, including searching a criminal database, but this is only a preliminary check and it offers three higher levels of checks at different prices. In a court filing, it said the Koopmeiners hadn’t purchased any of those, and it denied wrongdoing.

The varying impulses—to give job seekers a fair shot, to keep workplaces safe and to keep companies out of legal jeopardy—have left Paul O’Brien, president of engineering firm GHT Ltd. in Arlington, Va., struggling to chart a course.

He once hired a mechanical engineer with convictions for burglaries, figuring he had turned his life around, and it worked out fine. At the same time, some of GHT’s federal contracts require criminal-background checks of employees, Mr. O’Brien said. He is watching the growth of restrictions on such record checks.

“You gotta know what you’re getting into,” he said. Otherwise, “you bring somebody in and after he embezzles from you, then you find out he embezzled from his last boss, too?”

GHT’s job application still has a criminal-history question. Mr. O’Brien is thinking of dropping it. “I don’t want to get on the wrong side of the government,” he said.

Write to John R. Emshwiller at john.emshwiller@wsj.com and Gary Fields at gary.fields@wsj.com

Copyright Wall Street Journal