CS @ 40: Steps to Professionalism
By Roger Miller
Canadian Security is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018. We asked several security professionals to submit their thoughts on the industry and reflect on 40 years of change. In each issue of Canadian Security magazine, we will feature a new columnist. Second is Roger Miller, president of Northeastern Protection Service.
By Roger Miller
Looking back on our industry I can speak to more than 30 of the 40 years since the first issue of Canadian Security hit our desks. Granted, I may not have held up as well as the publication, but we’re both still around!
As a snapshot, security guards, managers, systems technicians (previously called alarm installers) and our clients all lived in distinctly different worlds, they didn’t communicate outside their silo. Training in each of the disciplines was minimal if at all. Security managers were almost always ex- law enforcement members.
Guarding and technology rarely co-existed on any formal level. Guard level interaction with technology was limited to watching cameras or responding to alarms then calling the police.
Skip forward just a few years and the industry had started to evolve, slowly. In the late 80’s and into the early 90’s the lines of communication started to open. Clients using guard service and security technology were sharing their objectives so we could help their planning process.
Along with this, developing industry governments were opening up legislation from the 1960’s for discussion on how the industry could be improved to enhance public safety. Oh, and we started talking about public safety!
As we neared the end of the last millennium, the Y2K worries focused attention on security systems vulnerabilities. People became engaged in all things electronic: What are the risks? Where is the redundancy? Who has the skills? It was an interesting time that I believe unintentionally stimulated activity in our industry throughout all disciplines. It taught us that technology must be supported by manpower and vice versa.
On New Year’s Eve, as we entered 2000, I was the Atlantic VP of an international firm. Being the first time zone in Canada to reach the stroke of midnight, we were all “on call” until the passing of midnight when we had to call into the national communications centre (on a landline) and let them know everything in our region was still working as it should. It was a time when clients really looked to our industry to support their operations in a sincere way, and we were eager to do it.
In recent times, the Canadian Security Association (CANASA) has taken over as a leading Canadian voice for our industry.
While the focus of the association has traditionally been on electronic security, there is change happening where members’ job titles are more diverse, which ultimately benefits all stakeholders. Only a few years ago, when the RCMP in Nova Scotia was drafting an alarm response policy they turned to our association for stewardship. The RCMP, the central monitoring stations, the installing companies, private responders and the end users were all finally on the same page. Maybe not everyone was equally pleased with the outcome, but the opportunity for engaged dialogue existed.
In 2018 we have a fully integrated industry where we work with clients to develop a product or service that is tailored to their needs.
Guards are using the technology that their counterparts are installing on networks managed by the IT department; sometimes they are all working for the same company. Managers are business and security industry savvy. Training, while still lacking in many areas, is at an all-time high. Justice and Public Safety officials are providing professional oversight to ensure there is regulatory compliance where applicable. Security planning is talked about in the corporate boardrooms. Accountability exists!
Today we still have bridges we need to build, then cross. Professional standards for guards, service and installation technicians, managers and consultants have a lot of room for improvement.
We are better and stronger than ever — this evolutionary process means we will always be a work in progress.
Roger Miller is the president of Northeastern Protection Service (www.protectionpartner.ca) and an advisory board member on Canadian Security’s sister magazine, SP&T News.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Canadian Security.