With Police Stretched to the Limit, Private Security Agencies Can Help Keep Businesses Safe

The slowdown in international travel as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the travel security industry. As a result, security firms are faced with the challenge of rethinking their growth strategies.

Meanwhile, historic levels of high unemployment, a looming recession, and the rise of social unrest have created an urgent need to enhance on-the-ground security as emergency response services become delayed or limited. In this atmosphere, corporations are placing a greater emphasis on the protection of their personnel, assets, and properties. This has created an opportunity for security firms looking to grow their business to pivot toward offering solutions that can address today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges.

Private Security Solutions
Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians are overwhelmed by the current state of events and lack the capacity to support every threat occurrence. Some cities in the United States are experiencing an increase in the number of emergency professionals taking sick leave.

In Chicago, for example, in March 6 percent of its police force was on sick leave due to the pandemic. New York City has seen a 411 percent increase in police retirement applications filed this year compared to 2019. In Atlanta, 170 officers called out sick after two were charged in the shooting death of an unarmed Black man.

In addition, cities across the United States are experiencing protests stemming from racial injustice, and calls to defund the police will be a central theme of the election in November. Emergency services are either manning the protests or taking a step back to lessen the tensions. This has left corporations’ properties and assets less secure than they’ve been in the past, and is the reason why security firms have an opportunity to fill the vacuum left behind by overstretched law enforcement and emergency services.

Incurring Considerable Loss
While corporations are incurring considerable loss as a result of looting and vandalism, the threat extends into cyberspace as well. According to a recent study by cloud computing company Iomart, large-scale breaches are on the rise, increasing 273 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same time last year. By late May, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center had received 320,000 complaints—nearly the same amount received for all of 2019. Nation states—Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea—and individual cyber criminals are the main perpetrators of such attacks.

Already struggling with an economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, corporations can ill afford more loss. They have a duty of care obligation to protect their assets and people. Some corporations have already taken steps to secure their businesses with alternative solutions. Global Guardian has seen a 250 percent increase in inquiries about camera surveillance, armed agents, and private investigator services solutions, compared to this same time last year. From conversations with my peers, I know this is a common experience across the industry, and there are no signs that it will slow anytime soon. 

Not only do private solutions ward off physical threats, like theft and arson that can be detrimental to business continuity, they also can be vital down the line. Security firms with highly trained staff—such as those retired from the Secret Service, military and Marshals Service—are able to deescalate situations and avoid the use of force, which can prevent lawsuits and civil suits being filed against corporations.  

Sharp political divisions, high and growing unemployment, and the stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic will ensure that the current crisis facing our nation will not blow over anytime soon. More and more people will commit criminal acts out of sheer desperation; we are already seeing this happen.

Security firms need to adapt their business models to address the emerging challenges corporations are facing. Alternative solutions are in demand now more than ever. With travel security being less commoditized, security firms should pivot toward this new opportunity as they rethink growth strategies and adapt their businesses to ensure longevity in these uncertain times.

Dale Buckner is the chief executive officer of Global Guardian. A 24-year U.S. Army veteran, he has extensive experience with intelligence, counterterrorism, and Special Operations.

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