Bright Lights, Big Security
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Jul 01, 2009
I don’t watch movie awards ceremonies, but I do
know what it means to roll out the red carpet. In the
case of the Academy Awards, security is at the edge
of the crimson runway.
Hollywood Boulevard isn’t quite packed with law
enforcement to keep the peace. Instead there is a group
of people who have enough law enforcement experience
in their background to satisfy the wary.
Andrews International, a full-service provider of
security and risk-mitigation services, has taken over the
Hollywood/Highland area of Los Angeles, protecting the
interests of business owners and tourists alike. Don’t get
me wrong—LAPD still has a major presence of about 40
officers in the area, but the 7 square miles that comprises
Hollywood/Highland is Andrews’ territory. The
Andrews team, for the most part, is made up of retired
officers from urban jurisdictions in the area, officers
who understand what it takes to secure an area frequented
by thousands of tourists.
“We’re very passionate about this part of town,” said
Bill Farrar, senior vice president of operations and business
development for Andrews International. “We’re not
here to replace the police department, but our duties are
simply to work with the community.”
The area has seen a major drop in crime, which is
largely due to the new community policing attitude in
which security officers work diligently with resources
such as outreach programs, homeless shelters, the
Chamber of Commerce, schools and LAPD.
For Andrews employees, it’s not so much about
enforcement as it is working hand-in-hand with anyone
who comes to the retail district.
“The Hollywood/Highland area brings an eclectic
mix of tourists, residents, entertainment and media folk,
and employees alike to our venue,” said Mike Harkins,
executive security director at the Hollywood and
Highland Center. “Every day brings new challenges with
protests, special events, Kodak shows and visiting dignitaries
from around the world.”
Security officers at Andrews have introduced a new
dimension to urban policing—or I should say, urban
security—to this once blighted area. They pursue an
aggressive enforcement strategy as a backup to their
outreach and problem-solving efforts.
“Our management style allows us to be proactive for
and with the client, while embracing the company philosophy,”
Harkins said. “This mixture allows our
employees to take ownership in the job they do for
Andrews, as well as the client.”
When Andrews International got the contract to supply
security services, it was a deployment of epic proportions.
Not too many law enforcement teams, much less security
details, are asked to secure places like the Kodak Theater,
Grauman’s Chinese Theater and blocks upon blocks of
other tourist hot spots.
Uniformed officers are easy to spot; some of them
patrol using T-3 electric vehicles from T3 Motion,
SUVs or bikes. The area also has deployed a generous
number of plain-clothes security officers, who also
patrol the four nightclubs in the area. Officers also
monitor the area with CCTVs, which are fed back to a
control center near the Kodak Theater. It’s all similar to
a city within a city, except the security office is merely
a holding area for officers to secure violators until
LAPD arrives to transport offenders to a city/county
lockup. Officials are already planning the installation
of nearly 200 digital cameras that will feed over the
network to the command center.
Among the glamour of Hollywood, there are certain
procedures that get top priority. Take for instance the
AcademyAwards. The fanfare of celebrities mixing with
security might seem like a headache. The stars of the silver
screen often have their own security detail, but amazingly,
it all comes off without a hitch. Andrews’ staff has
the overriding role of providing security.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say an actor’s bodyguard
wants to ensure his client gets the utmost protection. The
bodyguard surveys the premises with Andrews’ staff to
make sure they know what to do if a situation comes into
play. Andrews’ staff has full and complete ownership of
security throughout an awards ceremony. The only time
they would defer security operations would be to Secret
Service, but even then, their expertise is widely known
The theater helps with providing certain routines and
travel passages for award winners to follow on the way
to an interview.
Security in the Hollywood/Highland area gets top
billing. It’s apparent from the interaction between the
security staff and business owners—both are complimentary
of each other’s work.
“We are encouraged to innovate and to work hand-inhand
with every agency,” said Stephen Seyler, director of
security for the business improvement district.
“Hollywood is a special place, and it is very rewarding
to be part of its renaissance.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of Security Today.
Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.