Sharing Information with Other Security and Safety Professionals
It is important that a security officer communicate effectively both within his own company and with other safety and security organizations. This section covers some background information about the importance of information sharing and communication.
Communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another; it involves a sender transmitting an idea, information, or feeling to a receiver. Effective communication occurs only if the receiver understands the exact information or idea that the sender intended to transmit. Many of the problems that occur in an organization are:
the direct result of people failing to communicate
processes that leads to confusion and can cause good plans to fail
Studying the communication process is important because you coach, coordinate, counsel, evaluate,
and supervise throughout this process. It is the chain of understanding that integrates the
members of an organization from top to bottom, bottom to top, and side to side.
Communicating with others involves three primary steps:
Thought: First, information exists in the mind of the sender. This can be a concept, idea, information, or feelings.
Encoding: Next, a message is sent to a receiver in words or other symbols.
Decoding: Lastly, the receiver translates the words or symbols into a concept or information that they can understand.
During the transmitting of the message, two elements are received: content and context.
Content is the actual words or symbols of the message that is known as language - the spoken and written words combined into phrases that make grammatical and semantic sense. We all use and interpret the meanings of words differently, so even simple messages can be misunderstood. And many words have different meanings to confuse the issue even more.
Context is the way the message is delivered and is known as paralanguage - it is the nonverbal elements in speech, such as the tone of voice, the look in the sender's eyes, body language, hand gestures, and state of emotions (anger, fear, uncertainty, confidence, etc.) that can be detected. Although paralanguage or context often cause messages to be misunderstood as we believe what we see more than what we hear; they are powerful communicators that help us to understand each other. Indeed, we often trust the accuracy of nonverbal behaviors more than verbal behaviors.
Some leaders think they have communicated once they told someone to do something, "I don't know why it did not get done. I told Jim to do it." More than likely, Jim misunderstood the message. A message has NOT been communicated unless it is understood by the receiver (decoded). How do you know it has been properly received? Two-way communication or feedback tells the sender that the receiver understood the message, its level of importance, and what must be done with it. Communication is an exchange, not a given, as all parties must participate to complete the information exchange.
The Need for Information Sharing
After the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, the security and safety organizations (FBI, CIA, police, fire fighters and Red Cross) realized that better communication between their organizations and within their organizations would better help to ensure the safety and security of US citizens. The natural devastation caused by hurricane Katrina in 2005 also showed that better communication between emergency response agencies was needed.
Number of Security Professionals in the United States
The United States has 1,102,500 security officers according to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016
Edition. It also states there are only 806,400 police officers in the US.
This means there are about 37% more security guards in the US than
police officers. This vast number of security guards means security
officers are posted everywhere at ground level and therefore are an
important part of information sharing within the security and safety
Note: The State of California's Occupational Guide states that for 2015, there were about 146,000 security guards and 74,000 police officers in California. In other words, California has almost twice the number of security guards as police officers.
As a security officer you are the closest observer of security and safety issues at your post and the surrounding local community. This knowledge can be shared with your state and your country. A guard's daily duties may result in observing suspicious activities that have national security implications.
Importance of Maintaining Good Communication Flow Between Organizations
Security guards should work to maintain a good working relationship with police officers and other safety and security personnel in their post's jurisdiction. This encourages the police to share information about activities near your post that pose as possible threats to your duties.