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Internal Patrols

Internal patrols are a key element of an overall loss prevention program and are

an integral part of the daily duties of security personnel. Generally, internal

patrols are conducted for the same reason as external patrols; to observe,

act and report on abnormal or unusual conditions. As part of internal

patrols, security personnel should include the following:


  • Checking doors & windows; correcting & reporting abnormal conditions

  • (i.e. open, closed, locked, unlocked)

  • Checking machinery and/or maintenance instruments

  • Observing fire protection equipment (sprinklers, risers, fire exit, etc.)

  • for proper condition

  • General Observations

  • Assigned Areas for Internal Patrols


Usually internal patrols are arranged in some sort of systematic manner which includes the times and routes of the patrols. Often a facility of considerable size will have various internal patrols which may be conducted simultaneously by two or more officers or may be alternately patrolled at prearranged times. Whatever the situation, it is essential that security personnel remain in their assigned patrol areas unless requested to aid or assist someone. If the security officer is required to leave their assigned patrol area, a supervisor or other officer (if practical & possible) should be notified. This absence from the assigned area should also be noted in the appropriate logs. Unfortunately, incidents will occur in an area that is patrolled by a security officer. Without fail, if security did not observe the incident in any manner, questions will be asked by management as to where was the security officer and what were they doing during the time of the incident.


First Patrol


Whenever one security officer is relieving another at the change of shifts, after the normal discussion of events on the preceding shift the relieving officer will often conduct a patrol of the facility. This patrol is the most important one since it is at the beginning of a shift. At this time, a security officer should note and correct any unusual occurrences. By documenting and correcting any problems during the first patrol, a basis of comparison will be established which may prove invaluable at a later time.


During this first patrol, the professional security officer will note the doors and windows which are opened or unlocked but should be closed and locked. Lights which are left on should also be noted. Particular attention should be given to those areas where problems have occurred in the past such as vending machines, cafeterias, restrooms, conference rooms and executive offices.


During subsequent patrols, the professional security officer will be able to quickly determine if something is out of place because of the diligence paid during the first patrol.

Pattern Variations


Virtually every security textbook stresses the importance of varying the route and time of patrols. No two security officers conduct their patrols in the exact same manner. One officer may pay close attention to open doors and windows while another walks through out-of-the-way places. The point to be made is that even patrols made in a reliable yet systematic routine diminish the effectiveness of patrols. Employees of the protected facility will often joke that they can set their watch to the patrols of a security officer.


In an effort to break monotonous, routine patrols, security officers should be encouraged to be creative during their patrols; staggering the time and route of patrols. Merely conducting a patrol while simply "going through the motions" serves little use.


Entrance & Exit Points


The easiest and simplest way to enter a facility is through an entrance or exit. Usually these points of ingress and egress are controlled either by a receptionist, security officer, lock, camera or some other access control mechanism. However, some entrance points are not controlled adequately, especially visitor and employee entrances. Even with sophisticated electronic security devices, compromises occur. That is why, as part of an internal or external patrol, the security officer should review activity at entrance and exit points.


Persons, who intend to steal from a facility or commit some other sort of act which would damage an organization will usually enter or exit the building the easiest and quickest way possible. An observant security officer visible at entrance and exit points may never apprehend a criminal but will no doubt prevent some losses from occurring.


Watchclock Rounds


The use of a watchclock to record the time at which a security officer was at a particular location is still in use today. Many companies have changed to a computerized version of the watchclock which serves the same purpose: to provide supervision with a tool to document and evaluate the patrols of a security officer. A record is produced which allows for a proper evaluation to be conducted on the time and route of patrol.


A major problem with the watchclock system is that "punching the clock station" becomes the primary objective of the security officer as opposed to observing, correcting and reporting on anything which appears out of the ordinary.


Proper care and maintenance of the watchclock is required to insure proper operation. Damage to the unit is the primary cause for reliability problems. Any damage to the watchclock should be immediately noted in the daily shift log.

General Foot Patrols


In a Foot Patrol, the security guard walks their beat. They can patrol both indoors and outdoors. A guard who patrols by foot really gets to know their beat. They know how things should be, which allows them to notice when things are not as they should be. People also get to know the guard who patrols on foot. This is good for public relations. The guard on foot patrol places themselves frequently, but not at specific times, at high security risk areas, which deters criminal activity in that area.


Drawbacks of foot patrol are that a guard can only cover a small area, it takes a long time to make a patrol round, it takes a long time to get to emergency equipment and bad weather can hamper foot patrols.


Foot patrols can also be of internal building areas or other areas that mobile patrols cannot access. Large facilities will have multiple guards on patrol.

Foot Patrol Techniques


The following are foot patrol techniques guards can use to help keep themselves safe while on patrol:


A security guard should observe from a safe distance or location the area they are about to enter. This helps prevent them from walking into a dangerous situation.

A guard should turn on lights when entering a room and turn the lights off when exiting a room. Using a flashlight to look into a room will make the guard visible to anyone in the room, but the guard will not be able to see the intruder. This puts the guard in unnecessary danger.

When approaching a building to enter it, a guard should first do a visual inspection of the building. A guard should not enter a building that they suspect might have intruders in it. Entering the building would put the guard's safety at risk. A "yes" to one of the following questions could indicate that an intruder is inside.

Are there lights on?

Doors or windows open that shouldn't be?

Are there signs of forced entry?

Is there a vehicle parked outside with someone in it or with its engine running?

Are there sounds coming from the building that are not typical?

A guard should not approach a darkened window or door directly to look inside. They should approach out of direct view and shine their flashlight from a safe distance into the door or window first. If a guard approaches a darkened window with their flashlight, an intruder can easily pinpoint the guard's location. This puts the guard's safety at risk.

A guard should wear proper shoes that are comfortable for walking. A guard should also have coats, gloves or hats to keep them warm should the weather change. Not going on patrol because of inadequate clothing or sore feet, is not allowed.

A guard should inspect their equipment before going on patrol. The Officer Safety course covers equipment inspection.

Foot Patrol at Shopping Malls


A security guard working at a mall performs a customer service mall. People want to shop at malls that are free of problems and are safe. A mall security guard should be certified in CPR and know the basics of first aid. A guard should know the mall's floor plan, the location of stores, entrances, emergency exits, fire equipment, first aid supplies, mall hours, employee hours, location of shipping and receiving docks, parking lot layouts and when special events are planned at the mall. A guard should handle all confrontations out of view and hearing of other shoppers. Using the mall security office to resolve a situation is preferable. This protects the privacy of the individual or individuals and does not draw crowds to the conflict. A guard should follow the guidelines for interviews presented in this course, if they need to resolve an incident by taking a customer / suspect to the security office.


Foot Patrol at Construction Sites


Construction sites are frequently targeted by thieves looking for free building materials. Hence, security guards are often hired to protect the building materials at a construction site. Unauthorized persons at a construction site also pose a safety hazard to themselves. Security guards should turn back vehicles attempting to get into the construction site after hours unless the guard has received specific instructions as to which vehicles and persons to allow onto the site after hours.


Foot Patrol at Apartment Complexes


Guards who patrol apartment complexes are mostly concerned with protecting the apartment property, tenant vehicles and tenant safety. Guards should develop good relations with tenants so they can be informed of possible problem tenants, problem areas and safety issues. If an apartment guard faces an incident that needs conflict resolution it is best that they call the police to handle the incident. The guard must be at the apartment complex with its tenants on a daily basis. If the guard tries to resolve an incident, they may lose the cooperation of tenants in the building, who take sides in the dispute. Hence, it is better for the police to handle incidents at apartment complexes.

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