The Failings of “Observe and Report” Security Models

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Table of Contents

Currently, most CONUS (within the continental United States) private security platforms largely operate within the confines on two legacy models: 

  1. Observe-and-Report, and; 
  2. The Law Enforcement Model. 

Although exceptions in the industry exist, it is far and few between. To better understand these models, their strengths and weaknesses, a detailed review is necessary. First, let’s examine the Observe-and-Report security model. 

This model, more than others, is self-explanatory–the purpose of this program is twofold: 

  1. To offer a live, recorded or monitored form of reconnaissance or observation, and; 
  2. To make the necessary notification to law enforcement or alternative physical security assets.

For many years, in most cases, the Observe-and-Report model sufficiently secured

physical assets with ease and moderate amounts of private capital requirements. Overtime,

Observe-and-Report became the go-to service product and the industry standard. This being said, the overall success of this model was not based upon creative, innovative or proactive

characteristics, rather, it rested upon the presence of very necessary societal structures.

These necessary structures or systems included the following: 

  1. Vibrant and proactive policing programs; 
  2. An informed, consistent and trustworthy criminal justice process; 
  3. Consistent societal norms–regulations and laws–that private business and the public citizenry could rely upon, and; 
  4. A lasting reciprocating relationship, one based upon mutual trust and respect, between the aforementioned components – Private businesses and citizens, politicians, District Attorney’s offices and law enforcement agencies.

In recent years, cities, like Portland, Oregon, experienced steep declines in these private

and governmental systems. For example, political pressure and national news stories highlighting police misconduct and abuse engendered police departments’ lack of vision and drive, resulting in dwindling recruitment levels, record retirements and a general malaise in productivity. This complete lack of emergency services fueled an already increasing nationwide criminal enterprise – solidifying a generational crime wave. In cities across America, homicides, drug addiction rates, and incidents of theft and assaults have skyrocketed. This systemic failure within the policing industry resulted in the collapse of the “observe-and-report” security industry. Security companies continued to observe and report but, by and large, law enforcement became unable, uninterested or unwilling to respond in a timely manner. Ultimately, this dynamic led to fewer incidents of arrests, which only served to embolden criminal elements. District attorney’s offices have also contributed to the systemic failure of the nation’s privatized security apparati. Specifically, DA’s in major cities abdicated their responsibilities to

protect the public. This was a result of the politicization of the office of district attorneys. As

more and more distinct attorneys embraced the process of politicization, respective DA’s

loyalties were no longer allied with the victims of crimes, but rather their particular parties’

platforms and ambitions, which has led to fewer prosecutors, decreased prosecutions, and a lack of strategic and missional thinking and procedure. By emboldening criminal enterprise, many district attorneys have turned a deaf ear to police departments, security companies, private businesses and the victims of violent crimes. Again, similar to the consequences resulting from the lack of emergency services, ineffective DA’s have encouraged the entrenchment and enlargement of legitimate criminal organizations in major urban areas. 

Conversely, lack of prosecutions has also led to the decrease of reformative efforts, such as drug treatment appointments, attendance within therapeutic counseling programs and voluntary mentoring initiatives among inmate populations. Simply, with no active arrests and convictions, fewer numbers of disenfranchised criminal elements have not been afforded the necessary opportunities to cycle out of and away from destructive social structures, such as gang membership, drug addiction, forced criminal labor, and forced prostitution. This overall breakdown of the criminal justice system in urban locales has forced private security firms to reimagine protective services. This paradigm shift was first felt by entities engaged in “observe-and-report” security models. The majority of America’s security firms chose to shift focus away from “observe-and-report” platforms, a now failing program, toward the industry’s second legacy model: “the law enforcement model”. To hear about how the “law

enforcement model”, check out my next blog!

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