In-house Team or Contract Security
by Michael Gallagher

What Should We Use?

When setting up security for anything, there are several variables. One decision is whether to use contract security, an in-house team or a combination of both. That decision will depend greatly on your security objective, your client and in the US, your state’s liability laws. These three things overlap each other and can make the decision process pretty dicey. As always the security objective must be established. Without that, all other variables are mute. So what do we want to accomplish? Are we doing EP for just a single client and have only his/her security in mind? Is it estate security? Or, a corporation with multiple types of security and a great deal of travel. (i. e. EP, facility security, electronic security and Information technology security). Is this a long term, or a short term project? Once our objective is established, we need to look at the client.

Who is the client? What are their needs? The rare client will allow you to take care of security issues unencumbered. Some clients know that security is necessary but really don’t want it. We are in many cases a lesser of two evils in the eyes of our client. Hiring security personnel and being in their company is a constant reminder that security is necessary. Clients can find it difficult to reconcile that a threat exists and will really look for any reason to decline security. The most common tactic is to say that funds are not available. The next most common reason is usually liability. Both reasons are an easy out in the business world. The way to combat these issues is to know the laws of your state where they relate to security and vicarious liability.

We need to apply this knowledge to cost effective security measures. Be able to “show” the client minimum liability and maximum value for their security dollar.

In California, USA, where I work, I am a big advocate for the "In-house team". My reason for this is that in California the liability laws make everyone responsible. That is to say, a client is no less liable because he/she hired a security company than he/she would be if they employed their own team. Its called “deep pockets”. Where I am, I can show a client more bang for their security buck. An in house team has a big advantage where pay is concerned.

When a contractor is used, a portion of the billable hours must go to the cost of supporting the contractor's company. The contractor must bid the job to account for that and still pay decent wages to keep quality employees. In most cases, the client will be paying to support an infrastructure that they already have. This means more money for fewer bodies. Creative bookkeeping can possibly minimize this, but the in-house team can typically make higher individual wages because overhead is lower. Higher wages means keeping good team members for a longer time. I also have a theory that “In-house” teams have a stronger sense of personal responsibility for the safety of the client. While on the job, I've heard contract security personnel talk many times, about how they could go to any job their company has whenever they wanted. With an attitude like that, where's the loyalty for the current protectee.

With the in-house team, we minimize liabilities by controlling and documenting training, Establishing policies and procedures for our team and holding the team to a high standard of service. We have no such control when using a contractor. A contractor can tell you anything they want.

I have seen companies create documentation for training that never occurred two weeks before court. Unless you have the time and budget to investigate claims, you have to take their word. The bad part is, you only find out how true their words are after an incident has occurred. When in court if the contract security personnel cannot use a positive defense based on documented training and skill level, the liability award will be very high.

Is there a time I would use contract security? Yes. There is no way around it. Special events, traveling domestically or to foreign countries, stalking and even protection for say a woman going through a bitter divorce are but a few examples. Any situation that lacks the business infrastructure to support the team members requires contract security. You have to buy that infrastructure with the security personnel. Anytime the in-house team needs temporary short-term manpower you have to look to contract security. Using contractors when traveling can save the client a great deal of money. Say you need 8 people for a conference in South Africa. The airlines and the city hosting the conference very often double or triple prices for travel and accommodations. You could go to SA with 2 or three members of the core in-house group and contract the rest using locals. This will save your client travel and accommodation costs for those individuals. The local economy in SA also allows for lower per man costs. Locals whom know their way around can also save you a lot of work. Last, if you are in a state where the liability would fall solely on the contractor, (I don't know if they exist anymore), there may be a legitimate balance between the up-front cost and the lack of potential liability.

The important factor when considering contract security is; can they do the job you need them to do cost effectively? Make time to investigate the company fully to verify capabilities. Many companies have very polished PR departments and look great on paper. Don't just accept the perceived reputation of a company. I know a company with a great reputation that looses business to an acquaintance of mine simply because the company cannot support the reputation attributed to them. If the contractor you're dealing with doesn't seem open to a review, that's a good indication to look elsewhere. Ask about policies and procedures; i. e., Given this situation what is your policy? Are they willing to work with you on post orders and come to a compromise on policies that are not consistent with your own? If the company names specific training organizations, check with those organizations to find out if this is so. Those of us whom are serious about our careers keep in touch with training institutions we've trained with and many times, they will know where we are currently employed. Its a good idea to look at larger companies if you are going to travel. Having resources at the location will be less expensive than taking your resources with you.

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