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The Security Officer's Role, Part III by Dana Turner, Security Education Systems

The Third Problem: Support & ResourcesThe third problem is to support the institution's Security Officer. Your institution's primary goals is to provide effective customer service and to generate a profit. Often, though, the security function is thought of as strictly expensive overhead. It's part of the security director's job to change this perception. A wise Board of Directors can help by recognizing that a well-trained and professional Security Officer will help the institution keep more of the profits that it makes by creating a "customer- friendly" - but "offender-hostile" - business environment.An institution's Board of Directors that has a clear vision of the security function is often the key to the Security Officer's success. A Board can best support the efforts of the institution's Security Officer by:

  • Insisting upon a "security-conscious" organizational attitude at all levels. This means allowing the security officer access not only to implementation of rules, but also the ability to oversee institution wide training.
  • Developing and adhering to an Ethics Policy or Code of Conduct that's designed to hold all persons responsible for results, for safeguarding the integrity of investigations - and for preserving the institution's image. This means a follow up and a re-commitment annually with each employee signing off on their copy of the Ethics Policy / Code of Conduct.
  • Providing the Security Officer with a Board member who will act as both a mentor and as a day-to-day contact relating to issues that are likely to affect the organization in general and the Board of Directors in particular. The more the Board knows about the security function, the better it is for the financial institution.
  • Including the security officer as a member of the institution's Executive Committee - at least regarding security issues. The security officer also needs to be "in" on new products and marketing drives, to be sure disclaimers don't get pushed off ads to make room for pretty pictures or words like "Free!".
  • Helping to develop a mission statement for the Security Department. Goals are hard to reach if you don't know what they are - and it's important for the Board to know too.
  • Creating a Security Committee. It's best if it includes the institution's:
    • President, CEO or a designate;
    • Legal Counsel;
    • Security Officer;
    • Auditor;
    • Human Resources Manager; and
    • Operations Manager;
  • Creating a budget for the Security Department that allows the Security Officer to track profits and losses. Here's a stickler in many cases. Because the security function is thought of as overhead, there often is not a budget even considered. Security devices are on an "as needed" separate purchase when the security officer's role is a part-time position. Security equipment, functions, and needs should be reviewed routinely and purchases and upgrades should be regular, and budgeted.
  • Providing appropriate insurance because of the significant liabilities involved with the position, including:
    • D&O: Director and officer liability insurance that will address issues arising out of the Security Officer's normal duties and responsibilities as an officer of the institution;
    • E&O: Errors and omissions insurance that will address issues that may occur relating to conducting investigations and the preparation of reports; and
    • Professional liability: Professional liability insurance that will address issues that relate to the Security Officer's (and related personnel's) conduct;

There are other things a Board of Directors can do to show support for the Security Officer. For instance, the Board could:

  • Request a security "update" and related briefings more frequently than regulatory agencies' annual requirement. The Security Officer, will, of course, give a report to the Board any time there is an 'event' such as a hold-up or a disaster of such proportions that make it necessary. But reports should also be frequent enough to keep the security function important in the minds of the Board members.
  • Requiring that all employees attend security training meetings -- particularly the institution's executives and directors. If your bank is attacked by robbers who do a "take-down" of all employees, every person in the office is involved. And it only takes one to make a mistake that would put all in danger. If the Security officer has the backing of the Board of Directors requiring all employees to attend robbery response training, he/she can do their job much more effectively.
  • Participating in a special security training program that affects Board responsibilities. A program that is of particular interest is that of hostage taking. Members of the Board could be targets of such an action, and should know how to protect themselves and their families. Attending regular training sessions also to keeps them up-do-date on the latest techniques and problems.
  • Carefully reviewing budget requests for new or enhanced security devices, particularly non-traditional ones. If the Board of Directors sees the need for security devices, they will be purchased.
  • Recognizing that all security matters -- like many other institution-related matters -- are confidential. It's the job of the Security officer to really bring this home to the Board. And it can't be done too strongly or too frequently.

(Editor's Note - This series of training pages is for the new and/or experienced Security Officer. Dana Turner is a security practitioner from Pipe Creek, Texas. Dana has delivered thousands of platform, telephone and Internet presentations offered by state and national banking and law enforcement agencies. Dana is the author of the Financial Institution Security Library, serves as one of the moderators in BankersOnline.com's Security Forum and is a contributor to the Bankers' Hotline. You may contact Dana by calling (830) 535-6500 or emailing him at danaturner@email.com)

Copyright © 2004 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 14, No. 10, 12/04

First published on 12/01/2004

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