Are security foot patrol officers just crowd pleasers? Security officers on foot have played an important role in the community for many years. There is a general agreement that officers on foot are central to effective community engagement by building rapport, establishing a trusting relationship with the community and positive contacts. Foot patrol has an impact on reducing communal feelings of fear or violent crimes. Officer presence can bring a sense of relief and provide a new piece of mind.
Effective community engagement leads to the community getting to know security officers and officers familiarising themselves with the community. This leads to more tips from informants and a better focus on key priorities. Information obtained by officers can form part of their reporting and are shared timely with local police further aiding intelligence holdings.
People are comfortable approaching an officer for assistance in the street rather than in a vehicle, there is an increase in approachability, and opportunity to intervene in a positive way at the street level. Foot patrols allow officers to be highly visible and more engaged with the community, local businesses, customers, neighbours, and have an enhanced capability to learn about their concerns, challenges, and security needs. By getting out and talking with people and business owners, security can establish relationships where people feel comfortable talking about what and who concerns them. In time security officers have their finger on the pulse of a neighbourhood or event and are able to effectively prepare and plan their patrols with purpose.
Security foot patrol allows officers more time to assess what is going on around them. Foot patrol activity increases potential human contact everywhere. As a result, officers on foot make many more decisions about who they interact with either informally or formally. These choices are important to determine the street tempo and profile of persons in the area monitored.
Foot patrols are interesting because it changes the nature of social interactions between individuals. It slows the pace of approach, allowing an officer the time to assess the person or group, and it draws individuals much closer together. It is important for officers to develop a strategy that provides a consistent officer presence without an obvious routine that can be recognized. Periodically stopping and listening is also important. At times, your ears become attuned to the rhythmic sounds of your steps and equipment jostling while walking for long periods. By not moving for a few moments, it provides the officer an opportunity for the mind and ears to pick up on distant sounds that could be signs of trouble.
Foot patrols are unique in that the community are predominantly welcoming and supportive as they become comfortable going about their day to day activities with a sense of safety. Officers have the ability to generate intelligence as they gain trust of the community, though their strong presence has an enhanced ability to effectively deter crime. The capacity to achieve both increases community satisfaction and crime reduction – more importantly eliminating crime spikes and problems at identified hot spot areas.
If you are experiencing an increase in crime or suspicious activities in your local neighbourhood or business area or require a high visibility security presence at your next event call the CSI team today.