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Why Proactive Policing Matters Around Government Buildings

by Morgan Sears / April 18, 2024

When you hear the words “security assessment,” it is common to associate them with surveillance cameras, access control, and visitor vetting (e.g., ID scanning and appointment verification). As a security assessor, I need to understand what keeps a facility and its occupants safe, which may mean considering less obvious security measures to improve and maintain a secure environment.

Alongside the physical aspects of security, one vital way to foster a sense of connection to the facility and the people involved is to engage with the employees (i.e., stakeholders). These individuals spend every workday within the walls, and their insights can often reveal concerns that may not be immediately visible to the assessor during their visit.

I recently had the privilege of assessing multiple government facilities and spending many hours speaking with employees across all levels. While each discussion was unique regarding how they felt improvements could be made, one concern was frequently raised: they wanted to see more police presence throughout the parking lots due to disruptive and sometimes illegal activities.

How can proactive policing specifically benefit a government building or department? In this blog, we will explore the concept of proactive policing, its significance, and how it can be leveraged to enhance security in and around government facilities.

What is Proactive Policing?

Proactive policing is a highly effective strategy used by law enforcement to prevent or reduce crime in specific areas. It serves as a crime deterrent and helps build community relationships and trust between citizens and law enforcement, enhancing overall security.

Law enforcement's proactive approach to being visible can help deter criminal behavior and build connections with the community. When implemented effectively, this proactive policing strategy can instill a sense of hope and reassurance in the community. It can be as effective on a smaller scale, such as within a parking lot of an office building or a school, as on a larger scale, such as on a street or neighborhood with high crime activity.

For businesses, like the government buildings I recently assessed, that have dealt with disruptive or illegal behaviors around the parking area or facility entrance, implementing a proactive patrol approach can be as simple as an officer driving through the parking lots a few times per day. This straightforward measure can empower businesses to take control of their security and ensure the safety of their employees.

Why Proactive Policing is Important

Community Engagement

Law enforcement officers depend on the trust of the citizens they strive to help. Engaging with business employees, managers, and maintenance workers can help familiarize officers with faces and help them know who is supposed to be on the premises and who to talk to if concerns arise. This also allows officers to present themselves as allies to employees or individuals who may not have experience with law enforcement.

Increased Sense of Security and Positive Perception

When people have little experience with positive interactions with law enforcement or have a negative perception based on social media influence, it’s easy to understand why a sense of fear exists.  

Officers positively increasing their presence allows for additional interactions on a daily or weekly basis that help people get to know them. It provides a sense of protection for employees who have dealt with disruptive or illegal situations, such as individuals trespassing/loitering or attempting to enter employee vehicles.

Extra Eyes on the Premises

Police officers are trained to recognize when something is out of the ordinary. By routinely driving through parking lots, they familiarize themselves with the surroundings, such as the vehicles that pass through daily, the location of building entrances, trash receptacles and dumpsters, and the overall feel of the building and surrounding area. The area's familiarity aids law enforcement in observing when things are out of place or not quite right.

Boots on the ground are not the only way law enforcement can get extra eyes on a government building. If the surveillance systems belong to them, police can view live and recorded footage through the security cameras inside and outside the building.

This was the case with the government buildings I recently assessed, and local law enforcement provided additional surveillance coverage for facilities management supervisors. This helps officers better observe a larger scale of the property and have access to video evidence if a crime occurs outside of business hours.

Crime and Disruption Deterrent

You can’t put a price on an employee’s complete sense of security and the ability to walk outside an office building to their car without a concern of illegal activity occurring near or against them. An officer’s repeated presence throughout the day should be staggered over time and random. This prevents complacency and the chance that anyone watching would learn a routine and commit a crime when they know an officer wouldn’t be nearby.

From loitering teenagers on the property edge to vandals and thieves going through vehicles, there are many different reasons why someone would have concerns walking to their car. This concern is especially heightened in the winter when the sun sets by the end of a business day. An officer’s presence in the area is a small task that can help create a large sense of safety.

How to Increase Proactive Policing

How does someone get extra patrols around their office building? To develop a relationship with local law enforcement, building managers can meet with patrol supervisors to express their concerns and the time of day when security issues arise. An example of a consistent issue would be after school hours when high school students are loitering on the property.

A best practice is to provide first responders with updated floor plans to familiarize them with the property inside and out before beginning a routine patrol. Providing additional access keys or cards to officers can aid them if they need to enter the building during an emergency. It’s just as important for officers to feel that their presence is welcome; this will help promote an environment of trust between all parties.

Final Thoughts

Safety and security can be greatly enhanced by utilizing the available assets, whether in a school, government office building, or general business facility. Having a proactive patrol routine for your building is just one of the low-cost measures building employees can take to ensure a safe work environment. When we all work together, and officers promote positive community engagement, we can ensure our work environments are the safest place for everyone.

Police patrols in government building parking lots are crucial for deterring criminal activity and ensuring the safety of employees and visitors. These patrols help prevent theft and vandalism and provide a visible law enforcement presence, promoting a sense of security and confidence in the community. Additionally, proactive policing can help identify and address any suspicious behavior or potential security threats before they escalate, thus safeguarding the integrity of government operations.

Tags: Workplace Security

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Morgan Sears

Morgan Sears

Morgan is a planner and data analyst with Fentress, Inc. She has a Master’s Degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice. She enjoys baseball, running and spending time with her husband and son.