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Dror Levy. Credit: Gray Security Consulting

Innovative Security Approach – Proactive Behavioral Analysis

The issue of security at shopping centers has become increasingly important. A proactive concept that relies on behavioral analysis and is backed by years of considerable success preventing terrorism and crime, has proven itself to be professional, deterrent, precise, and efficient.

By Dror Levy

In most countries, security is considered to be a defensive measure. We often see security guards positioned at the entrances of malls, checking customers’ personal bags, with no clear goal, waiting for “the worst of all eventualities”, while performing passive and Sisyphean security work.

Proactiveness and behavioral analysis in the course of a security guard’s work are, according to the modern security concept, critical components for better, more focused, and efficient security. The security concept at crowded sites, such as malls, train stations, stadiums, etc., has undergone changes in recent years, and now provides different responses to modes of operation that have seen minimal change (terrorism, vandalism, theft). Those responses are reflected in the use of ground-breaking technologies and the training of personnel to analyze behavior and to be proactive.

In this article, I will discuss the human component, the concept surrounding the security guard’s role and that of the control room operator, and their contributions, which are so essential in terms of overall security.

About One Percent of Visitors Is of Concern

The proactive security concept, which relies on behavioral analysis and comes from the world of aviation security, is backed by years of considerable success preventing terrorism and crime, accompanied by studies that have shown it to be professional, deterrent, precise, and efficient.

According to this concept, 99 percent of visitors are present “innocently” and “legitimately”. The one percent whose behavior or appearance elicits even the slightest suspicion of not fitting in with or standing out against the background at the time or place in question give rise to a “security response” in the form of a closer look, soft questioning, and, if necessary, a physical check, with the aim of verifying the legitimacy of the visitor. If there is concern about public safety, the relevant law enforcement authorities become involved. In terms of percentages, such cases account for less than one-tenth of one percent of all visitors.

Identifying “the Irregular”

Terrorist attacks over the last decade have led to widespread public awareness of how to identify “the irregular”. The slogan “See Something, Say Something” is based on our initial instinctive ability to identify unusual behavior. For enforcement authorities, behavioral analysis at the professional level is a matter of course. This originates from private security companies, either due to desire or as a result of understanding that in order to be competitive and adapt themselves to market demands, the skill levels of their personnel must be increased and they must be trained to be “profilers” in addition to being trained as security guards, control room operators, or shift managers. Security guards have the “natural” ability to identify unusual or different behavior in a known environment – just like everyone else. What we have to do is provide them with the knowledge and skill to turn their instincts into identification tools, train them with regard to the various possible responses, and define the zones and proper routine procedures. Basically, we have to give security guards the ability to “See Something, Do Something”.

To sum up the basis of the entire methodology: “People are not suspicious, behavior is.” It is simple, yet so complex.

From Fisher to Hunter

The prevailing concept is that this is a racist, generalizing approach that is focused on religion or ethnic origin. However, it is, in fact, based on behavioral analysis methodologies (microscience, body language, etc.) and on unusual behavior. Race and religion are insignificant when profilers have undergone training and possess the knowledge and skill to discern abnormalities in a changing vista. Security guards are best acquainted with their own routines – their work environments, territories, visitors’ characteristics, schedules, as well as variances during the day, month, season, and year. Security guards and control room operators (remote) know how to perform behavioral analysis in a natural manner in their regular work environments and how to identify any abnormal behavior within their environments. With the proper training, this can become their new work routine and transform them from passive to proactive, focused, and efficient.

One of the benefits of this method is that it provides skills and resets the state of mind of security guards from passive to proactive or, as we like to call it, from fisher to hunter.

When a security guard knows that he or she only has a few seconds to identify the irregular or suspicious, he or she remains in search mode, primed with operational tension. In contrast to reactivity in response to a situation, proactivity leads to initiative, action, and, eventually, to improved security work.

Maintaining Operational Tension

Proactive behavioral analysis is an integral part of the security circles that are designed to identify hazards as far away as possible from the core of the secured entity and dense crowds. Adding an element of profiling and proactivity to the control room operator via security cameras, with or without analytics, backed by a security guard and a shift manager with profiling ability, enhances the effectiveness of the existing security array. It is important to train and drill this skill in order to maintain operational tension. Drills should be carried out frequently and in a variety of manners that combine as many factors as possible in the security envelope.

The power to effect change is in the hands of the property owners, malls, retail stores, and crowded sites. Those entities can set standards that are higher than the accepted benchmark. However, the demand itself is not sufficient. The process requires procedures to be written and validated that define the routine and emergency functioning, quantification and measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs) for security personnel, audits and drills, and constantly repeated training, because part of my belief system is that learning is a process that never ends – somewhat like security.

About the Author

Dror Levy is Co-Founder of Gray Security Consulting. He has an extensive background in the security world, in general, and in aviation security, in particular, as well as a wealth of experience in behavioral analysis in commercial environments and crowded public areas.