Published August 18, 1998
Volume 6, Number 8

Pleasanton Police Offers Many Tips, Services for Business Security and Safety  

Officer Collins
Officer Michael Collins examines the door frame in a recent security survey.

Everyone knows to call the police after a crime occurs. It's not as widely acknowledged, however, that the police can be instrumental in recommending improvements to business security that prevent crimes from taking place to begin with.

"We are a resource that's available to the business community, but that most people aren't aware of," explains Officer Michael Collins, who serves with the Pleasanton Police Department's Crime Prevention unit. "They tend not to think of us as being proactive, but we're trying to get businesses to recognize that the police can be called on for advice and we'll put together programs and work with them."

Through the Crime Prevention unit, the Pleasanton Police Department offers a broad variety of services and information resources, many of which can be custom tailored to the security needs of a specific business. 

A Full Menu of Services
Regardless of the type of business, the Crime Prevention unit can provide information to deter crime and enhance the security of employees. 

"The way we go about preventing crime is through education," says Collins. 

A number of different programs are offered:

Commercial Security Surveys These surveys review the overall physical security of a building. Conducted by officers who do a thorough on-site walk through, suggestions may be made on the layout of offices and more. 

"As an example, at one place, we recommended that the receptionist's desk be turned around so that she could have a clear view of who enters both doors, on each side of the building," says Collins.

These surveys include detailed, professional inspections of doors, windows, vents, skylights, and other exterior details. Shipping and receiving docks are examined, if present, in addition to yard storage and company vehicle parking. 

Inside, the focus is on cash and key control, when applicable, as well as the accessibility of office equipment. 

Workplace Security    This program encourages employees to become more security-minded in the workplace by teaching them how to recognize and report suspicious activity. 

Preventing unauthorized access to the building is key in this effort, Collins notes. "Some companies have taken great measures to have a real secure front door access, with a guard and magnetic access strips," he says. Even with these measures in place, however, Collins adds that monitoring the use of side doors and access areas may also be needed.

Teaching employees to recognize a suspicious person is also important. In large, growing companies, sometimes all the employees don't know each other by sight. Potential thieves sometimes try to take advantage of this by entering the business to steal office equipment or personal belongings. 

"People still think of criminals as having a particular look," explains Collins. "The reality is that most of the guys we arrest for thefts out of offices during working hours are guys that look like they belong there. They do everything they can to blend in."

Laptop computers are a favorite target of thieves, thanks to their portability and high resale values. Unattended personal belongings are another. 

In the event that a suspicious person is seen in a business, Collins advises that a non-confrontational, direct approach is the best to use. 

"If you see someone wandering around your office and you've never seen them before, ask if you can help them with something or introduce yourself," he says. 

Violence in the Workplace    This program teaches employees how to recognize and report aggressive behavior, and includes tips on how to handle someone who is potentially violent. Information for administrators is also provided for the development of relevant policies. 

"For companies with this concern, we're available to review their security policies, the physical security of the building, and whatever else is necessary," says Collins.

Bomb Threats    This program is designed to let employees know how to react in the event a bomb threat is made, and includes instruction for telephone answerers on what information should be gathered. 

Robbery Awareness    This program is designed primarily for banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. As with many of the other programs, there is an emphasis on learning how to recognize and report suspicious activity. What to do if a robbery should occur is also covered. 

Personal Safety    This seminar focuses on teaching people how to be more aware of their surroundings and potential danger, both in and out of the workplace. 

Fraud Awareness    Aimed at retail businesses and other establishments which deal with credit card transactions, the fraud awareness program focuses on the prevention of check and credit card fraud schemes. Employees learn to recognize, document, and report suspicious behavior.

Emergency Preparedness    This workshop explains how to prepare employees and the building for disasters such as earthquakes, fire, flood, hazardous materials, and more. 

Customized Crime Prevention Programs
The Pleasanton Police Department also offers programs which are tailored to the specific needs of a business. 

"If a company has a unique problem, we'll sit down with them and talk about how we can help," says Collins. "We'll sometimes pull something from this program, a little from that program, and put together exactly what they're looking for." 

Some of the Crime Prevention unit's greatest success has been in initiating these custom programs. For instance, a hotel security group was formed with the police department and a consortium of all the hotels and motels in Pleasanton. 

The consortium shares information among the members of the group and the police department, informing others of suspicious activity or patterns.

"Because they're sharing all this information, we'be been able to knock hotel and motel crime down to almost nothing," reports Collins. 

Police Video Library
The Pleasanton Police Department also makes available a video library of over 20 different titles.

The library includes three tapes on shoplifting; titles on armed robbery, bomb threats, violence in the workplace, credit card fraud; and several tapes on earthquake preparedness. 

The tapes range from 10 to 60 minutes and are available free of charge. 

For More Information
Additional information on the Pleasanton Police Department's Crime Prevention program is available by calling Officer Michael Collins at (925) 484-8127.


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