As property crimes appear to be on the rise as an almost inevitable spin-off of Central Oregon’s population growth, security has also become an increasingly high profile area for business owners, organizations and residents looking to minimize their vulnerability.
Private security is a burgeoning business, with a number of local exponents also noting a trend towards increasing property thefts in the summertime, as windows, doors and garages left open can prove particularly tempting to the opportunistic criminal.
“If it can be locked it probably should,” says Brian Shawver, head of Bend-based Security Pros, the largest security services provider in the region.
“If you perused the police department’s incident log, you would probably notice an uptick in opportunistic-type thefts at this time of year, so it is always prudent to take precautions to deter criminals cruising neighborhoods looking for possible easy targets.
“We are also trying to minimize or eliminate problems any way we can to benefit the community.
“The area is still relatively safe to live and work, but the days of leaving your car or house unlocked never really existed. The more secure, the safer your home or business will be.”
Shawver operates Security Pros along with his wife Dianna, who also has an extensive business background, and has seen an increase in security needs and an exponential growth in his business since acquiring the company in 2002.
His firm, also known for its trademark red and yellow Honda Civic Coupe vehicles and neatly-attired employees, offers services catering to everything from construction sites to shopping centers, healthcare facilities, manufacturing plants and professional office buildings.
With a professional corporate philosophy honed over Shawver’s 24 years as a Bend business owner, the Security Pros services cover four major areas, including:
– Mobile business patrols with a fleet of vehicles patrolling primarily commercial properties in designated zones;
– Posted on-site officers that require multiple stops at a given location, including at commercial construction sites such as the recent Suterra and Les Schwab corporate headquarters developments in Bend’s Juniper Ridge business park;
– Special events security with certified, uniformed teams at generally outdoors or seasonal fixtures such as the Sagebrush Classic or upcoming Flashback Cruz car show;
– Alarm response for a voluminous list of clients, generally from 6pm to 6am daily, who want the reassurance of a rapid response time in case of an emergency.
Along with other industry leaders, Security Pros has also embraced the latest new technologies including electronic monitoring and a high-tech Electronic Verification System (EVS) where, at designated route chekpoints, patrol officers wave an electronic wand over installed memory buttons that record key information for both the company and building owners.
Time date and location are recorded, verifying that the checkpoints have been visited the number of time agreed contractually, and providing a high level of accountability.
Clients are also faxed reports each morning updating any problems or suspicious-looking activity as part of an effort to be pro-active in terms of crime prevention.
One of the company’s larger customers is The Shops at the Old Mill District, where visitors may be familiar with the distinctive corporate-colored “electric security vehicles” – which are road-legal and look akin to a souped-up golf cart – used exclusively for operations at the site.
The two low-speed vehicles (LSV’s) are also equipped with rear-facing seats to safely escort customers and employees, especially welcome when commuter vehicles may be parked far from the workplace on dark winter evenings.
Security Pros also has its 3,400 square foot headquarters in the Old Mill District, with an operational center from which field manager Ray Rodriguez oversees the duties of some 50 employees.
The professionalism evident at the base is also representative of Shawver’s focus on “operational excellence”.
He added: “We protect around $1 billion in local client assets and it’s all about how we do it consistently 365 days a year”.
Part of that professionalism extends to the neat look of the vehicle fleet and officer uniforms, as “appearance is everything in the field of security.” But Shawver is quick to point out: “We try not to look like police and that is by design. I grew up with a number of family members in law enforcement and would be the first to tell you that security guards are not cops.
“We are simply trying to bring a degree of professionalism to security and work with law enforcement to protect our clients and detour crime whenever possible.” He also observed that a number of former Security Pros employees were now currently sworn police officers and that security experience can be a “great start” for those interested in a career in law enforcement.
The City of Bend has actually recently enacted an ordinance to prevent security companies from looking too much like the Bend Police Department, including a requirement that the chief of police approve specific appearances.
The ordinance, under the heading “Misrepresentation of City of Bend Affiliation” states:
– No person or business shall market their business in any way that implies endorsement by or connection with the City of Bend;
– Use or depiction of Bend Police Department uniforms, vehicle(s), images or badges without approval of the Chief of Police is prohibited;
– No person shall create or use a uniform, vehicle or badge that is similar to those of the Bend Police Department in marketing a business;
– No unauthorized person shall take any action or represent themselves as being affiliated with the City of Bend.
A violation of the ordinance is classified as a Class A civil infraction.
Bend Police Department Community Liaison Steve Esselstyn said: “If an organization looks too much like the police department it can cause confusion for the public.
“For example, if someone mistook a private security car for a police vehicle and tried to wave it down without it stopping that could cause distress or impact public protection.
“The ordinance is meant to ensure that security firms are recognized as private and not affiliated with Bend Police Department.
“Imitation is often the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case would not be in the public interest.
“We appreciate working with security companies, but this ordinance was tabled to define certain appropriate limitations.”
Shawver’s father and uncle, who have over 50 years of experience in law enforcement, train company officers in required certification standards set by the Oregon Department of Public Safety (Standards and Training). Shawver also fulfills a requirement to be a licensed manager of the business, and employees undergo drug testing and a full background check before being hired.
The private security industry in Oregon has been pro-active in working with the State legislature on regulation, first introduced in 1997, to promote excellence in public safety and private security through the development of professional standards and the delivery of quality training.
Shawver also announced the recent formation of the “Security Pros University”, offering non-employees the same level of instruction and training which has been provided to the company’s own officers for many years.
www.securityprosbend.com; 541- 330-0404