Wednesday, May 22, 2019

CO Training Doesn't End After Orientation

Prison guard tower
Correctional officers (COs) face dangerous situations every day. The 428,000 COs tasked with overseeing 2.3 million incarcerated individuals in this country are well aware of the stresses and risks of the job.

Let's break down the numbers. Correctional institutions have a higher rate of nonfatal workplace-related injuries (7.9 per 100 full-time workers) than ferrous metal foundries (7.4), sawmills (5.9), coal mines (3.7), and forestry and logging operations (3.1). In fact, the national average across all sectors is 3.1 — less than half of what COs face every day.

It would stand to reason that occupations with a high amount of risk, such as being a CO, would warrant a high amount of training. After all, commercial pilots, law enforcement patrol officers, and military soldiers receive extensive training before going out into the world and being entrusted with others' lives.

Unfortunately, that's not always the case for COs. Prisons and jails across the country are filled to the brim with inmates, while a shortage of COs is leaving gaps that are being filled by tired and overworked COs or, in a move that's becoming more common, inexperienced support staff. In some states and facilities, new COs are rushed through a basic orientation class then thrown to the wolves.

The realities of your staffing needs might prevent you from providing COs with much more than orientation before they're sent inside, but that doesn't mean training should stop there. It's more important than ever to maintain routine training — even if it's revisiting basic security processes like key management — for new and experienced COs alike.

Here are some areas where routine training is critical:

Defusing Dangerous Situations


Your COs will inevitably face dangerous situations that could escalate into fights, attacks, or riots. Sometimes it's better to be the brains in the situation than the brawn. Training on how to defuse dangerous situations helps COs keep the peace. A course on crisis intervention, for example, helped Deputy Warden Robert Montoya stay calm while negotiating with inmates during the New Mexico State Penitentiary riot in 1980.

Surviving When the Worst Happens


Physical attacks are going to happen, and COs need to be prepared for how to react. Hand-to-hand combat is probably part of your basic training program for COs, but it's an area that should get frequent refreshing. The ability to escape an attack and de-escalate the situation should be muscle memory. This skill is especially important for the support staff filling shortage gaps since inmates will anticipate they can take advantage of staff members' inexperience.

Catching Smuggled Contraband


From weapons and drugs to food and cell phones, there are any number of things your facility considers contraband, and keeping those items out is a growing challenge. Outsiders — and even insiders — are always searching for and evolving ways to get contraband inside. Routine training should cover the latest methods for smuggling contraband, such as drones, and reinforce the consequences for COs who are caught involved in smuggling.

Maintaining Security Processes


All it takes is one little slipup to give an inmate a chance to escape or instigate problems. Consider a scenario where a cell key is lost by a rookie CO. How soon would your key management officer know the key is missing? How much time and money would you waste rekeying cells because the CO was careless or wasn't held accountable? From making sure gates are closed to practicing sound key management, all security processes should get routine training refreshers.

Even if your COs get extensive training before their first day on the job, it's still important to reinforce these areas. COs must do their job right day in and day out, and even one mistake can lead to an attack or escape attempt. What do you do to make sure your COs always follow procedures?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

How to Predict and Prevent Employee Theft

Man concealing money in suit jacket
Every year, workplace crimes such as employee theft costs U.S. businesses $50 billion. Most of these thieves aren’t hardened criminals who’ve been plotting to defraud their employers from the outset. In fact, the vast majority (96 percent) don’t have prior fraud convictions. With the right motivation and opportunity, employees will try to justify stealing time, money, information, or assets from your organization.

Not all employees steal, of course, so how do you spot and stop insider threats?

Three Characteristics of Employees Who Steal


While insider threats take many forms, people who have stolen from their employers can typically be described by one or more of the following three characteristics.

Disengaged


According to Gallup, only 33 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. Apathetic employees are toxic to the work environment — they miss more work, negatively influence coworkers, cost money in lost productivity, and drive customers away. You might have guessed that they’re more likely to steal as well. In fact, business units with high numbers of disengaged employees lose 51 percent more of their inventory.

Desperate


Desperation can send seemingly trustworthy veteran employees down a slippery slope to fraudulent behavior. Circumstances that can drive people to extreme measures include:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Family problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Addiction struggles
  • Medical issues
  • Job troubles
  • Unstable life circumstances

Faced with any of these issues, an employee could feel there’s no other solution than to misappropriate resources. They might try to justify their actions with excuses such as “The company makes millions every year. A few thousand won’t hurt,” or “I’ll return the money when I can.”

Disgruntled


Disgruntled employees can wreak havoc on your company, retaliating for what they feel is unfair treatment, whether it’s low pay, disrespect, or termination. They may steal proprietary information, facility keys, computer hardware, equipment, money, inventory, time, or things as small as office supplies.

Deterring Theft


Understanding why employees steal is one thing, but preventing theft is another. There are, however, a few things you can do to help nip fraudulent activity in the bud.

Address Suspicious Behaviors


Certain behavioral warning signals can indicate whether or not an employee is more likely to swindle your company:

  • Living beyond their means
  • Developing an unusually close relationship with a vendor, customer, or other business partner
  • Objecting to sharing job duties
  • Displaying a wheeler-dealer attitude
  • Acting irritable, suspicious, or defensive
  • Harassing other employees
  • Frequently showing up late or not at all
  • Abusing internet access by visiting inappropriate websites or spending too much time browsing

It’s important to monitor these behaviors and promptly address any areas of concern.

Hold Employees Accountable


As with most processes, your approach to security should never be “set it and forget it.” Management should be actively involved in ensuring the honest, appropriate employee conduct your organization expects. The following steps are a good start:

  • Have clear company policies that outline expectations for performance and conduct.
  • Enforce predefined consequences for noncompliance.
  • Implement checks and balances such as having employees share responsibilities or requiring two approvals for transactions.
  • Revoke access privileges and confiscate company property immediately when employees leave.

By holding employees accountable, you can reduce opportunities for theft.

Detect and Investigate Suspected Theft


Unfortunately, even with precautions in place, theft does still happen. To help you detect and investigate suspected theft, implement the measures below:

  • Secure restricted areas or equipment with hardware or software that can track user access.
  • Set up automatic alerts for suspicious activity on key control, accounting, or other systems.
  • Establish a tip hotline or other reporting process employees can use to anonymously report any fishy behavior they’ve observed.

Once you’ve been tipped off to possible wrongdoing, be sure to act promptly to minimize the impact on your organization.

By being proactive and aware of what’s going on inside the four walls of your business, you can avoid being a part of that $50 billion tab for employee theft.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Multifamily Reputation Management Starts Offline

Person's finger leaving review on smartphone with boxes in background
How many people read reviews before leasing an apartment? A better question is, how many don’t? According to studies by Apartments.com, Entrata, NMHC/Kingsley Associates, and reputation.com, the majority of prospective renters — 80-98 percent, depending on which study you look at — want to know what other people have to say about an apartment community before they sign a lease.

With those numbers, it’s not hard to see why reputation management is a hot topic in the multifamily industry. You can find a lot of tips for monitoring and responding to reviews, but don’t forget that reputation management starts offline. After all, if residents have a positive living experience, what reason do they have to leave a poor review?

To create that kind of experience, you have to consider what residents really want. Some people value amenities such as outdoor kitchens or valet trash service, but many prioritize features that should be givens, like privacy and safety.

Here are three steps you can take to give residents the protection they need to feel that your community is the place they want to call home.

Respect Living Space


Even though they don’t own their homes, apartment residents want to maintain a sense of personal space and feel secure where they live. In fact, 63 percent of millennials say they’d move out of an apartment that lacks security.

A big part of maintaining those expectations is holding your staff accountable for when and why they can access units. If an employee enters an apartment without permission or proper notice, the resident who lives there will feel like their sense of privacy has been violated.

Case in point: A former tenant of a Washington property complained in a review that his apartment had been entered without permission or written notice three or more different times while he was away from home, and his front door was left unlocked.

1-star review: My apartment was entered at least 3 different times when I was not home and my front door left unlocked.


Having a clear key control policy and keeping accurate key activity records will discourage employees from entering apartments without authorization. In addition, using an electronic key control system that automatically notifies residents when the key to their unit has been removed increases transparency and reduces unwelcome surprises.

If you use smart locks, it’s important to treat security tokens such as fobs and cards with the same level of security you would traditional metal keys. For example, you wouldn’t want to program a token with access to all the units on the property, and you need to control who can use any preprogrammed security tokens.

Minimize Package Theft and Loss


Over the past decade or so, e-commerce sales have steadily grown. In 2018, they accounted for 14.3 percent of total retail sales, up from 13 percent in 2017 and 11.6 percent in 2016. As you’ve probably discovered, what this trend means for multifamily properties is more packages. The average property receives 150 packages a week, and 270 a week during the holiday season.

1-star review: Our packages are getting stolen from our front desk.It should come as no surprise, then, that many property reviews feature complaints about packages being stolen, the office refusing to accept deliveries, or residents not knowing when packages have been delivered to the leasing office.

Package delivery is a sore spot for property managers and there’s no easy solution. Still, it’s essential to maintain resident satisfaction by implementing an efficient package tracking method for logging deliveries. If your system of choice notifies residents via email or text that their packages are ready to be picked up, that's even better.

The National Apartment Association’s white paper “How to Effectively Manage Package Acceptance” includes some further suggestions for addressing package problems.

Safeguard Private Information


The moment a prospect submits a rental application, you have access to a wealth of sensitive information and documents: Social Security number, credit history, pay stubs, etc. Once someone signs a lease and moves in, you also have keys to their mailboxes, which can hold similar sensitive documents.

1-star review: OUR IDENTITY WAS STOLEN. Great job for not safeguarding tenant credit information.Failing to safeguard a resident’s personal information won’t do any favors for your reputation. In a review of a Michigan complex, a woman complained that her and her husband’s identities had been stolen a couple weeks after their rental application was run. She described how a leasing agent was stealing residents’ information, applying for credit in their names, and then retrieving any correspondence related to the thefts from the people’s mailboxes before they received it.

It’s important to implement both cybersecurity and physical security best practices to secure digital records as well as keys to mailboxes and other areas that contain residents’ personal information.

There’s a lot that goes into reputation management. Monitoring and responding to reviews will help you shape your online reputation — but that’s after people have already voiced their opinions. By creating a positive living experience, starting with the three steps mentioned above, you can influence how people talk about your property online and prevent them from rushing to complain about you on review sites and social media.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Customer Tip: Create a Tag Preparation Process

Tags in KeyTrak drawer
Any key control process is only as effective as its users. That extends to simple tasks like preparing key tags for use with your KeyTrak system. To make the process secure and efficient, follow the best practices below:

  • Ensure a designated system administrator or manager is the only person who can access fastening tools. This will prevent keys being removed from or added to the system without authorization. If a key needs to be removed from the key tag, the administrator must be notified to reattach it.
  • Tag keys as soon as possible and put them in the system. The longer you wait to start tracking keys, the more your risk grows.
  • Store tags and fasteners separate from the system. Ideally, keep tagging supplies near a PC where the administrator or manager can access our Web Plus remote software. That way, administrators don’t have to transport tagging supplies back and forth to the KeyTrak system, and they can prepare tags and add new keys to the system without tying up the system.
  • Follow industry best practices for labeling key tags. In certain industries, labeling key tags is acceptable. For example, in the automotive industry, key tags usually include a vehicle’s year, make and model. Generally, however, you should avoid labeling key tags with door numbers or other details about the key. This is especially true for multifamily properties or high-security facilities where a lost key puts someone’s safety at risk.
  • Closely monitor your supply of key tags so you don’t run out. To order more key tags quickly and easily, visit our online supplies catalog.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure your key control process is as effective as possible. For more helpful information about getting the most out of your KeyTrak system, be sure to read some of our other customer tips as well.

Monday, April 8, 2019

How to Prevent Student Worker Security Risks

College student in a dorm room.
Transportation, computer labs, student housing — almost every university offers a wide variety of employment opportunities to students who'd like to earn money and get valuable job experience while they complete their degrees.

Depending on the student worker's role, you trust them with access to heavy vehicles, campus network servers and dorm room keys, among many other sensitive and valuable assets and areas. While this access is critical to the students' ability to do their jobs — and provide a great educational and living experience to their fellow students — a lack of clear security protocols and accountability can leave your university at risk.

What's the Worst That Could Happen to Me?


You likely have handbooks that outline rules, responsibilities and consequences for what happens when student workers fail to meet existing security standards. However, inadequate security practices might mean you won't know there has been a problem with a student worker's access until it's too late.

Consider that one of the biggest security risks for any business is its employees. When it comes to protecting your campus and students, your security protocols can be a matter of the least common denominator — your campus is only as safe as how the lowest-ranking person on your staff treats their access to secure assets and areas. Do you trust a 19-year-old resident assistant (RA) to make the right call on not loaning a friend a master key at 3 a.m. in the middle of midterms?

Your student workers who have access to keys — both physical and electronic — are the gatekeepers to the safety of your other students. Without proper oversight and accountability, even simple mistakes can have dire consequences.

One Texas university learned this lesson the hard way when a man who had been dating an RA allegedly used a master keycard belonging to the RA to access another student's room. Police said the man had intended to commit a sexual assault. The RA was unaware that the keycard had been taken or that the assailant knew her PIN until after the attack happened.

What Can I Do?


Tailored security training should be a priority for every employee — from department deans to student workers — on your campus to equip them with the tools and knowledge required to prevent major security breaches. For example, student workers need to know how to spot potential criminals trying to gain access as well as understand the real-world consequences of losing a key, which affects the safety of their friends and fellow students.

You should also consider a key management system that automatically tracks key and asset access so employees know they'll be held accountable for how their credentials are used. An electronic key control system would help you secure your university's keys while tying access to individual employees. The system you choose should be able to alert higher-level staff when a key is accessed outside normal hours or isn't returned within a given time frame so key use isn't abused either by student workers or somebody close to them.

Protecting the students on your campus is one of your top priorities. But putting too much trust in your student workers without oversight could leave other students vulnerable to theft or assault. What will you do to prevent your student workers from abusing their access privileges?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How Electronic Key Control Can Help Your Service Department Get Reimbursed for Shuttle Rides

As margins on vehicle sales grow tighter, fixed ops is claiming a larger share of dealerships’ gross revenue. In 2018, NADA data showed that fixed ops brought in nearly 50 percent of gross profits.

At the same time, 72 percent of dealers say warranty work due to recalls is higher than it was five years ago. While warranty work is often a source of frustration for service departments, there is one way to maximize warranty revenue that you could be missing out on: reimbursement for courtesy shuttle rides.

Claiming Reimbursement for Shuttle Rides


Some OEMs will reimburse dealerships for courtesy shuttle rides provided to customers with warranty service appointments. GM, for example, will reimburse up to $7.50 each way.*

Let’s assume your OEM reimburses you $5-$7.50 per shuttle ride. It doesn’t seem like much, but consider how much that adds up to depending on the number of shuttle rides you offer:

100 rides/month = $500-$750/month = $6,000-$9,000/year  • 250 rides/month = $1,250-$1,875/month = $15,000-$22,500/year  • 500 rides/month = $2,500-$3,750/month = $30,000-$45,000/year


If you’re already offering shuttle rides that are eligible for reimbursements and you’re not claiming those funds, you’re flushing money down the drain. Of course, how do you request those funds if you don’t have records of all the rides?

Using Electronic Key Control to Help Prevent Unrecorded Rides


You may have a log for tracking shuttle rides, but if someone forgets to update the log, you miss out on an opportunity for reimbursement. If you have an electronic key control system in your service department, you can take advantage of that system to help prevent unrecorded shuttle trips.

When you store the shuttle keys in the system, the driver has to check out keys for each shuttle ride. By requiring the user to enter a reason (e.g., “shuttle ride,” “gas refill,” “service”), you can keep track of when you provided shuttle rides. With this method, you could easily recoup hundreds of dollars each month in unrecorded trips.

By using electronic key control to help you capture potential reimbursement opportunities for shuttle rides, you can make the most of your warranty appointments.

* Reimbursement amounts and guidelines are subject to change. Please check with your OEM for more information about courtesy shuttle transportation reimbursement.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Four-Minute History of Key Control

Keys have undergone quite the transformation over the centuries: wooden beams in ancient Egypt, ornate rings in ancient Rome, oversized iron keys in medieval Europe, five-pin Yale keys invented in the late 1800s (and still in use today) and even no keys at all, with the advent of keyless entry.

Regardless of the form keys take, they’re as valuable as the areas or items they protect. They’re also only as secure as the key owner’s ability to manage who can use them. That’s why key control exists. Take a few minutes to explore how key control has evolved over the centuries.

Key Wearing


In ancient Rome, only the wealthy carried keys, because most people didn’t own anything valuable enough to warrant locking it up. Those who did own valuables stored them in secure boxes and wore bronze keys fashioned as rings on their fingers or on straps or chains around their necks. Wearing keys was a status symbol, much like wearing multiple-carat diamond jewelry is today.

Carrying keys continued to be a privilege belonging to the affluent in medieval Europe, and keys became more elaborate as locksmithing evolved into an art form. Usually made of iron or bronze, keys were as long as 12 inches and featured intricate ornamentation.


Ancient Roman and medieval keys
Ancient Roman and Medieval Keys


Pegboards, Cabinets and Lockboxes


With the Industrial Age, the lock-and-key system went through a series of transformations that made locks more secure and keys smaller and thinner. Unlike the days where only the elite carried keys, average people became key holders.

With more keys in circulation, businesses began formalizing key control. Hotels, for example, used cabinets or wooden panels with hooks for keys, often labeling each key with the number that corresponded to the room. When a key was removed, a manual log book was updated with details such as which key was taken, who it was issued to, when it was removed, when it was returned, etc. Wooden panels later evolved to wall-mounted metal cabinets.


Wooden Key Panel at Ford Dalles Museum
By Steven Pavlov
[CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)],
from Wikimedia Commons
Metal key box
Metal Key Box

Then came the 1960s: a pivotal time in key control history, with two notable key control products being patented. The portable key safe, or lockbox as it’s now called, allowed keys to be stored in a small locked box that was attached to doors of homes for sale or windows of vehicles on dealership lots. Perforated hardboard, or the pegboard, provided an easily installable way to store multiple sets of keys. Both of these key storage methods are still common today.

Lockbox hanging on door
Lockbox
Keys hanging on pegboard
Keys Hanging on Pegboard


Electronic Key Control


As key cabinets and pegboards became commonplace, an entrepreneur noticed that people weren’t always able to maintain control over their keys. Keys went missing, people failed to update (or manipulated) key control records, and businesses spent thousands on rekeying costs.

In 1987, an entrepreneur created an electronic key control system that automatically captured the details of each transaction every time a key was removed. That system was KeyTrak. Today, there are multiple types of electronic key control systems on the market, including vending-machine-style systems, PC-based systems tied to electronic metal drawers, and wall-mounted panels. Some systems, however, still require manual steps, such as scanning a key tag, that are vulnerable to human error.

Open key control system drawer
Electronic Key Control System

Keyless Entry


In the 1970s, an inventor created a lock using a programmable key card — no metal key required. Today, keyless entry systems, also called smart locks, allow people to manage access to their buildings or assets with fobs, smartphones, fingerprints and codes entered on keypads.

Businesses are adopting smart locks for key benefits such as the ability to grant access remotely, disable an individual’s access without having to collect a key or rekey locks, and create an audit trail of door access. Security professionals are divided in their opinions on the safety of keyless door locks, so some businesses still choose to use traditional locks or a combination of traditional and keyless locks.

Smart lock
Smart Lock


Throughout the history of key control, one thing has never changed (and never will): the need for human accountability. No matter what form of access control you use, make sure you have a reliable system to track who can enter restricted areas and handle valuable assets so you answer the question "Do you know where your keys are?"