A Guide to Using the CPO Program as a Method of Organizational Development
Andrew Rossetti, CPO
INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR PROTECTION OFFICERS
Security is a rapidly evolving industry. As the needs of business and industry grow, so do the responsibilities of the private security officer. With this increase in responsibility there is a growing demand for responsible, well-trained personnel to fulfill security and safety needs.
The security officer of today is responsible for:
- Relations with employees, clients and the public.
- Physical security
- Fire Protection
- Access control of both persons and packages
- Employee theft prevention
- Developing and initiating emergency plans
- Traffic control
- Crowd Management
These responsibilities are very important and they must be performed with the minimum degree of error. It is for these needs that the Certified Protection Officer program was designed. The CPO course was created by the International Foundation of Protection Officers in 1988 to provide "current, useful, consolidated Security Training Manual that provides vital 'need to know' information for Protection Officers throughout the Security Industry." The CPO training involves the Professional Protection Officer Training Manual, which consists of 30 plus chapters, each dealing with a separate topic that is essential to the efficient functioning of a security officer. Each chapter is followed by summary questions. There is an open book, unsupervised midterm and a proctored final exam. If the final exam is completed within one year of the student's enrollment within the course and they have obtained a score of 70% or greater then they have earned the title of Certified Protection Officer.
The benefits gained to the employer and the employee are immeasurable. For the employer the knowledge that they have an effective, well trained and skilled security force that, when needed, will be able to respond to challenging situations with competence and professionalism is one less worry. The employee gains the benefits of a higher level of training at low cost, confidence in his skills, the performance of his job, and an internationally recognized title to associate himself with.
CPO training is easy to implement and is applicable in many diverse employment settings. The training offered is useful in hospital, campus, and contract security as well as public law enforcement, private investigation, hotel, retail, nuclear, or park security. One of the biggest benefits of the CPO program is the way that the employer can implement the training program. The CPO designation can be applied in organizations in the following ways:
- As a condition of employment.
- As a condition of retention.
- To designate different levels of rank.
- For promotions to supervisors
- For promotion to Investigator, Crimes Prevention Officer or Physical Security Specialist
One of the most important facets of the CPO training program is motivation by the employee. Although the CPO training is of great benefit to the employee, it is still extra work and the employee may want and deserve some type of recognition for his accomplishments. This may be accomplished in a myriad of different ways. Many of these different ideas can be implemented at a low cost and can reap motivational benefits in and of themselves. Some simple ways to motivate employees are:
- Extra days off for employees upon completion of the CPO program.
- Awards of merit (plaques, certificates, posted photographs).
- Pay raises.
- Cash bonus for completing the CPO program.
- Recognition through a company memo, newspaper or announcement.
- A promotion in rank or position for successful CPO candidates.
Training for CPO completion can be accomplished in many different ways:
- During initial hiring / training
- During weekly / monthly meeting
- Utilizing off-hours study groups
- Set classroom time
- During coffee / lunch breaks
- While on Post via computer
The first tool that one must have to begin the training for the CPO is the Protection Officer Training Manual published by Butterworth /Heinemann. This is a necessity to all who desire to participate. It provides the basis to the program. Once every student has obtained a copy of the manual, a teaching / learning format best suited for employees should be selected.
A classroom learning environment should be chosen. It should be free from distractions (visual or audible), comfortable enough that one can relax yet not fall asleep or lose focus, have ample lighting and is able to accommodate learning aids. Learning environments could be; school classrooms, meeting rooms, or living rooms of an employee's home.
In the course of classroom instruction visual learning aids should be used. Easels, tripods, projectors, slides, and videotapes are just some of the different mediums that can be employed. These help to compliment the information that is learned from the manual and help to reinforce what has been learned. Creating scenarios to be dealt with on lessons previously learned is another good way for both employees to use what they have learned and for the instructors to evaluate learning. This also allows the learning to be tailored to an individual environment.
Another consideration that needs to be taken into account is time. Schedule the class at a time that is convenient for all involved if possible. Take into account personal time, vacations, and days off those employees may have coming. When the classes are scheduled, do not schedule them to be overbearingly long or too short so that nothing can be effectively accomplished. Take into consideration that during long class sessions coffee breaks or time off for meals may be necessary to ensure that students remain alert and in a positive mood. Making a class too strict and unfriendly may turn employees away. This in no way means that the class should be a party! For the best results be fair and sensitive to the attitudes and needs of the employees. This type of approach will help to facilitate the learning process and expedite the graduation of employees from the program.
Don't forget classroom supervision is not always necessary! That is what makes the CPO program so versatile and cost effective. It can be done at home during the candidate's spare time or during coffee breaks at work. It provides the candidate with a multitude of possibilities. Let your employees do it on their own time and hand in progress reports on how far they have progressed. Set up a tentative time line for completion for the mid-term and final exam. Every two weeks or so have the candidate submit a report on his progress and discuss what they've learned so far.
If this approach is used, encourage employees to meet outside of work in informal settings (a place where everyone can agree upon and work in).
Even the most dedicated employees may find it difficult to find time outside of work to devote to the program but a little peer pressure towards completing the CPO goes a long way to keep everyone on track.
An additional approach is to hold voluntary classes on Saturdays. An interesting topic such as Investigation, Bomb threats, or Executive Protection as covered in the Protection Officer Training Manual. This can be supplemented with additional material. This will help to provide a stimulating learning session. With lunch provided and a certificate award, these sessions will help promote learning outside of work.
One thing to stress is that the CPO designation is not just another job requirement. It is a designation that they should be proud of. Make them aware of that! Present it to them as something they'll want to do not something that they have to do. You will find that most people with a little encouragement will welcome the chance to obtain their CPO.
Another point to consider is example. Set an example to your subordinates by certifying as a CPO yourself. Let them know through your experiences how rewarding it can be. This also allows you to answer any questions that they may come across while studying for their CPO.
The key to a candidate successfully obtaining the CPO designation is the first step toward a better trained and confident security force as well as more peace of mind for employees and managers alike.