The International Foundation for Protection Officers recently conducted this short interview with Evan Gillespie, CPO, SSMP, where, in his own words, he discusses the benefits of an IFPO certification:
-- When did you start your career in security and what motivated you to do so?
I started my security career in 2009 during my freshman year of college. I was looking for a job that would provide relevant experience while pursuing my Bachelor’s degree and I was able to land a flexible part-time security position.
-- Describe your first security job -- location, tasks, etc. How about now, what is your current job?
I was a retail loss prevention agent for a major retail anchor store at a shopping mall in York, Pennsylvania. My main responsibilities were to apprehend shoplifters by way of walking the sales floor in plainclothes and observing shoplifting activity, as well as by monitoring closed-circuit camera monitors. I also had many ancillary responsibilities, to include conducting shrink (loss) and safety-related audits every month, responding to safety incidents in the store, writing incident reports, and testifying in court. It was a very multifaceted job that not only gave me security experience, but also experience in the realms of safety and emergency response. I built a working relationship with mall security and local law enforcement as well.
After working in retail loss prevention, spending a summer as a police officer at a popular beach resort city, and working in hospital security, I began working as an armed security officer at a nuclear power station where I have been for going on 8 years. Every industry is a little different in its approach to security as the needs of the business and the threat landscape differs, however with every job I had leading up to my current one I was able to take something valuable away from, be it communication skills, report writing, or some type of special training.
-- How did you first become aware of the IFPO and its certifications? What convinced you to pursue an IFPO certification?
My academic advisor and professor (now retired) at York College of Pennsylvania, Chris Hertig, was always informing me of ways to boost my professional credentials, the IFPO being one of the most notable in the industry. IFPO in addition to ASIS International are widely recognized as the gold standard for professional development among professionals in the security industry.
-- What certification did you achieve and what year was that?
In 2013 I achieved my Certified Protection Officer (CPO) certification, and in 2015 I completed the Security Supervision and Management Program (SSMP).
-- How did your IFPO certification enhance your career?
IFPO certifications and the process I underwent to achieve them taught me the value of continuing education and professional development. In addition to the certifications, I have also strengthened my professional network through being a member of the organization. Just having the textbooks and study materials alone provided a wealth of knowledge from industry leaders that encompasses every facet of working in this field. While it did not directly benefit me in the financial sense, it made me a more well-rounded officer and steward of my organization, and it also inspired me to go back to school and pursue my Master’s degree. Several of my coworkers have also showed interest in pursuing certifications and professional development after learning of what IFPO can offer.
-- What would your advice be to those who might be considering an IFPO certification?
The security industry needs sharp people, who are educated and know their stuff, and these certifications make you stand out among the crowd, especially if you are looking to get into something specialized or into a management position. It shows you make the extra effort to be successful at what you do. The security industry is shedding the ‘mall cop’ days of its past in the wake of new threats, especially post-9/11 and in the wake of cyber-security and intelligence issues taking over the threat landscape. Security is a very complex and dynamic field that encompasses every industry, from retail, to banking, to healthcare, to utilities. Pursuing an IFPO certification will help prevent your skill set from becoming stagnant, which in an industry that changes as rapidly as this one you can’t afford to have if you want to succeed.
The International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) is dedicated to providing meaningful and cost effective security training for security guards and protection officers.
We believe that education is a necessary and essential part of professional security training and the security officer’s background. IFPO serves individuals, security companies, and organizations that have their own private security staff. Our students and members benefit from the recognition and standing that the prestigious IFPO certification conveys.
International Foundation for Protection Officers Mission Statement
Mission Statement Part I.
The International Foundation for Protection Officers provides professional learning opportunities for security practitioners, to impart the knowledge, skills, and competencies required to maximize job performance and enhance career potential.
Purpose: to make a positive difference in the quality of the participant’s job performance and elevate the professional status of students who partake of our learning opportunities.
Business: to supply committed security practitioners with a quality education to help achieve their highest potential and provide recognized accreditation for successful completion of educational goals.
Values: commitment, integrity, responsibility, and standards of excellence, provide the platform that supports our journey as we pursue our mission.
Commitment to Excellence: To be the recognized center of excellence and primary provider of education and training products and services to the security industry.
Mission Statement Part II.
“The International Foundation for Protection Officers is committed to the support and professional development of protection officers and supervisors. Through advocacy, promoting training standards, and providing accessible training, education and certification opportunities, we seek to enhance their professional standing as well as increase and diversify the value of the vital services they provide.”