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Corporate Security/Crime Control

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by Jan K. Allen

SBJ Contributing Writer

Office complex owners are becoming increasingly aware of the need for security measures, according to Len Pense, owner of Dynamark Security Centers.

"It's more and more apparent to business owners they must have some sort of security system in place today," Pense said.

Many public buildings now have surveillance cameras, electronic door locks and panic buttons placed at strategic locations, and some have a guard on duty, as well, during business hours, Pense said.

Industrial complexes have historically had tight entry control, Pense said. Commercial complexes are moving in that direction.

Electronic equipment is getting more affordable all the time. In Springfield, there is talk of making individual transmitters available to the general public, connected to the 911 system, Pense said.

Dynamark already has this system in place for one of its commercial customers. The small, inconspicuous device can be placed on a key chain or worn on the user's clothing.

When activated, the unit alerts the security company and pinpoints the location of the user.

The system, including use of the transmitter, costs about $100 per year. It can accommodate up to 65 million users.

Many businesses don't think of adding security to their budget until something happens, according to Shirley Wheeler, corporate manager for Midwest Security Inc.

The only way to ensure employee safety is with an on-site security person, Wheeler said. But most offices don't have guards on duty during business hours, she added.

Many high-risk businesses, such as banks, have a guard force in combination with electronic systems, but office complexes are less inclined to include sophisticated equipment and manpower in their budgets.

"It will come eventually, as Springfield keeps growing," Wheeler said.

Rod Troutz, area selling manager for ADT Security Systems, said the time is already here.

"Any public building is at risk," Troutz said.

Most bigger office buildings have some type of security system, and about 50 percent to 60 percent of smaller businesses maintain systems, he said.

Government complexes have become especially wary since the Oklahoma bombing. All federal buildings have gotten tighter in their security, Troutz stated.

ADT provides equipment maintenance and training for the staff in buildings where its systems are installed.

The No. 1 cause of false alarms is user error, Troutz said. The company works with building managers, who pass the training program along to tenants, to avoid problems with usage.

Troutz also said that parking-lot surveillance is becoming more prevalent for larger complexes. It is not only a good safety measure, but helps the liability factor, he said.

Corporate Centre takes security seriously and offers 24-hour security service to its tenants, according to Glen Alexander, property manager for the complex.

Electronic surveillance is combined with an on-duty guard, which the leasing office will dispatch if a problem arises, Alexander said.

"We evaluate the system periodically and see if we're up with the times," Alexander said.

He indicated the company surveys tenants each time it looks at the system to provide feedback for the evaluation.

"Today's tenant needs are different than they used to be. The world is changing, and things are happening," he said.

Rick Walker, leasing manager for Plaza Towers, said he feels security in commercial complexes is lagging behind industrial buildings, but added that security measures are becoming more common in business.

The '90s is a fair time frame for increased concern, Walker said. The biggest challenge to date in his building is vandalism.

Plaza Towers has electronic surveillance and a night guard. Tenants can call the leasing offices in the daytime and the security guard in the evening if a problem arises.

Despite the risk to property, people protection is the priority at the towers, according to Walker.

"If you concentrate on people protection, facility protection naturally falls in behind it," he said.

More and more businesses are hom-

ing in on the need to be watchful, Pense said.

Since every business is different, companies that do not have systems in place should have surveys made to determine their individual risk factors and needs, Pense said.

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