Interview with a Private Security Mogul
By Johnny Sans aka 'Mr. Code 33' - March 2013
Company: California Private Patrol, www.privatepatrol.us
With hundreds of Private Security Guard Companies out there, which one do you choose? Which one is the best? Who can you trust? Which ones are Pro-Active? Do I need an armed or unarmed guard? What about pricing? Well, I will be covering all that and more in this article. We get plenty of emails and a lot of requests about how to choose the right Security Guard Company, and although it may seem like a fairly simple question to answer, it's not. So I wrote this article with hopes on alleviating some of the daunting tasks, decisions, and challenges you may face when choosing the right company. Plus I have a special interview with an up and coming Private Security Mogul in the making - The CEO of California Private Patrol, Philip Carvalho!
Ok, so let's get on with the show. If you want to skip ahead and come back to the interview later, you can read my article and suggestions on choosing the right private security company. Just click here << Choosing the right Private Security Service >>
The Interview (part 1)
Outside is a cold misty Saturday afternoon in San Francisco, but I'm seated in the passenger seat of a warm Ford Crown Victoria P71 Police Interceptor next to the driver, Philip Carvalho, who is the CEO of California Private Patrol. He's dressed in an all dark navy blue class A uniform with a Glock 9MM to his side. He's sharp, observant, and very aware of every inch of his surroundings. He carries a calm cool demeanor, is polished and professional, but bares an edgy look to him as he sports a trendy hair style and a thin tapered goatee that outlines his sharp jaw-line. The first impression you get, is that this is someone who has more than just street knowledge. He's definitely someone who knows what he's doing and doesn't seem like your ordinary security officer. But what is it about him that gives off this impression? I know, he's some type of cop! Well, as you continue to read on, you'll see that I was only partially right.
Q. So what is your Law Enforcement or Security related background and or experience?
A. I began my first job as a security officer in 1986 and was given a fixed post assignment at a construction site. I remember it sucked and I hated the graveyard hours. I had always wanted to become a police officer, so I figured security work was a way to get my feet wet, but I really hated it and it was boring. I worked for about 3 months and then quit. I Then enrolled in City College where I majored in Administration of Justice and Minored in Computer Science.
Going to school lasted for about a year until the beginning of 1987. I was bored of school and couldn't stop thinking about become a police officer, so I quit and quickly began working for another security company. This was a much better job and I was primarily assigned to work special events at the Moscone center. That was a pretty cool job because I interacted with a lot of people, and got to work some pretty cool events. About 3 months later, while working one of the events, I met up with a couple of San Francisco Police Officers who I quickly engaged in conversation with. After small talking a little, believe it or not, they both offered me a job to come work for them doing loss prevention at a couple of their stores where they ran the security off duty. I quickly accepted and quit my current job. Within days I was working undercover, making busts left and right, and getting paid twice as much to do it. I was immediately hooked and knew that undercover work was were I wanted to be. I was having so much fun in loss prevention, but I ultimately still wanted to be a police officer. Shortly after, by the end of 1988, I put myself through a Regional Police Academy in San Francisco. I then graduated in May of 1989 but didn't immediately find any Police Departments that were hiring. There seemed to be a hiring freeze for Police Officers around the entire Bay Area at that time. So for nearly 2 years I bounced around working different security jobs. I was running out of time on my P.O.S.T. certificate, with only 1 year left before expiration, when suddenly the San Francisco Police Department began hiring. I quickly filled out an application, went through all their testing, a lengthy background investigation, and in 1991 I was hired by the San Francisco Police Department. Seven years later, after hundreds of arrests, numerous captain accomodations, legendary narcotics stings, and a justified shooting, I ended up working for the department of defense - and the rest was history! (laughs and shrugs his shoulders)
Q. So is it safe to say that you have roughly 25+ years of combined Law Enforcement and Security related experience?
A. What I've seen, done, and been through, it seems more like 50. But yes, 25 years sounds about right.
Q. What else do you have in your arsenal?
A. I'm also a computer programmer, a super geek, and am still very well connected to the Law Enforcement community. I am also involved in the development of Security Guard related software.
Q. Can you expand a little bit more about this Security Guard Software?
A. Sure, let me explain. As a police officer, you have access to local, state and federal databases that enable you to conduct computer searches of suspects, vehicles, and missing persons. A couple of these systems are C.L.E.T.S and N.C.I.C. Both enable you to conduct computer searches of suspects and vehicles in hopes of gaining additional information and or obtaining photos. These systems help with identifying unknown persons and vehicles. They also help immensely with conducting investigations, identifying suspects, enhancing police reports, and equipping officers with valuable knowledge. The problem is that these systems are only available to authorized law enforcement personnel.
As I ventured more into the business side of the security business, I realized how valuable it would be for security officers to have access to such systems, but there wasn't anything available on the market even remotely close that they could use. Most security companies keep local spread sheets of arrests or suspects that they have come into contact with, but most are poorly kept and nothing is standardized. Some companies still jot down information by pen on field interview cards, and then keep them back at the office in some filing cabinet. The problem with those methods is that the information is not readily accessible by the officers at any given moment. You cannot look up information about a previous arrest, or a suspect, if the spreadsheet is back at the office in San Jose and you're working in San Francisco. There are however, a couple of public safety related software solutions that some smaller departments use that do a nice job, but the software is only installable on a local computer system and will set you back a whopping $100,000 or more just to implement them.
So with my own programming knowledge, and of using such systems like C.L.E.T.S. and N.C.I.C., I decided to start building my own database system. It was a long time in the making, but after a few months of Starbucks fueled 15 hour programming days, SUSPECTINFO.com was born. The system is a hybrid of social networking meets C.L.E.T.S. and N.C.I.C. It allows security officers to store, search, retrieve, and print suspect and vehicle information. It also allows officers to store, search, retrieve, and print "courtesy reports", attatch evidence, photos, and even documents. What's even more cool, is it also has the ability to track officer's reports and crime trends! What sets this web based program apart from all of the others, is that each individual security company has the ability to share their suspect database with other security companies around the world!
My sole intention while developing this system, was to bridge law enforcement with the private security community, and give security companies and their officers a professional law enforcement styled tool to use that is both valuable and expandable.
Q. I can't believe you developed this by yourself, but it sounds awesome and just what the security industry needs.
A. It's still in a beta testing phase and should be available to the public any day now, but yeah it was tough to do by myself because I'm no Mark Zuckerberg (laughs)! But I had so much fun developing it and I actually learned a lot more programming techniques along the way too.
Q. Anything else in the works?
A. Absolutely! While developing Suspectinfo.com so many other useful tools and ideas came to mind. So once I was initially finished with the project, I took a little break to recharge my mental batteries, and then I began working on a Web based Daily Activity Reporting System which allows security officers to digitally write, track, and retrieve their daily activity reports. What's really cool about this system is that I really put focus on the client aspect of things and geared everything towards that. The program not only allows the officers to login and create reports, but it also allows the client to login and view the officer's daily activity reports being written in "Near Real-Time"! The client also has the ability to view any crime or hazard alerts that pertain to their property, search/view/print any daily activity report, view profiles of the officers that patrol their properties, and the ability to manage their own personal profile including their password.
I am also developing a "Parking" tracking system too that allows officers, apartment complexes, HOA's etc, to view/track/tow/ticket vehicles which are in violation of any property set policy. This system is also web based and is highly geared with the client in mind. Both of these systems are in their final testing phases and should roll out by May 2013.
Q. Wow, sounds like you have your hands full! What about pricing for these systems?
A. Well, I'm trying to be fair to everyone and my goal really is to help create, shape, and guide the current security industry to become more streamlined, efficient, and respected within the law enforcement community. For a long time, and still to this day, there has been a dark cloud hovering over the private security industry with a negative stigma about security officers. I'm hoping to one day change that, or at least help shape it. So in order to create a standard for security companies and officers using these systems, I had to make it affordable so that everyone will use them. So I've decided to release all of them with FREE versions that they can use until their hearts are content. Restrictions do apply and not just anyone can use them. You have to go through an approval and verification process to prove who you are, your purpose of using the system, and to be held accountable for using these programs. This is all done to build a successful and professional private security based community that will become a model for others to follow. Like I said, I'm in the final testing phases, but anyone interested can goto BLACKHAWK911.com and find out more about these programs and when they will become available.
Q. I'm sure you have more up your sleeve, because you're smiling, but we'll leave that to surprise. Let's talk about why you left Law Enforcement and decided to enter the Private Security Business.
Carvalho gets up and takes a peek out the window. Then walks over to me and whispers in my ear, "It's a secret. I don't want any blacked out blazers pulling up and jacking you if I give up that information." He has a smirk on his face and is hard to tell if he's joking, but he then calmly sat back down, pulled out a black e-cig and took a puff. Before I could comment he said, "It's grape flavored and has no nicotine. I just like the taste." We both laughed as I continued on with the interview.
A. All jokes aside Johnny, my Law Enforcement days have brought me many happy and sad memories, and I'll admit that it didn't conclude the way I would've wanted it to, but let's just say that you cannot always believe what you read or hear. The media sometimes has a way of distorting the truth to make a story appear more interesting. I love Law Enforcement, and as a matter of fact, I went back to the academy in 2007, took some advanced classes, and recertified my P.O.S.T. I'm actually thinking of extending my training and doing it again. I have my eyes set on some secretive training to build my arsenal (laughs and does a bruce lee styled move). You can never have too much training.
Oh, I almost forgot to answer your question as to why I decided to enter the Private Security Business. Well actually it was just a matter of time. I think eventually all ex-cops become involved in the security industry in some way or another. It's just in our blood. I actually have been thinking about it for quite some time, but never really took that extra step towards it because I was still on the fense whether or not to go back into police work. Obviously I took that step. The deciding factor for me was, not only did I want to build an independant future for my family, but I didn't like the way the security industry was straying farther and farther away from technology, the law enforcement community, and a strong customer relationship with their clients. I wanted to become more involved and be part of something that I loved, believed in, and could ultimately impact and change.
Q. So let's talk about some of those changes and what you plan to do.
A. I can literally write a book on what I'd like to change and accomplish within the private security industry, but basically I'd like to see the law enforcement community work more closely with the security community. On one end you have the "Safety" of the Community, and on the other end you have the "Citizen's" of that community. Both, law enforcement and security officers, act as "Bridges" between the two ends, but yet neither of them work together to strengthen that bridge? I understand the stigma law enforcement has against security officers, because I too fell into that mind set at one point, but in hindsight there were many times that we've obtained valuable information from them to help solve crimes and capture criminals. There really just needs to be some stricter standards set into place for training, conduct, and community relations, and committees need to be assigned to oversee and regulate those standards. I'd also like to see some sort of communication bridge between the two technologies as well. That would be a nice start.
Q. Before I begin to wrap this interview up, tell me why people should choose your company over others, what sets you apart, and what your secret ingedients are to success in the private security industry?
A. Wow, I can't believe you asked me all that in one breath (laughs). I really don't want to sound like a salesman here, because I don't use sales pitches or anything like that when promoting the company. When people read about me or my company, it sort of just sells itself, and I like that because people are making an educated choice and decision on their own without any pushy influence.
Why should people choose California Private Patrol over other security companies?
A. What makes us different is that California Private Patrol is more than just a security guard company. we are also involved in the development of public safety software, promoting green practices, giving back to the communities we serve by donating items, clothing and sometimes even our services. We also keep strong communication ties within the law enforcement community to learn from and to help build a stronger relationship between the private security community. We also try to stay ahead of the curve by infusing tomorrows technology with what we are involved in today. This allows us to streamline communications and to deliver excellent customer service.
What sets us apart?
A. How about our unique toll free number for starters (855) CRIME-11. Sorry I had to plug that (laughs). Seriously, there are a host of things that sets us apart from other security companies, but one of the first thing you will notice, if you go to our website, is that we have one of the fastest "quote request" systems around. If you submit a quote request via our website, you are guaranteed to receive a quote within 4 hours from a real person. We do not use an automated system. We keep a very tight knit group of highly skilled and trained employees, most of which are current, former, and academy trained police officers. We have more than just your average security guard. Other things that sets us apart are our own proprietary web based software solutions which deliver professional law enforcement styled tools to the officers and to our clients. We are also a very proactive company in which our officers do more than just observe and report - we engage suspects and make arrests. Our focus is also very highly customer oriented, and we really infuse that with all of our security services, and the software we develop. Customer service is our real stronghold, and is an area in which we have real world experience in.
What are the secret ingredients to success in the private security industry?
A. I can only speak of what I believe it takes to be successful in this industry, and how we model our company. First and foremost your main focus should be customer service oriented. You need to understand that clients are not only just looking for security guards to deter crime, they also need to be informed of any hazards that may exist or pose potential threats to their property or employees. You need to provide "safety" as well as "security". You also need to build a relationship and trust with your clients to ensure them that your officers are performing their duties with competency and honesty. Don't just do what you've been contracted to do. You need to go above and beyond what is expected, and provide a service anything unlike another. Just think about what you would expect if you were the client, and then go beyond that. You also need to keep and maintain open communication with your clients, and allow them to make comments and suggestions. Keep your officers well trained, up to date on new laws, new technologies, and new training techniques. You also need well structured and educated management who are capable of providing proper supervision to the officers in the field. Lastly, and probably the most important key ingredient, is transparency! Transparency allows you to openly communicate with your clients, and allows them to feel more connected and informed about the security services you are providing to them.
At this time we took a break and grabbed some sushi. I continued to interview Carvalho for an hour more, and dug up some pretty intersting and cool stuff that i know everyone will want to read! So be sure to check back later for Part 2 of my interview with Philip Carvalho of California Private Patrol!