Security Systems Advice

Better Security Systems — Protecting Your Business

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In addition to the “For Businesses” section of our General Safety Advice, businesses should seriously consider installing qualified security systems.

  • Partner with a well-qualified security company to evaluate your needs and select quality equipment for your project. While do-it-yourself kits may be cheaper and seem wise, there is no substitute for the expertise that is gained by someone that does this every day and is well trained.
  • A licensed security system company will normally provide you with a better CCTV installation that also complies with electrical codes and industry standards. Always report camera modifications to your insurance company for potential savings.
  • Always use color cameras. The cost is only slightly more than B&W cameras, but knowing what color clothes they were wearing provides crucial evidence to law enforcement.
  • Always use cameras within dome housings to conceal which direction they are pointing. High quality mini-dome cameras are ideal for many applications. The less certain the bad guy is about what the cameras can see, the more uncomfortable he will feel, and the less likely he is to act. Vandal-resistant housings are also a wise investment.
  • Don’t use videotape recorders as part of your system. This is a technology more than 40 years old that has huge shortcomings and have disappointed buyers and law enforcement thousands of times. Digital video recorders (DVRs) are far more reliable, provide much better images, and cost less overall.
  • Be certain your DVR has duplex operation, not simplex. Duplex allows you to review recorded images while the unit continues to record. Simplex units stop recording when you are reviewing, which was also one of the major shortcomings of videotape recorders.
  • DVR units normally record at least one image per second per camera, and should be configured for at least four images per second per camera. Higher recording speeds provide better evidence.
  • Always conceal the location of the digital video recorder, and preferably locate it in locked enclosure or closet. A recording unit that leaves with the bad guy is of no use to anyone.
  • Don’t try to get by with a minimum number of cameras, and understand what coverage a camera can and can’t give you. Far too often, a single camera is used to cover too large of an area, and by the time it is recorded and played back on a screen — the pictures are far too small to identify anyone.
  • The more cameras you use, the more angles you will get of the perpetrator, and the better chance you will have of getting a picture that is worthwhile as evidence. Eye-level cameras at doors or entry windows give the best identification images. If cameras can be installed in entry doors, you will normally get the best facial imagery possible.
  • Consider partnering with a security company that provides remote (and offer interactive) video observation services. This allows them to observe events and provide law enforcement information about the event, such as updates of hold-up situations, and/or descriptions of people so that officers are best prepared for what they are responding to.
  • Try to take advantage of cash register interface options that some DVRs now offer. These features allow you to increase the benefit of your investment by searching the cash register data linked to recorded events. This kind of information is also crucial as evidence for our investigation of employee theft.
  • Your DVR should also allow recorded events to be burned to a CD-ROM, DVD, or USB, or emailed to law enforcement to assist in the investigation and prosecution process.

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