Important Message From Steve Keller
Well over a year ago, I was approached by several colleagues about the lack of adequate training for museum security officers and supervisors. My generation of museum security managers made great improvements in how museums are protected, but the one area that we have made little progress in is in developing a comprehensive, affordable, training program for museum security officers. I met a second time with this group of colleagues to see what they envision in a training program and they provided me with a long list of features that such a program should have. This is what they said that they wanted in a basic museum security officer training program:
· The program has to be low cost per student so that even the smallest museum can afford it.
· Access to the training must be through a museum security program, contract security provider, insurance company, or other trusted entity. Individuals wishing to hone their skills as museum thieves should not have access to this information independently.
· It has to be comprehensive, covering the widest range of topics.
· It has to include the best practices in adult learning.
· There should be no upfront costs for the museum such as software or books to buy and maintain.
· It should not require travel to a training venue for a guard level employee.
· Visually, the program should depict museums of all types—art, science, children's, natural history, etc. so that security officers taking the course can directly relate.
· The instructors need to be racially, ethnically, and gender diverse reflecting the workforce and museum visitors. Segments pertaining to the disabled should use disabled instructors and the disabled should contribute to the content with their first hand understanding of the problems that exist for them in a museum setting.
· The reading level needs to respect the fact that for many of our security officers, English is a second language, so when practical, the material should be presented with instructor voice over to assure a thorough understanding of the material.
· There needs to be sub-titles for the hearing impaired. While we rarely hire deaf security officers, many smaller museums do hire elderly people who function as security in the galleries.
· The program should be computer-based and interactive so that the trainee is constantly engaged. Keeping the security officer engaged and interested in the materials was deemed to be critical.
· The student should be able to take the course online using any type of computer such as a phone, tablet, or PC using any operating system. Ideally, the material should be optimized for use on a tablet such as an iPad or inexpensive Android that costs less than $150 so the museum can afford to economically deliver the training to their officers and supervisors.
· The program should lead to certification and the student should be sent a certificate by the software itself with no administrative burden on the security director. The certification should be motivating for the trainee so that they seek further training with enthusiasm.
· The program should address the issue of having to provide proof that the employee was trained, who the employee was trained by, the qualifications of the instructor, and the qualifications of the authors of the program to defend the museum against accusations that training was inconsistent or inadequate. It was agreed that the program itself must maintain records of all training with no administrative burden on the security manager.
· Involvement by the director of security, supervisor, or training manager should not exceed three minutes per student to enroll a student into the course. Every effort should be made to minimize any involvement by the security managers and supervisors who are already overworked.
· The security manager should have a private dashboard through which he or she can monitor their student's progress, and students should be able to take the course at their own pace or the pace assigned by the manager. Simply sign out and resume later.
· The program should have high quality content written by highly qualified museum security professionals. It should pass along to the new generation the collective knowledge of the experienced generation through creative presentation of scenarios and case studies.
· The program should simply not consist of a series of videos. True engagement requires variety of presentation formats. When video is used it should be in high definition except, of course, for historic file footage used to discuss fires and thefts in museums.
· The program should be suitable for both proprietary and contract security forces.
· The program should be standards compliant. Procedures and methods shown should conform to the “Recommended Guidelines for Museum Security,” all codes and standards, and current best practices.
· The program must be easily and quickly updated as the threat or the countermeasure change. Preferably, it should be possible to update topics within 24 hours and automatically notify the security director that the revised module is available for all to take at no extra cost.
Last week at the New England Museum Association conference in Portland, Maine, I announced the formation of Museum Training Resources, Inc. a company devoted to creating high quality training programs for the museum community. At that conference we introduced to the world MuseumDefendertm Basic Museum Security Officer Training Program which contains all of the above features and more. It is an online, interactive, computer-based program that can be taken at the trainee's own pace on any type of device using any operating systen. It takes the security manager just three minutes to enroll a student and upon completion the course and passing the test, the computer generates a certificate with no administrative burden on the manager whatsoever. The course has thirty modules, each a separate topic. The typical student can complete the course in three half day sessions.
This program is priced so that even the smallest museum can afford to use it to train all of their security officers and supervisors. If you are a Director of Security for a museum in the U.S. and would like to see this course in action, I will give you, free of charge, one ticket to participate and become certified. I am convinced that once you see the program in action you will want to use it to train all of your security officers.
We have several more programs we will roll out over the next 90 days and still more through 2024.
Please email me at Steve@MuseumTrainingResources.com and tell me your name, title, museum, and contact information and I will see that you receive a Username and Password to take the course totally free.