When private security establishes a presence in a Chicago area community—especially with utility companies, whose engineers are always at work on neighborhood infrastructure—a security company always has two choices: to either come in as an outside force that provides protection or initiate security guard services with the overall community in mind.

At least that’s how the vast majority of companies think of it. At AGB Investigative Services, we’ve chosen a third way that’s one-of-a-kind and integral to everything we do: we provide community security solutions by hiring from within the areas we serve.

We’ve always believed that security guard training should be more than a series of learned procedures. Utility companies depend on us to provide security services but it’s up to us to find innovative ways to contribute to community safety. We’ve done that, and we’re proud of the solution we’ve created.

Community Hiring Builds Trust and Opportunity

When you hire from within the community, the advantages become obvious right away. For starters, the officers are immediately comfortable working there. And thanks to their established relationships with neighbors and merchants, we find it’s like gaining extra sets of eyes and deeper insight. They know their neighborhoods intimately and help us observe it.

As for security officer training, this is our chance to contribute not only to a community’s safety but also its prosperity. We give our new hires opportunities they were never exposed to before. Training is a high priority for AGB and outstanding candidates have a clear path to become supervisors. We believe in teaching, coaching and helping people advance.

To that end, we take extra care to let utility companies and the other companies we serve know that we’re not the Chicago Police. Private security officers are not enforcers. Governments grant police officers specific powers to apply a set of rules and laws, and as a result their approach is much different.

Patrol Presence Strengthens Community Safety

Whether we’re on patrol at a major utility facility or at a worksite where there’s a downed pole or underground activity, our job is to observe, report and step in if we need to. We ensure safety and provide peace of mind through our presence. That not only helps utility workers do their jobs better, it also serves as a source of pride for the AGB security professionals who protect the areas they live in. They become more than just guards. They are guardians.

The flip side of that coin involves what they’ve always been able to readily access: the local residents. We will always stress that our private security personnel come from the neighborhoods we work in. We’ve found numerous times that before the police or media know about an incident, we hear it from the people in the neighborhood. And they’ll only tell you if they trust you. They rely on us to do the right thing; we honor them by doing it. And on it goes, day in and day out. A utility company or another company may not know right away that this is how we work. But once they learn about it, they understand that nothing compares to leveraging the years and decades one of our guards has already spent on the scene before their very first patrol or incident call.

One more thing: AGB stands for always giving back. It’s a positive statement to be sure, but much more. We back it up with action, every day with every patrol, and every interaction we have with the utilities and communities we serve. I can’t think of any better way to do that than through hiring from within. It puts us a step ahead not only in terms of the neighborhood trust factor, but also shows how much faith we place in helping to grow and nurture the people who call our patrol areas home.

Alicia Harper is AGB’s Director of Operations.