These guidelines can be modified as you deem appropriate for your facility, however I recommend two people are present for each opening and closing since this is a most vulnerable time period for employees.
This policy can also be applied for any facility. A few years ago, a local bank president was accosted by two robbers as he opened a branch bank at around 0700 hours. After reading about it in the paper I shared this policy with him via an email. Too bad it was not in place prior to the robbery.
OPENING: Prior to entering the facility the entire facility is circled via automobile with one car parked in the most visible spot to allow for the best observation of the other vehicle as it circles the lot looking for suspicious vehicles or persons, broken windows and any suspicious activity.
Ideally, each person should have a cell phone. The stationary vehicle should park where the driver can depart quickly should an incident or suspicious activity occur. Should suspicious activity be observed, the police are to be called immediately and both people exit the lot and wait for police arrival.
Should no suspicious activity be found, the building can be entered. However, keep in mind that the building may have been accessed by a criminal from the roof.
That is why the rest of this guideline should be followed where one person remains inside a car while the other person enters and conducts a search of the inside premises. Once the inside is determined to be secure, the other person is notified to enter. I realize this is somewhat cumbersome, but it only takes a few additional minutes to prevent a serious assault or robbery.
CLOSING: During the closing, the building should be searched to ensure that all is secure prior to the last person exiting. Check places such as bathrooms where someone could easily be hiding. If you find someone, be prepared for an excuse such as, “I didn’t realize that you were closing.”
Although this excuse may be the truth, you would want to be on alert just in case. If you suspect the person is lying, covertly obtain the license plate number and report to police with a description of suspect and complete an incident report for local filing.
One person remains inside the facility (lock door as soon as the 1st person exits) with a view of the other person exiting. Once safe inside the car and the first person has circled the facility to make sure there is no suspicious activity, the other person would then exit to their car and both vehicles depart together.
Prior to exiting the building, the first person enters their car positioning them-self in a location that provides the best visibility of the area and also with the best departure access should another suspicious person or car approach while waiting for the person inside to secure and exit the facility. The 2nd person exiting parks their vehicle closest to the door prior to darkness.
As with openings, both people should have cell phones. With the low cost of cell minutes, it is a good idea to maintain constant communication during the searching of the facility during opening and closing.
These are basic opening and closing procedures which you may want to modify as you deem best for your environment.
If working alone in a facility, ensure doors and windows are secured after operating hours and prior to exiting have someone available that can meet you at your facility to participate in the aforementioned closing procedure.
Jim McGuffey, M.A., CPP. PSP, PCI