Concordia University

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Case Study: University Security Solutions

Located in the heart of downtown Montréal, Quebec, Concordia University is an English-language comprehensive university. The university’s name is derived from Montréal’s motto, “Concordia Salus,” or “well-being through harmony.” Concordia offers more than 433 distinct graduate and undergraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates offered in four faculties, the School of Extended Learning and the School of Graduate Studies.

Established in 1974, Concordia is the result of the merger of its two founding institutions —Loyola College (1896) and Sir George Williams University (1926). Its two campuses are set 6.5 km apart and connected by a shuttle service running from the downtown Sir George Williams campus to the Loyola campus in the city’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce residential district.

Through its commitment to providing a healthy, safe and sustainable learning and work environment, Concordia has a dedicated Security Department that manages seven divisions: Operations, Prevention, Investigation, Technology, Integrated Systems, Planning and Control, and Special Events. In addition to its own human and technological resources, the Security Department works in close collaboration with external agencies, such as Commissionaires Montréal, to meet its security-based objectives.

Challenges

Between 2001 and 2011, the student population increased by 32%. Concordia responded to this growth by renovating and expanding existing facilities, acquiring new property and adding new buildings. These improvements increased the combined square footage of both campuses by 55%. Today, the Security Department needs to protect more than 53,000 students, faculty and staff occupying more than 70 buildings, three residence complexes and two campuses.

The university hosts roughly 7,000 special events annually and welcomes thousands of visitors each year. In 2010, an underground tunnel was completed that connects Guy-Concordia Metro station—currently the second-busiest Metro station in Montréal with 1.2 million passengers per year—to the Sir George Williams campus.

Jacques Lachance, Interim Director, Security Department at Concordia, says, “Protecting our people and our property requires more than just a security presence. We need to be focused on prevention, intervention and education. We also need to be focused on integrated security solutions, monitoring, trend analysis, and risk assessment.”

To this end, every department is responsible for supporting the Security Department in its ongoing efforts to ensure a safer and more secure university environment. When screening for external partners to enhance or expand internal capabilities, the challenge is to find service providers who not only meet or exceed Concordia’s high standards for experience, training and technologies—but who are also oriented towards problem-solving and continuous improvements in quality control.

Solutions

According to Lachance, external service providers must go through a rigorous prequalification process before they are invited to bid on contracts. The goal is to ensure the bidders are stable, reliable, certified, and have the resources to fulfill the contractual requirements.

In 2008, Commissionaires Montréal scored the highest marks as a prequalified bidder. as a company that hires many former members of the military and RCMP, it could offer a well-disciplined and experienced work force. It also hires multicultural and multilingual personnel of all ages—appealing to a university culture that attracts students from 150 countries around the world, 15% of whom speak languages other than English or French. The ISO-certified company had a proven record for 24/7 response, as well as the stability and well-managed resources to keep stride with the university’s growth.

Lachance says, “Commissionaires Montréal was the most qualified security company. We have been working with them ever since and consider them an important part of our security team.”

Maurice archambault, Director of Contract Management at Commissionaires Montréal, says, “Our relationship with our client is based on mutual respect. We’re here to adapt and respond to their needs, whether this involves more training, a new process or additional resources. We offer more than guard services. We also have experienced security professionals who can contribute to strategic planning, problem-solving, resource and risk management, and operational improvements.”

Results

Lachance reports that during the past decade, the university’s crime and incident rate has decreased by 53%. When Commissionaires Montréal was first hired to support Concordia University in 2008, there were 80 commissionaires assigned to the contract. Today, this number has swelled to nearly 140 commissionaires.

During this time, commissionaires’ responsibilities have changed or increased; there are now three contracts. They are performing a wide range of security duties, including vehicle and foot patrols, dispatch, reception and surveillance. More specialized roles include supervision, investigation, integrated security system coordination, management of campus security and various technical functions. Commissionaires are assisting with reports and other administrative functions. They are also contributing valuable input and support during strategy meetings, organizational changes and system upgrades.

Lachance says, “Over the years, the commissionaires have been able to adapt and grow with us. It’s a good team offering good solutions. In fact, all of our security personnel, including commissionaires, now wear the same badge. We consider commissionaires to be partners.”

Archambault adds, “Concordia University has well-recognized programs and ranks highly in Canada and internationally. Commissionaires Montréal is proud to be working so closely with this well-respected university and we are grateful to have such an excellent working relationship with the Security Department.”

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