Built into the hillside of the Sierra Nevada Foothills in El Dorado County, Calif., Red Hawk Casino is located off Highway 50 at exit 40, just east of Sacramento. The casino features two floors of gaming, including a completely smoke-free lower level. Red Hawk Casino boasts 2,100 slot machines, 75 table games, six restaurants, live entertainment and spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Red Hawk Casino also has the largest casino parking structure in Northern California. The parking structure is more than 1,113,500 square feet, contains more than 3,100 parking spaces, and is equipped with a vehicle counting system that displays the number of open parking spaces available on each floor. This parking structure is patrolled and monitored by the casino’s security department 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All security team vehicles utilize strobe lights for visibility during patrols, which has a deterrent effect. Each vehicle is numbered on its corners and roof for easy identification by guests, employees and surveillance. The outside security patrols consists of officers utilizing sport utility vehicles, bicycles, golf carts and Segways® to patrol the parking structure, parking lots and surrounding areas.
Vehicles and Equipment
The security team takes a proactive approach in and around the parking structure with a visible presence of uniformed security officers conducting unscheduled patrols with varying routes throughout the shift and by using different types of vehicles for patrol. One way that security establishes a positive presence is by the use of vehicles and equipment that aid in quick and efficient responses. For example, compared to walking, the use of vehicles allows patrol officers to complete their duties up to three times faster, which results in more frequent patrols and has an effect of multiplying the security force. Vehicles also respond to emergency situations faster and with less physical exertion, which make for a more effective response. Following are the vehicles and equipment utilized by the Red Hawk Casino security team.
Sport Utility Vehicle
Important factors in choosing a vehicle for patrolling parking structures include a tight turning radius, ability for the driver to have clear and unobstructed views, and comfort. To aid in the recognition of the security SUVs, identification numbers are located on the corner of every vehicle and the rooftop for easy identification by guests, employees and surveillance. Each security SUV is logoed and equipped with an overhead light bar, permanent mounted booster cables, fire extinguisher, automatic external defibrillator (AED), first responder bag and a fire extinguisher system designed for engine fires.
In conjunction with notification to the fire department, the deployment of the fire extinguisher system occurs, when safe to do so, during the incipient stages of an engine/vehicle fire. Security utilizes a piercing nozzle attached to an extinguisher, approaches the vehicle from the side and punctures the hood, dispersing agent into the engine compartment. Engine compartment fires are by far the most common type of vehicle fires. Nationally, engine fires occur at a rate of one every 85 seconds. The most important advantages to keeping fires in enclosed spaces and combating them using the indirect method of attack with a piercing nozzle is the relative safety—the piercing nozzle allows someone to safely approach and the vehicle from the side, quickly penetrate the engine compartment, and safely and efficiently extinguish the fire without being exposed to smoke and many hidden dangers.
Factors to consider in choosing a bicycle for patrolling parking structures is comfort, flexibility for on or off road use, and a lightweight and durable frame. Patrol bicycle accessories include water bottle cage, water bottle, bell, multi-folding tool wrench, tire repair kit, lock, kick stand, seat pack storage bag, and tail light and headlight with steady, flashing and random modes.
The golf carts utilized by our casino’s outside security officers are customized, numbered, equipped with overhead lights, and are electric, which is environmentally friendly. In addition to being utilized for general patrols, the golf carts are frequently deployed to transport guests and have become a great customer service tool.
The Segways utilized by the outside security patrol officers are equipped with a police accessory package, which includes a police LED light kit and siren. The Segway is comfortable for the officers, has unparalleled flexibility and has a Lithium-Ion battery kit, which is environmentally friendly. The Segway also comes equipped with a 180-degree pivotal parking stand and a logoed patroller bag that attaches to the front of the vehicle.
The Segway is another vehicle in the Red Hawk arsenal that is a crowd pleaser and really gets the attention of guests. Eight inches of added height allows the officer to see and be seen, improves sightlines and visibility, and promotes interaction with people and situations, with the officer being perceived as being more approachable while carrying a greater presence. The added height also has a similar psychological effect on others, like the effect of the mounted patrols, without the care, attention and expense involved with maintaining a horse.
The typical security officer training includes emergency plans, emergency procedures, AED/CPR, radio communication, general conduct, report writing and customer service. In addition to this training, outside patrol security officers who operate sport utility vehicles, bicycles, golf carts and Segways receive training on basic bicycle patrol skills and tactics modeled after the county law enforcement patrol program. Training includes bicycle basics—pre-ride check out, ABC quick checks, riding procedures, safety hazards, practical exercises, security procedures and traffic control.
The basic section of training includes the types and nomenclature of vehicles utilized for garage and outside patrols, vehicle inspections, basic equipment, mandatory equipment, and demonstrations of how to fix a flat tire, jump start a vehicle, and when and how to use a fire extinguisher or the piercing nozzle for engine/vehicle fires. Pre-ride check out and ABC quick checks include visible inspection of vehicles for any abnormalities or defects and checking the air in the tires and braking systems. The previously listed inspections should take place prior to the use of any vehicle.
The riding procedures section of training includes instruction on the legal issues that give bike riders all the rights of the road and physical hazards such as rocks, glass and pedestrians. The No. 1 cause of bicycle versus vehicle accidents is that the motorist does not see the bicyclist. To aid in preventing this type of event, all patrol vehicles activate their strobe lights to increase visibility. Also, the outside patrol security officers are trained in riding techniques, emergency maneuvers and safe practices to avoid being involved in accidents.
The security procedures section of training includes interview techniques, how to become invisible while patrolling, securing vehicles, and ways to maintain a positive image by creating an atmosphere of safety for our guests. Also addressed is traffic control, which the outside patrols frequently use at the main entrance of the parking structure. An officer is posted at this location 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and serves as a point of contact for the guests and regulates the flow of traffic into the parking structure.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
Red Hawk Casino has taken a proactive approach to security by implementing concepts of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in the design and construction of the parking structure. The single most important CPTED feature in a parking structure is lighting. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) recommends that illuminances (light fixtures) in covered parking facilities have a “maintained” illuminance of five-foot candles for day- and nighttime activities.
Other CPTED features of the parking structure include the ceilings, walls and beam soffits, which are painted white to reflect light and increase the uniformity of the lighting. Another CPTED feature of the parking structure is the stairwells that are located on the perimeter of the parking structure, which allow for natural surveillance from exterior public areas. Also, each floor of the parking structure is identified by number and every elevator has panic buttons.
Parking Equipment and Tools
A customer service tool that is utilized in Red Hawk Casino’s parking structure is the Parking Locator, which provides our guests with an easy way to find their automobiles. This is accomplished in two ways: by the use of a ticket retrieved from an onsite dispenser or through the use of an exclusive text message arrangement that sends the guest’s vehicle parking location to their cell phone.
Another tool that is used to aid and assist the security team in providing a safe and secure environment is a state-of-the-art digital, closed-circuit television system (CCTV). These cameras are strategically located throughout the parking structure and report back to stations that are monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition to CCTV, garage officers have access to a portable video recorder that has the ability to instantly record any situation.
Twenty-four hour assistance call boxes are strategically located on each floor of the parking structure. For further clarification to guests, every assistance box is numbered and has a sign displayed indicating the proper operation, which states, “In case of emergency, push the red button. This will connect you to security. Once communication has been initiated with security, you do not need to depress the red button.” In the event that a guest needs assistance, the device is activated by depressing the blue button. Once activated, security dispatch, which is posted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is alerted, immediate audio communication is established, and visual coverage of the person is obtained by the CCTV system. An evaluation of the situation is conducted, and if necessary, security personnel are dispatched to the location.
In conclusion, the key elements for a safe, secure and customer-friendly operation of any parking structure include: having a security representative involved in the early design stages to ensure that CPTED is incorporated, the presence of trained security personnel and the installation and use of the proper tools and equipment. If these areas are addressed accordingly, guests will feel a strong sense of safety and security and are more likely to continue visiting the property.
When used in parking structures, these practices can provide guests and employees a greater sense of security and safety while mitigating claims and potential litigation. They can also contribute to the bottom line, provide in-house and outside counsel an improved means to resolve litigation, and generate an ROI for casino operators to provide the ongoing investment in security training and solutions, which we will explore in a future article.
Anthony DiSalvatore is the Vice President of security and transportation for Red Hawk Casino. With more than 25 years of security and law enforcement experience, he has been involved in the opening of numerous casinos, hotels and entertainment complexes. He can be reached at adisalvatore[at]yahoo.com.
The Future of Security & Surveillance Technology
By Douglas L. Florence Sr.
IP (Internet-Protocol) CCTV is the future of security and surveillance systems. In new build and remodeling of casino operations, design consultants, architects and contractors are reaching out to the CIOs and IT departments of casino operations for their input and guidance on the interoperability of systems and business solutions.
The consideration of video content analytics or software to provide, for example, point-of-sale transaction accountability, people counting, license plate recognition, facial recognition and asset or perimeter protection, is much more accepted today due to improved accuracy and the reduction of “false positive” alerts. Regulatory compliance and laws require identity verification, which also contributes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and accountability. Another software application that is now being adopted continually enhances brightness and contrast of footage and then is live viewed and recorded. In parking garages, this application will drastically reduce or eliminate the glare experienced today as the sunlight moves east to west; the same is true for office settings or any location where illumination issues are present. Imagine if this could be applied to an overhead table game camera to counteract the reflection or glare from playing cards and improve the determination of outcomes!
IP and mega-pixel cameras are now being implemented at casino resort properties throughout the world, not only due to their reduced construction costs, but also for their capability to provide a minimum of 4 CIF resolution to more than 5 mega-pixels—that is 10X more resolution than today’s best analog cameras. The mega-pixel cameras also offer some unique characteristics and digital video recording, by way of virtual matrix operations, is becoming a “personal pan-tilt-zoom.” For example, the mega-pixel camera is capable of zooming into a live or recorded area of interest while maintaining the full field of view of the recorded image. This also allows for multiple users to access the images that are then managed by the computer workstation and software. The typical analog PTZ is limited to viewing the area of interest and, when zoomed into a tight field, that field of interest is recorded.