When Mark Jackson, Ernest Kidd and Rick Misch opened Cincinnati-based District Security Investigation Inc. (DSI) in 1993, it was with a plan to provide corporate security. But after’ observing the poor policing methods within African American communities, the partners decided to branch out: Adding community policing to their business, they have quadrupled their earnings.
“The traditional means of policing African American neighborhoods doesn’t work,” says Jackson. “The police tend not to be from the community and don’t understand [our] needs. The result was resentment within the community.”
DSI tried an innovative method by demonstrating sensitivity to the community. To assess neighborhood policing requirements, the threesome held meetings with members of the local black community. To attract project and apartment building management and firm owners as clients, they conducted community policing seminars. They also took potential clients to black neighborhoods. “We did this so they could see the reality of the community and its needs,” says Jackson.
They also distributed a promotional tape as part of their marketing approach. “The tape gives them [clients] an idea of how dealing with different cultures is a very sensitive thing,” says Jackson. “It’s a real eye-opener.” During their one-on-one meetings, DSI illustrates the advantages they offer. “We pull out the classified ads that say, ‘Apply today, start tomorrow,’” says Jackson. “How trained could the security force of that company be? Yet you see these ads all the time from many of the major Security firms.”
As a result of the trio’s efforts, more than 60% of their business is now derived from neighborhood block and community associations. The firm’s earnings jumped from $400,000 in 1995 to $1.5 million through October of 1996. Although the bulk of DSI’s business comes from community policing (DSI’s 93 officers are mostly police veterans or ex- members of the military service, like the three owners), their client base has expanded to include McDonald’s, British Petroleum and Lazarus Department Store (part of the Federated family). For these corporate clients, DSI provides such investigative services as background checks, pre-employment screenings, credit checks and psychological profiles.
Brian Hendy, property manager for Stern-Hendy Properties, uses DSI for tenant screenings and private security. “They have a new approach. Unlike other companies we have worked with, they are very proactive. They involve themselves in the community and have the community involve itself in its own security. The tenants feel comfortable reporting any trouble to them,” notes Hendy.
“There is an advantage when those policing a neighborhood understand the community,” says Jackson. “The results are better.” Thus, less crime and fewer problematic incidents.
District Security & Investigations, 7374 Reading Rd., Suite 117, Cincinnati, OH 45237; 513-731-6095 or 800-688-8721