OBS Life

No half measures for security manager

MIKHAIL Kitshoff, manager of the Vetus Schola security personnel who are contracted to patrol Observatory’s streets, is about to join the Woodstock Police Station as a reservist. He says not only will he get a much better feel for crime he has to fight in Observatory, but it will help forge crucial relationships with the police officers that he has to work with.
And also, he says as an aside, it affords him the opportunity to “fight crime in my off time”. “You have to be committed if you’re running [a security operation in a City Improvement District]. There can’t be half measures,” he says.

Mikhail’s aim is to make Observatory the safest of the four sectors falling under the Woodstock police station.  So far, Observatory has fallen from being the greatest contributor to crime in the Woodstock precinct to the second highest. Walmer Estate now records more crime incidents.

As contract manager, Mikhail is the leader of a team of 22 guards who patrol the streets of Observatory 24 hours of the day.  His work entails a lot of planning and strategizing as crime patterns change. Most of his time, he says, is spent with “my guys”, as he calls the guards, doing on-the-job training.

He explains that, contrary to general perceptions, street-security work requires a lot of experience, training and sharpening of eyes. The wide-ranging skills set, from spotting potential trouble to approaching citizens in a respectful and diplomatic way, requires careful nurturing. Security staff, with their long hours and often dangerous working conditions, need constant motivation, which he provides through monthly performance bonuses. The Observatory community can help, he says, by acknowledging the difficult work that the guards do.