William Cooper MBA, MPA

Bill Cooper MBA, MPA is the Director of the Criminal Justice program at Northwest University. Bill has been a Chief of Police, The Sr. Corporate Security Manager at T-Mobile and author of the security business book “Leading beyond Tradition”.

Chris:             Bill, how did you find your way into the security industry in the first place?

Bill:                  My history has come from law enforcement.  I spent 30 years in policing and actually achieved the rank of Chief of Police.  When I was the chief and the economy was tanking, I began to look at how we were really performing as opposed to perception and found that the results that law enforcement was achieving were pretty poor.  For example, we had a case closure rate for property crime in the high teens and for violent crime in the mid-40% range, and so the conclusion there was two out of every three people who report a crime weren’t getting their cases closed.

We were also looking at increased costs for servicing, increased crime, increased population so the supply and demand concept hits; we need more police officers, more dollars to fund the demand.  And when the economy was down, we were told not only were we not going to get those because there was no money but we’re going to be lucky to keep what we got.  I began to look at reengineering policing and looked at the application of business principles, which had never really been done in policing.

So I looked at business intelligence system, I looked at the application of Lean Six Sigma and how to get the community involved in securing itself and enhancing its own quality of life, and I built a management model that actually worked.  That three part element started producing substantial outcomes and as we iterated that model, I got a phone call from the private sector asking me if I’d be interested in managing security at Microsoft.

That’s my introduction into corporate America and the corporate security world and when I went to Microsoft, it was a substantially larger operation with, for all intents and purposes, the same issues that policing had.  It’s the “police department” of Microsoft and it was a lot of security guards, a lot of security officers.  I had over 300 people in that point and a multi, multimillion dollar budget, but it wasn’t very effective and it wasn’t very efficient.  So I took this same model and started applying it at Microsoft and again, the results were substantial.

So as we progressed, we began to look at taking corporate security from pretty much a potential risk averse, 100% reactive model and transforming that into a 100% proactive, problem identification, results based model.  For example, officers are out on patrol, both in policing and corporate security’s are on patrol.  Random patrol produces random results, so we began to look at how do we optimize performance?  We told the officers while you’re on patrol, go find; go find security problems and safety problems, escalate them, follow them up to make sure they get fixed.  And as a consequence, the officers themselves began to get very proactive in nature and we started finding safety problems by the dozens.

There’s a variety of safety problems out there and those when they were escalated got fixed.  So safety issues were reduced, in cases 90, 95%, which also reduces risk, it reduces liability and reduces cost.  In terms of security problems, there’s a variety of security problems that we run into.  Okay, go find those problems.  Rather than wait for somebody that’s in a problem to call us, go find them and preempt it before it becomes a problem.

Couple of examples there is unsecured assets.  Laptop computers is a prime example.  The officers would go around and identify after hours literally hundreds and hundreds of laptop computers sitting on desks.  So if somebody breached one of our buildings, they could walk off with as many as they could carry and the value of the box alone was $1,500, $2,000, not counting the value of any intellectual property on them.  So we began then…

Chris:               So, Bill, after Microsoft, you moved into the Director of Security for T-Mobile.

Bill:                  I did.  I was actually recruited there and T-Mobile had a relatively new security program; hadn’t been populated with personnel, staff.  I got hired as a security operations manager.  I took over the security officer contract which was pretty extensive, several hundred officers, and also began to look at applying this model there.

I had expanded the model by two stages but in looking at the security operation, again it was reactive in nature, it was not producing outcomes that showed value to the organization and like policing and corporate security in most organizations, it’s a cost center.  It’s perceived as a cost center that doesn’t produce positive outcomes in terms of revenue or cash flow.  So this model again was applied.

We began to look for problems instead of waiting for them to come to us.  Again, the example of unsecured assets, laptop computers; we were finding hundreds of those a week.  The officers themselves created a very nice security reminder card – date, time, reminder to secure your assets – and after hours, when they would see an unsecured computer, they’d simply drop that card on the employee’s desk and walk away.  I figured we’d probably reduce unsecured assets by 50% in a quarter.  We actually…

Chris:               You were changing behavior.

Bill:                 We were, and there wasn’t a big belief that the culture could be changed.  The result was within two weeks, we had reduced unsecured assets by 98% and we kept it there for five years.  That’s one example but as a cause and effect relationship, not a lot of our computers were being lost but if they were being lost, the value of what was on those was huge.

And so we started taking a look at, okay, secure the assets inside is one thing.  Now let’s prevent people from breaching our facilities.  So the officers again created a system where they began to look at how to prevent breaching of security into our buildings.  For example, our executive building averages about 17,000 visitors a year.  The study we did showed that 56% of the people going to that building, we had no idea who they were.  They were tailgating, people were letting them in, so that’s 9,000 people walking into our key facility and we had no idea who they were.  The officers created a very good, very simple model to apply and within six months, we had reduced that by 95%.

So the fourth part of the model became value proposition; how do we describe ourselves as a value add to the organization?  The story with that was that we now preempted the ability to breach our facilities by 95% but if you got in, there was only a 1% probability you were going to be able to take something out.  There’s a story and we were able to quantify that.

One other example is the officers did their patrols.  We had a number of IDF/MDF rooms, the server rooms on campus, and if they hit a certain temperature then they would shut down and if they hit a higher temperature, they’d crash the servers.  And the value of the intellectual property, the customer information that was on there, was hundreds of millions of dollars.

Chris:               So, Bill, when you’re trying to quantify the cost that could have been lost, were you using Six Sigma in that instance to show what the losses could have been and how you were preemptively putting controls in place?

Bill:                  It is a fundamental of lean principles but what we wanted to do is quantify cost avoidance.  A lot of what we’re dealing… this cost avoidance.  So the long and the short with these rooms was we found them crashing 184 times in a year, so the value of that cost avoidance was $18 million.  We worked with facilities to… so if these rooms had shut down, it would have been $18 million to reboot them and start them up again.  With a total investment in corporate securities… security guard budget of $9 million, the story there is for every dollar they invested in us, we gave them two back and when we started aggregating all the things that we were doing, the story was for every dollar they invested in us, we were giving them between 10 and 100 back.

Chris:        Ok, so in business terms, risk mitigation.

Bill:                  Risk mitigation, vulnerability mitigation and then you look at the value proposition is we took our mission statement, the 24/7 safe and secure kind of traditional… and threw that out, and our mission statement became one sentence – Corporate Security provides an interruption-free workplace and enhances ROI.  Because if we didn’t do our job, the employees couldn’t do theirs and that reduces positive cash flow.  If we do our job, the employees can do theirs, so there’s a positive cash flow.

So we articulated ourselves as a value proposition; benefits minus cost, that we provided a value-add to the organization.  The fact that we worked closely with the executives and the executive protection program gave us a little more visibility to that and when we start communicating in terms that they converse in, that they understand then the story becomes that much more compelling and our credibility went up substantially as a consequence.

Chris:               Yes,  If you can talk risk at the C level, that conversation can help your program immensely.

Bill:                  Chris, you’re right; it’s all about risk and it’s all about risk mitigation.  Everything we do is risk and if you look at the formula Risk = Threat x Vulnerability x Consequence, if you reduce any one of those three, you reduce risk.  If you eliminate any one of those three, you eliminate risk.  That’s the way we attack this; let’s go find those problems before they become problems and go forward.  So the story for us is we achieved a heck of a lot of successes in reduce of risk and vulnerability, in some cases by 95 and 98%, and kept it there for five years.  The cost associated with that is enormous, the credibility is enormous, the transparency with what we do is enormous and our ability to do what we needed to do was tremendous.

And the third part… the fourth part was bringing employees in to securing themselves, so we wanted to do a very subtle but positive culture shift.  Through the employee entrance, through the tailgating process, through the unsecured assets, the culture did change and it changed substantially and the employees really didn’t even known it.  And so the whole philosophy of attacking these issues quietly and subtly is the way to approach this.

Chris:               Small, bite-size pieces.

Bill:                  Exactly.

Chris:               So, Bill, you wrote a couple books.  Tell me about your books.

Bill:                  The first book I wrote was premised on the model that I had built when I introduced this as the chief to the City Council with the Lean Six Sigma, the business intelligence piece and the community involvement piece.  I told the Council and the mayor at that point that based on this model which had literally never been done before, that we would reduce crime by double digits, we would reduce calls for service by 25 to 30% or more, we would build a relationship with the community unlike anything they had ever seen, stabilize the budget in a way would kill attrition.

As I presented this, I’d actually written a paper, a white paper, on this and gave it to them and I thought as we progressed and started gathering the metrics on this that there was a book here.  And so I authored the book – quite a process, lot of lessons learned there – and actually published the book and it was specific to law enforcement.  And I titled the book Leading Beyond Tradition because the traditional models in the public sector, and in cases the private sector, don’t work.  They proceed forward but they’re not producing substantial outcomes so I wanted to title it something that reflected that philosophy.

The first book did well, specific… it was a niche book for the police and corporate security and as we iterated the model, I added predictive analytics.  I had actually gone through formalized training from Motorola University and got to be a Six Sigma black belt and found that Six Sigma, while it’s very powerful and is far more applicable to major projects, multimillion dollar projects, and so I began to look at Lean Six Sigma which is more about speed; speed of the process and eliminating waste and redundancy, and found that to be far more applicable to what we do than straight Six Sigma.

So I started training – I am now a Lean Six Sigma master black belt – and took that model and because of the statistics in it, began to look at the application in building predictive analytics for law enforcement and corporate security.  Built a couple of models that work and so we had actually grown to five parts of the model, so I authored a second book.  The book was designed not for just law enforcement; it was designed for the public and private sectors.

And launched it in 2012.  It is doing pretty well.  I’m getting some pretty good attention from it.  The consultations, the teaching, the speaking as a consequence of the model is getting more and more visibility as we go.  Having moved into a university setting and being titled the director of the program but also an associate professor here seems to be opening up a lot more doors.

Chris:               Let’s talk about that for a minute.  So what is it like going from the public to private sector and then into educational?  I mean, you’ve kind of crossed all three of the areas.

Bill:                  You know, to start, I have enjoyed all of them.  I enjoyed my time in the public sector, I enjoyed my time in the private sector and I learned a lot.  I learned a lot from both.  I did very well in policing and when I moved into senior management in the private sector, I learned a lot more.  The business application really is profoundly applicable to what we do in the public sector as well.

I had been teaching for years off and on.  I have taught various seminars and courses.  When I finished graduate school, I went and I was teaching MBA courses for another university.  I love to teach and as time went by, this university, Northwest University, got hold of me and talked about creating this new criminal justice degree.

Chris:               Let’s talk about that for a moment.  So you and I talked about the business applicability into both security and the public sector and you’re taking this new criminal justice program in that direction, kind of bringing both your books and all the knowledge you’ve learned to bear on that… this new concept of forming business and criminal justice.

Bill:                  When I looked at this and I was talked to by the university about the criminal justice degree, I have not been a huge proponent of criminal justice degrees.  And not because it’s a poor education; it’s a very good education based on the more social sciences and the more historic end of the system.  I wanted to look at the opportunity to look at forecasting not only where are the businesses going but what would make it work better.  The results that we talked about earlier; how do we increase those?

You’re looking at some of the most sophisticated, intelligent, educated police officers in history, you’re in the highest technological advances in history and the gap is growing in the business.  So you look at what would make the criminal justice field, what would make the police, corrections, corporate security, what would make them more effective, more efficient and better able to produce positive outcomes that are measurable and useful?

And so when I talked to the University about those concepts, they were pretty entrepreneurial in their thinking and thought that would be a great way to look at this.  So rather than the traditional criminal justice degree, we’re now introducing business management skills into the courses.  You’ll learn leadership skills that are specific to the business.  You’ll learn Lean Six Sigma.  You’ll learn things like policy development, budgeting, personnel management, organizational development, planning strategy.  And it won’t be “Go read a book and write a paper on this”; you’re actually going to learn how to do that and what its applicability is today.

Chris:               Why are we doing it.

Bill:                  People coming through and getting this degree are going to walk out of here with a bucketful of actionable, usable management skills.  I would submit that getting this degree, you’re probably going to learn more management skills than you would getting an MBA.  So here, it’s about providing an education of value, that has substance, that has applicability and so we’ve launched… we launched in July of this year and the attention this is getting is pretty profound at the moment.  We’re getting a lot of attention, a lot of success as we build the program so it’s working pretty well.

Chris:               So, Bill, you have a vested interest in people coming to your school and going through your CJ program but over and beyond education, what would you tell somebody coming into this security industry?  What would be your advice to them on how to move up and how to get the kind of skills and understanding in the security industry?

Bill:                  The first thing that you’ve got to look at coming into this business is that it’s more than just employment, it’s more than just a job; that what you’ve got out here is the potential for a career.  The security field used to be “This is a temporary stopgap employment while I see what I want to do elsewhere”.  The business has changed significantly over the last few decades and you’re really seeing some quality people move into security.

So it’s more than a job, it has the opportunity to be a career.  You have the ability to move into various fields in the business.  You have the ability to advance your career through promotions.  So as you consider entering the field, you can consider it as a career.  If you’re looking for it as an opportunity to advance into the field of criminal justice, policing, corrections then that kind of background is there as well.

So you want to come in and you want to be an A+ employee to start with; your credibility, your ability and your job really means something out there and you will be measured in your performance on that.  If you’re looking at moving into policing, for example, and I’m the Chief and I’m interviewing you, you can expect to be asked about what we’ve been talking about in this interview; that your credibility and your integrity are second to none.  So going into any business, you have to have and maintain those.

As you enter the security field, there’s a number of variations of jobs that you can do.  You have a number of shifts that you can work, so the ability to work a job that is easier to apply to your particular situation is there.  Moving into the public sector – policing and criminal justice – is… the security field now will give you that foundation.  30 years ago, it would not have but today it does because the knowledge, skills and abilities of security officers are substantially greater than they used to be.

Always look for the opportunity to move around, to move forward, look to enhance your skills.  The value of an education cannot be emphasized enough.  You’ll get the basic training for the job coming in but for me, I look for people that had something to bring to the table that was beyond the normal entry level skills.  What’s this person going to bring to the table a year from now, three years from now, five years from now?  What is this person’s passion for getting more education?  What is this person’s commitment to actually moving himself, herself forward?

Most police departments are looking for at least a two-year degree.  You want to be promoted in a police department, you’re going to have to have a Bachelor’s degree and so there’s any number of universities out there where you can do that but at the same time, you should be looking at something more than a sheepskin; you should be looking at the ability to go in and learn something which you can apply.  The degree here at Northwest will give that to you and frankly, there’s not another criminal justice program in the country that’s offering the skillsets that we’re offering.  So the opportunity’s there, the ability’s there but you’ve got to have the passion for that, the higher education.


Bill Cooper is a retired Chief of Police, with experience in senior management over corporate security organizations.  He is recognized for his accomplishments in Leadership, Organizational Development, and building High Performance Organizations.  He is an award winning speaker and author of the book Leading Beyond Tradition and developed the Cooper Model of Modern Management, a highly successful proactive approach to effectively and efficiently managing an organization within finite budgets and existing resources.

Bill is an expert in organizational efficiency and effectiveness and has consulted with and taught organizations on a variety of issues related to performance.  He is a Motorola-trained Six Sigma Black Belt and teaches graduate school MBA courses.  He has been interviewed on radio, television, and for national and local publications.

Bill holds an MBA and a Masters Degree in Public Administration.  He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Northwest Law Enforcement Executive Command College – he has lectured at both institutions, and speaks frequently to a variety of groups and organizations.

Bill provides keynote addresses, and training and consulting on his management models.  His website is www.leadingbeyondtradition.com



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