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Invisible, yet noticeably present

Article by Michael Bouwens

More than 100.000 enthusiastic fans came to Amsterdam’s Museumplein (Museum Square) on May the 16th. They honoured Ajax’s first team for their remarkable achievement in the Eredivisie and Champions League. An impressive gathering, where unity and the city’s passion for sports met on one of its prime locations.

For all authorities involved however, managing these kinds of crowds can be quite a challenge. Besides minor incidents, a collective outbreak of panic could be disastrous. To monitor the behaviour of the crowd, together with clearly recognizable agents and enforcers, the city deploys so called Silent Watchers. These mostly inconspicuously dressed and unnoticed police officers and private security agents move through the crowd, where they observe, register, assess, and act if needed.

Although they are rarely noticed, or because they are not, these agents play a crucial role during big events like Ajax’s celebration. On King’s Day, at concerts and festivals, or around any large event with tens of thousands of people, they make sure that negative emotions don’t escalate. Fights are ended before they can spread and large numbers of people move in and through the area feeling safe. This kind of intervention and prevention injects calmness into possibly dangerous situations. In my opinion this is one of the trademarks of a professional security agent: they are invisible, yet noticeably present.

“Security Hosts are professionals that combine the characteristics of a good host(ess) with the physical abilities, control, and assessment skills of a professional security officer.”

There is a rapidly rising demand for security agents with exactly this combined skillset in spaces such as offices, hospitals, and commercial shopping areas. We call ours Security Hosts: professionals that combine the characteristics of a good host with the physical abilities, control, and assessment skills of a professional security officer. People who understand that the presence of a traditional security officer (strong and big, intimidating, clearly recognizable) is substantially less effective than a calm, quiet, controlled one.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the Museumplein or an office on the Zuidas. The invisible, yet noticeably present security officer contributes to safety and equally importantly, to a sense of security.