Written by Robert D. Sollars
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This post is a little longer than most, but I’m passionate about security, believing we need to accomplish these items to be professional and taken seriously. I apologize in advance for the length.
I’ve never liked the derogatory terms placed on us by those who didn’t like who & what we were or how we did it, and this after nearly 40 years I don’t like …
- Rent-a-cops – the idea behind this is that we were pompous, arrogant, and wanting to be a cop so we acted tough and assholish.
- Barney Fife’s – the never do anything right deputy on the old Andy Griffith Show…although everything we do was in conjunction with what the company/client wanted from us.
- Keystone Kops – The reigning comedy team of the silent movie era. Stumbling, fumbling, bumbling and rumbling idiots who also couldn’t do anything right, until they caught the criminals.
What has occurred that keeps the, what should be, the proud position of security officer into one of those idiot sekurty gards, is simple…the management/clients of contract security companies or departments with their attitudes of, “What the hell is the difference, they’re all stoopid anyway!”
The difference lies in the perception, from everyone involved including sekurty gards, of lazy good for nothing rent-a-cop and not a professional observer and protector of the facilities workers, visitors, vendors, and etc. This Means that security company’s & departments have to go above the narrow definition that the municipality or state mandates in carrying out their responsibilities, which is easily accomplished…with a little hard work and convincing.
Management is the beginning of this process. They must refrain from using the term guard unless it’s being used as a verb or to describe a poor performance. Many security companies still call their officer’s guards as do their clients. Along with municipality mandates, they’ve been doing it for so long it has become a habit, nasty & inefficient habit to be sure but…
The level of training, pay, or ability doesn’t matter. They are all gards, nothing more, nothing less. Not many think of it differently because they have been conditioned to think that way, for decades. Can the company or client change?
The perception of your employee’s/students towards your officers has to change also. How can you do that, when they, in all honesty, & earnestness believe that the officers are a hindrance, stupid, lazy, and have the rent-a-cop mentality, rather than a help in getting the job accomplished.
That’s never an easy task, but may be helpful sections in the company newsletter, employee meeting presentations, and etc. would help. However, in addition, the officers must prove that they are worthy of that respect, remembering the old adage that respect is earned, never given.
The biggest question you’ll need to ask yourself is “How the hell do I do that?” The simple answer is…you can’t! It is up to them. You can certainly put into place disciplinary measures, a code of conduct, training, and everything necessary for professionals, but above all that…it is their mindset. You can ask and order, but unless they have that mindset to do it, then they won’t.
To those guards, it’s all a bunch of hooey, and they don’t want to do anything more, lest they make friends angry or their job more difficult, to get their ‘pittance’. So, what do you have to do to get them to become officers, not guards? Again, it’s all up to them.
Education is vital to becoming more professional as a security officer. Not saying they have to have a Bachelor’s degree or any college education. Even if the individual is only a high school graduate, they can be an excellent security officer with diligence and a mindset of never letting anything get by them. The key is to start learning and never stop, no matter what it is; security, local/national/World events, or computers. It all helps them to learn and establish their skills.
I’ve never had any higher education. People ask me how I’ve become so educated & know so much. I started learning, reading, seminars, webinars, books, articles, & etc., never stopping. Before blindness, I was used to reading as many as 4 – 5 newspapers a day, as many as 10 magazines a week, including client and security industry-specific, and 2 or 3 books of both fiction & non-fiction. No matter how boring any of those are, you’ll always pull out a golden nugget to file away and use later
I have managed security officers that were conscientious and dedicated to completing their assigned job in a professional manner, they just weren’t edumacated. I’ve also had ‘guards’ that had college degrees, of all sorts, and could me to shame with book learning, but they didn’t have a clue of what was needed in real life of security…because nothing happens in real life as happens in all the books they’ll read.
it doesn’t matter what the industry is. If you are in a plastics plant, do you read any manufacturing or plastics magazines? Those are just as important. If you’re contracted, you have to know your client’s business and how it works in order to be effective and efficient at their assigned job & post.
Just because they’ve completed however many hours of training videos or on-the-job training (OJT) it’s not even close to being enough for training. Nothing can compare to the advantages of actually working the post and being trained on it, OJT, and the black & white cleanliness of formal classroom training.
Classroom training is perfect or the orientation training, as they are ‘chained’ to their seats to learn, and testing them after is even better. OJT and training from visiting supervisors, if done properly, will also be great assets in ensuring they perform as professionals.
Turning your guards into professional officers will not, to the slightest degree be easy. You’ll be labeled as a hard-assed, dick headed, motherfucker, son-of-a-bitch, who won’t let them be, to do their jobs. It’s necessary to overhaul the industry/department in a time of dangers never before thought of in this treacherous world. we need to maintain a protective watch on…everything, like we’ve never done before…even in times of war, which in fact we are in a war against terrorism, crime, and other dangers to the client/company.
We start with our security force and ensure that they are officers, not just guards of yesterday going back decades, they were little trained, if at all, with even less motivation, to do the job effectively & efficiently, not just collecting a paycheck.
- Testing, while training is a good first step, but testing is a mandatory 2nd. After training someone, you need to test them. If you don’t test, how do you know whether or not they learned, and retained anything? How can you correct any issues that come about because of a lack of understanding?
Written tests should be administered at the end of any training. The written, not just T & F or multiple-choice, forces the officer to think out their answer and put it in writing. Oral testing is just as important, when you see them in the office or on a post, ask them a question about their assignment, ensuring that they answer in an adequate fashion.
Both of these tests will keep them on their toes and keep them thinking and learning about their assignment. Additionally, it will keep them up-to-date on their post, client needs, as well as industry and company news.
- field supervision, while out conducting post inspections, you need to be doing more than just shooting the breeze… Delve into their knowledge of the post, security, post orders, and other such items. After the breeze has been shot, leave them with something to think about, a motivational thought or security tidbit.
This will also help to get them into the mindset of being an officer, not just a guard unless you’ve hired lazy good for sleeping scurty gards. Your field-level supervision needs to be the official presence of the company and uphold the industry and company standards.
Usually, guards see field management as a royal pain in the butt. But to an officer, they will see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, whether within the industry or company and learn from an officer that possibly has decades of experience to draw from.
- Be curious and paranoid. Yes, paranoid. Does that mean to call, someone, every time they hear a sound? Of course not! What it means is that they should take nothing for granted and be hyper-vigilant, if you hear a noise in a dark facility, no matter what kind, at 0200 hours, then don’t think it’s just a rodent, it could be a criminal. And curiosity may have killed the cat, but it won’t kill the officer.
- Customer service. Yeah, I know what you are thinking about providing customer service in the security field. There are many levels to customer service and your new officers must be proficient in learning how to deliver it. There is so much more to customer service than smiling and being respectful to others. Customer service is not an act but a habit. Therefore, in order to make your officers into customer service extraordinaire, you need to make them effective, efficient, & train them in the skills they need.
These are just a few of the areas that you’ll need to implement and accomplish to turn your sekurty gards into professional officers. It starts with the hiring and interview process. You’ll tell whether or not they are the material you need, want, or not. Don’t get into the Warm Body Syndrome of so many guard companies…a warm body on the post so they can bill if they screw up, we’ll apologize and all’s well.
Did you, as a professional, get to your level of expertise by sitting and doing nothing? More than likely you put in years and study to become the skilled person you are. There isn’t a magic elixir to take to make you a security genius. Nor is there a metal helmet you can put on to attract the universe’s knowledge. So, that leaves one thing and one thing only. Observe and learn!
Have your officers learned and kept learning about everything? Have them observe everything and record it mentally and on their notebooks, if you can get them to change their perception of themselves, and the client, management, & employees change their perceptions then you are on the way to having officers not guards. And if you can do that, then your officers will gain and be respected as such…which can provide benefits for the company/client down the road.
It happens to Anyone…Any Time… Anywhere… For any Reason
I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear
Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.
Copyright 2021 Robert D. Sollars