Do You Have a Deputy Dawg Working for You?
Written by Robert D. Sollars
The title of this blog is in reference to a long gone cartoon of my childhood about a bumbling deputy and it’s appropriate to the subject I’m writing about! I started in the security field more than 40 years ago, first in special events, then to regular uniformed security in 1983. In all these years, I’ve never grown accustomed to the derogatory terms placed on us by people, including those in the profession. I’m not talking about the innumerable number of expletives that have been hurled my way – that’s a part of the job…I had a friend spend more than 90 minutes hurling insults and calling me names, and not a one had I not heard in the past.
I mean the words they place on us like we’re just some stupid dunder headed idiots who couldn’t tell a rat from a cat, and have no clue to do what we’re supposed to do, without the technology or being held by the hand during patrols. You may be wondering what terms I’m talking about. Let me enlighten you on some of those, and how we can get rid of them – IF the profession will listen.
They mainly do this to justify the low pay and benefits not to mention those who didn’t like what we did or how we did it. Rent-a-cops, Barney Fife’s, and all the other derogatory terms I’ve heard.
The clients, of contract companies, and the management of all companies. Why do that to their own people and those that are protecting them? Again, simple. “What the hell is the difference, they’re all stoopid, and can’t think like an adult anyway, so why treat them better than that?” That is the answer I’ve received from most of the management, my own and others, or clients I worked with, not to mention the client employees.
Wanna know the real difference between a professional officer and a dunder-headed sekurt gard, who can’t think their way out of a wet paper bag?
The real difference lies in the perception, from everyone involved including sekurty gards, of a lazy good for nothing rent-a-cop from 30 years ago and further back into the 1870s and not a professional observer and protector. This Means that an officer, their managers, and their clients/customers have to go above the narrow definition that the municipality or state mandates in carrying out their responsibilities.
It starts with management. They must refrain from using the term guard, unless it’s being used as a verb or to describe poor performance. Many security companies still call their officer’s guards as do their clients. They have been doing it for so long it is a habit. The level of training, pay, or ability doesn’t matter. They are all guards and nothing more. And not many people think of it differently because they have been conditioned to think that way, literally for decades. So, the first thing is to change their perception. The way security professionals changed the industry with the formation of ASIS in the mid-50s.
The company and client can change, but the employee’s perception of your officers has to change also. And how can you do that, when the employees think that the officers are more of a hindrance than a help. Eventually the employees will follow management in calling them officers. However, the officers must PROVE that they are worthy of that respect.
Next in the line of change are the officers themselves. The biggest question you will face 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 and a code of conduct but over and above that…it is their mindset. You can ask and order, but unless they are in the mind set 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 to earn their meager paychecks.
What do you have to ask and order them to do to become officers not guards? Again, it is all up to them to want to change and be an officer not a guard.
Education is a vital key. I don’t mean they have to have a Bachelor’s degree or any college education. Even if the individual is only a high school gaduat, they can be an excellent security officer. The key is to start learning and never stop, no matter what it is; security, recent events, local/national/World, or computers. It all helps them to learn and establish their skills.
I consistently surprise people when I tell them I’ve never been to college. Many people ask me how I’ve become so educated? I started learning and never stopped and that is the key. How did I do that?
Before going blind I was used to reading as many as 4 – 5 newspapers a day. Additionally, I read many kinds of magazines, including client industry specific.
I have managed security officers that were conscientious and dedicated to completing their assigned job in a professional manner, they jes weren’t edumacated or looked thoroughly professional. On the other hand, I’ve also had ‘guards’ that had college degrees and could me to shame mentally, and looking like Christopher Pine or ‘The Rock’, but they were guards because they didn’t have a clue as to what the hell was supposed to happen or what to do if it did.
The key is to let your officers know what’s going on within the company & industry, and no they don’t have to join a bunch of professional organizations. 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.
lastly, 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.
(Note: watch for the 2nd part of this next week with a few more helpful hints to turn your Barney Fife’s into professional officers)
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It happens to Anyone…Any Time…Anywhere… For any Reason