July 14, 2021

In This Violent World, Observe & Report CAN Get You Killed

When I discuss this new-fangled approach to security, with colleagues, old & new, I get a firestorm, like a raging wildfire with no way out and rushing over me like a tidal wave. Some of the comments were suggestive and others were supportive. Most often I get something to the effect, that “we’ve always utilized Observe & Report because that’s all we need them to do. Most of the negative comments came from supervisors & managers.

But the theme is the same, the old-fashioned duties of observe & report for contracted, or in some cases proprietary, security officers is obsolete, just like the idea of calling them ‘guards’ and not officers.

I know there will be a lot of guffaws from some security professionals, not to mention corporate bean counters in the C-Suite & legal departments, but with the increasing threats in the world, from a myriad of sources such as workplace & school violence, criminal behavior (from vandalism to a litany of unimaginable crimes), riots from left wing activists such as antifa & BLM, & just plain cheap and useless thuggery by the ner’do wells of the world, we in the security field need to step up and advance our security officers as much as we do our technology.

The best way, as well as effective & efficient, is to kick the observe & report mentality right smack square upside the head. It is one of the things we too often neglect with our officers…professional training them to do more than observe & report.

The impetus for this being obsolete came about, in my mind, more than 30 years ago, from my own professionalism and being a stubborn Missoura mule with my boss. I fought and broke many rules to do a professional job for the client, but it rubbed the company management the wrong way, not the client but the company I worked for.

In 2019 a judgement against U.S. Security Associates, in the amount of $46.8 million, Kraft Foods plant in North Philadelphia in 2010, because the officers didn’t act correctly & go far enough to protect the client or employees, in a workplace violence (WPV) incident, solidified my opinions.

The officers called 911 and did nothing else. Did their post orders say do more? Or was it that they were too scared to do anything else? To illustrate the last point was that the security supervisor was seen, on camera, running to hide in a boiler room during the incident, instead of trying to warn employees or otherwise be constructive & creative in protecting the lives they were entrusted with.

In my years in the field, nearly 40 at this point, I did whatever I thought was necessary to safeguard the client property or employees. If that meant investigating something, inside or outside the facility, I did it. I always went a step beyond what my orders, post or managerial, said to do.

Was I ever chastised for going too far, doing too much, or stepping on toes? Yes, more than a few times. I’ve also been commended for doing something above and beyond to help or save the client from loss. But the point was, and is, we as security professionals can’t be afraid of disciplinary action in carrying out our responsibilities and duties. We need to be beyond that stone-aged philosophy of observe & report like a stupid security guard who can’t see anything past their cigarette smoke or coffee cup.

As professionals, we need to have the mindset to do whatever is necessary to get the job done, right, unless it’s illegal, immoral, or unethical. It is a matter of customer service and safety of lives & property. We, meaning all security professionals, need to do whatever is necessary to get the job done and get it done right, no matter what the orders may state.
With the world in such an uproar over far too many things to list here, security officers, MUST be charged with doing whatever they need to do to safeguard the lives and property of their company or client, with the proper training of course. I’m not talking over-the-top heroics, but making suggestions and following up on them, educate ourselves, and in other words going above and beyond what is needed acceptable for a security guard.

This also means that the pay rate for officers needs to be raised. If we want our officers to be professionals and be willing to go above and beyond, we need to pay them more than minimum wage. And I’m talking dollars not a few pennies. When I started in the field decades ago, I made $2.35 per hour. Most of the officers I worked with made little more, if any. Site supervisors made a total of .05 – .25 cents more per hour, with very few exceptions.

There are few people working in the security field that I can point to and say that they are as dedicated as I was/am in protecting lives and property, and ones I do know don’t work in the field anymore, with the things I’ve listed above, you figure out why. And some have forgotten what it’s like to work there. I hope I never get driven by $$$$signs, instead of dedication to protecting lives & property.

I will have a couple of posts coming up soon on turning your security officers into officers and not guards…despite what your municipality designates them to be. Every state, municipality, and security company (not to mention clients) need to follow thru with that and start to act like security officers are more than lowly observers, fit to do nothing else but watch the facility burn or people get killed or assaulted.

Observe & report is obsolete. It went out with the attacks of 911 and the technology of more than 20 years ago, when technology accelerated past the average officer, leaving them in the proverbial dust. In order for the lives and assets of our responsible charges to be properly protected we need to expect more from them. And to do that they need to be professional.
Simply asking someone to do nothing but observe and report tells them they have to do nothing but sit, as well as discreetly informing them that they ain’t worth more than an observer fit for nothing but watching the world go by. just remember U.S. Security Associates. We in the field and the world at large can no longer afford that kind of thinking. If our clients want us to do that, we need to have them sign off and release us from responsibility if anything occurs.

Even that probably won’t protect contracted officers and their employers in the instance of a WPV or similar incident. Just remember this number… $46.8 MILLION. Can you or your company take such a hit and stay in business?

It happens to Anyone…Any Time…Any Where… 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

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