When I talk to prospective customers who employ a security force, they generally have a common complaint: they’re not happy with the performance of their security officers.
Security officers have a bad reputation in the United States. This isn’t entirely the fault of the officers themselves. Generally, a security force is an afterthought when it comes to security measures. A company, which may have to employ a guard force for insurance reasons, might simply hire any guard force without thinking too much of it.
Do banks need human security? Learn about the bank that stopped using guards.
Hiring security officers just to check the boxes for your insurance is an organizational error. It shows that your company doesn’t prioritize security. It’s also the first step you have to take in improving the performance of your security force.
- Make security a priority. If you want a good security force that employes officers who will be an asset to your organization, you have to plan for it. That means that first and foremost, you need to make security a priority, and you also have to budget for it. Why? Once you have a good budget, your organization can require a security company to do things the way you want them done: by doing specific background checks, hiring officers with specific experience, and training the guards the way you want them trained.
- Hire a guard company that takes hiring seriously. The people who apply to become security officers probably didn’t grow up wanting to be guards. Maybe they wanted to be police officers and didn’t make it through the academy. Maybe they’re retirees who want a second job. Maybe this is the only position open to them right now. Rather than simply going along without whomever your guard company hires, take control. (Having a budget will help you do this.) Tell the company you hire that you want them to undertake rigorous background checks on each officer, perhaps verifying as far as 20 years back. Your assets are in these guards’ hands, so you should know who is guarding your organization.
- Require training. Once again, if you’ve got a budget, you can require your guard company to provide training — not just when security officers are hired, but on an ongoing basis. This means training for hard skills — like first aid, emergency response, and learning new technologies — but officers should also be trained for soft skills, such as etiquette and courtesy. After all, your officers are often the face of your company. You can also require that officers meet certain benchmarks before they’re promoted to sergeant or captain. Being a security officer is a career; so officers need training in areas like management as well.
- Use technology to augment your security force. Security officers are human, and therefore, they make mistakes. Using technology as well as a guard force can help you avoid mistakes, and also hold officers accountable. While many guard companies use their own software, there are a number of devices you can use to bolster your security force, such as Robotic Assisted Devices (RADs), electronic wall boxes and standalone units that can perform the functions of a guard sitting at a security desk, by checking badges and letting in visitors. Systems like Patriot One Technologies’ Patscan System can also help security officers by scanning for weapons and other threats guards can’t see.
Are there alternatives to security guards? Find out here.
A well-trained security team is an asset to any organization.
Earlier in my career, I worked for a pharmaceutical company. One of our guards noticed that a temperature-controlled storage unit was below the normal temperature. Checking the temperatures of storage units wasn’t part of his job description, but because he noticed something was amiss and reported it, the company didn’t lose the assets in that unit. Other guards I’ve worked with went above and beyond their job description, saving animals from a fire.
The takeaway here is that yes, an incompetent guard company can cost you money, but investing in a competent security force can save you billions.
Have a question or scenario you would like to be answered next month? Email me and submit your question!