Ask The Expert

Ask The Expert: How Do We Know If Our Guard Force Is Performing Well?

By Michael J. Martin | January 26, 2023 | 3 min read

Your guard force is one of the most important lines of defense between your site and an incident, but how can you tell if they’re performing well? Periodic assessments of your security team are critical to your site’s safety and security.

This article will give you a framework for assessing your guard force, including both in-house and contract security.

A look at the different types of guard forces

Before you can evaluate your force, you need to understand and define its structure. Do you have one cohesive guard force? Do you have a hybrid force, made up of both proprietary and contract officers? If you’re using contracted guard services, do you use one or more providers?

In the last 30 years, the security industry has seen a shift away from proprietary security to contract security. The reason for this was a move towards the concept of core business—if a department didn’t directly contribute to the core mission of an enterprise, it was contracted out. Security ended up being a service that was outsourced, and today many companies use completely outsourced guard forces.

That doesn’t mean every company should be outsourcing security, however. In some cases, an organization may be better served by another type of force. Here is a quick look at the types of security forces:

  • Proprietary: A guard force completely employed by your company. Your organization hires, fires, manages, and pays these officers directly. They work for your organization, just as any other employee does.

  • Contract: Your guard force is directly employed by another company, such as Allied Universal or another manguarding firm. You are that firm’s client and although you may have some role in hiring, firing, and management, the contractor handles all HR issues. You may use more than one contractor for different parts of your security operation.

  • Hybrid: Some of your force is contracted out, while certain units are in-house. For example, executive protection might be in house, while your general guard force is contracted.

Keep in mind that although all programs should be evaluated to ensure they're meeting the same KPIs, you will need different mechanisms to evaluate proprietary and contract forces.

Evaluating a proprietary security force

Recently, we’ve seen some companies move away from contract guard forces. One client in particular told us they thought they’d be able to better provide their own security if the officers were employed in-house. When evaluating the in-house security, however, it’s important to know what your team brings to the organization as a whole, and to keep good data on every incident they respond to.

Below are some questions to ask:

  • What are the problems that your department is solving?

  • What is the value-add they bring to the organization?

  • What incidents have they responded to?

  • What did they prevent or mitigate?

  • Can we assign a dollar value to those items?

Evaluating a contract security force

When you’re evaluating a contract guard force, you want to ask all of the above questions, as well as several about the contract itself. How you set up your contract can help drive guard performance, so reevaluating the contract is an important part of the assessment:

  • Do you have the standards in place in the contact to be able to hold your contract force accountable?

  • Do you have a mechanism to validate that the contractor is providing the background checks necessary?

  • Are the minimum standards for an officer’s training outlined in the contract?

  • Do you require the contractor to provide training specific to your site?

  • Do you have the ability to audit that training is taking place?

  • What is the rate of officers calling out of work?

  • What is the officer turnover rate?

  • When officers call out or quit, is the contractor sending appropriately trained replacements?

  • Have there been complaints from employees about security, and if so, is there more or less than when you had an in-house force?

Service delivery is important when you’re evaluating contract security. If you’re not not getting the service you need from your contractors, you have to hold them responsible. If that contract’s telling you you’re not a priority it’s either time to switch contractors or to bring security back in-house.

Evaluating your guard force? Circadian Risk can help you evaluate your proprietary or contract staff in order to help you deliver the results you want from your department. Contact us now for a demo.

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