In a previous column we talked about the importance of investing in your security staff by remembering them at budget time. Let’s assume that you’ve done this. What have you invested in? Do you have a security staff that has solid training and all the proper certifications required by the state of Arizona? If your security staff is poorly trained or has no training, you might as well take your money to the racetrack.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety’s licensing division sets the standard private security professionals must meet for licensing. However, no such standard exists for our in-house brethren, aka proprietary security officers. I point this out not to make another installment in a debate that’s been raging for years, but merely to remind you of a universal axiom – you get what you pay for.
You can’t go wrong investing in a disciplined, well-trained security staff. Continuous technological advancements, legal decisions, evolving social issues and a whole new brand of random acts of violence keep the security industry in a state of constant flux. As a result, training is evolving to keep pace. Corporate executives should make sure their security directors are current on all of the above. They should also actively keep their security staff informed of the same. Keep in mind that while technology, such as CCTV and sophisticated alarm systems are great, they cannot prevent a crime. There is no better deterrent than boots-on-the-ground uniformed personnel.
As I said, DPS sets the minimum standard that private security must meet. Because no such standard is required for in-house security, it can be a crapshoot. When the general public sees a security officer, whether in uniform or plain clothes, they have the right to reasonably expect that security guard has the training necessary to respond appropriately in a critical situation. That expectation is non-negotiable.
Most security directors are aware of the areas where their staff lacks the proper training, but may not have the budget to get them that training. They certainly do not have the legal incentive to do it. Some security directors supplement their in-house staffs with private contract security. A few have taken the initiative to get additional training for their staff, some according to state standards. Even though they are not required by law to do so, they have seen the light and are concerned about liability should a guard respond improperly by under-reacting or over-reacting to a situation.
The standard policy of ‘observe, detect and report’ is not as easy as it sounds. Today’s security officer needs training in computer skills, report writing, first aid, active shooter situations, emergency response, workplace violence, conflict de-escalation, crime scene protocol, etc. The list goes on. Even though security guards are not considered sworn police officers, in every case they are first responders by default. They should have some first responder skill sets.
Security training is available and it is relatively inexpensive. There are private academies, consulting firms and colleges that provide a full spectrum of training and course work geared to specific situations. The University of Phoenix offers a variety of training through single courses, certificate and degree programs in its College of Criminal Justice & Security.
Corporate executives should require their directors of security to become active members of a professional association of their peers. Professional associations such as the Arizona Private Security Professionals’ Association (APSPA) and the Phoenix chapter of ASIS (American Society of Industrial Security) International are two groups of security professionals that get together monthly to discuss security issues such as training, technological advances, legislative concerns and to answer each other’s questions. Each has guest speakers who talk about topical issues that security professionals should be aware of. The networking opportunities afforded by these two groups are invaluable.
ASIS offers a number of professional development webinars and board certifications as a certified protection professional, physical security professional and professional certified investigator. Memberships are affordable and it is money well-spent.
The social media affords opportunities for open discussions with security professionals from around the world who share similar concerns and seek answers to their questions. LinkedIn is a great example of this. There are a number of security discussion groups that exchange no-nonsense ideas and solutions to problems we all face. Groups such as the Security Industry Group, Private Security Professionals, Physical Security Managers, Security Source Online and The Security Space expose you to the combined talents and experience of security professionals the world over. One thing you will learn from these groups is that you are not alone. We all have the same challenges.
So, how well trained is your security staff? My humble advice – don’t wait until something goes terribly wrong to find out that there are deficiencies in their training that could have been taken care of with a little foresight.
See you next time.