Charlotte NC A security officer working an upscale office complex assignment near downtown Mobile Alabama and another security officer on duty at an apartment complex more than four hundred miles away in Houston Texas both met death on the same day and in the same way. They were murdered.
Both were killed in violent attacks by trespassers and died alone, without back-up, communications equipment or weapons to defend themselves against their attackers.
I’m sure that their employers and the clients who contracted the security providers all thought that their property was safe and that security was there to provide basic level unarmed, uniformed security services under the model “observe and report”
There would be no interaction with persons committing serious crimes, no chasing the bad guy, no traffic stops or slamming people to the ground or handcuffing anyone and thus no need to arm the security officers.
96 times during 2016 and more than 2200 times during the past fifteen years, security companies and businesses all thought the same thing and were all willing to gamble that they were right. And those numbers don’t even include the thousands of other security and private police officers who are assaulted each year while protecting life and property.
It has really come down to a game of Russian Roulette with the security officer’s life being the bullet hoping that nothing goes wrong and doing nothing to prevent it.
Even after stripping down the basic duties of a security officer, most would agree to the Wikipedia and Webster’s Dictionary’s definition that the duties include; Securing premises and personnel by patrolling property; monitoring surveillance equipment; inspecting buildings, equipment, and access points; permitting entry. Prevents losses and damage by reporting irregularities; informing violators of policy and procedures; restraining trespassers.
Of course duties vary from assignment to assignment and state to state and may include such duties as apprehending shoplifters, breaking up fights, issuing summonses and making arrests.
Jack L Hayes International, a loss prevention consulting and risk management firm annually collects and reports shoplifter apprehensions from across the country recently reported that detentions by store security agents have been averaging about 1.4 million per year.
These apprehensions and the recovery of millions of dollars of stolen merchandise are the results of unarmed, poorly trained security personnel who risk their lives daily to protect their employer’s property.
We would agree that shoplifting is a crime in progress, frequently felonies and increasing committed by armed, combative offenders and organized gangs and yet we send these men and women out to make what equates to an arrest over a million times a year with no back-up, no training, no defensive weapons and little support.
Meanwhile, uniform security’s basic duties of questioning suspicious persons, responding to possible crimes in progress and being the first responder to workplace violence and active shooter situations are being done by persons no better equipped for their job than a construction worker who shows up on a jobsite without work boots, tools or a hardhat.
You can’t do the job without the proper training, equipment and direction from your superiors.
But, those mostly unarmed security officers still managed to subdue, battle and detain more than 750,000 bank robbers, murderers, assault suspects, trespassers, shoplifters, and others committing an array of crimes and posing grave danger to the public at a substantial risk to own safety.
A security officer patrolling a parking lot who comes upon an auto burglary, carjacking or other crime in progress becomes a victim rather than a defender.
Point in case, an unarmed St. Louis female transit security officer last year was tasked with issuing citations for fare evaders. When she tried doing her job, she was brutally attacked while others filmed the attack and laughed. Months later, another similar situation left a transit security officer shot to death.
For the past five years hospitals and colleges across the country have increasingly armed their security staff realizing that their frontline protectors can’t protect them if they can’t even protect themselves.
And the arming of security personnel will continue to rise as more businesses understand that security is their frontline defense and must be properly equipped and trained to respond to the threat.
But there has always been the argument of why they don’t need additional training and why they should not be armed.
For the contract security provider, it comes down to dollars and cents and liability.
Both are true and understandably valid arguments.
Contact security services spend more than 70 percent of their operational budgets on labor with little room for unforeseen or non-reimbursed expenditures such as overtime and training.
And as we all know, security like most service industries is an extremely competitive business and any company trying to build in training expenses into a contract could easily cause the proposal to be rejected.
This is why we must be able to present the reasons, the dangers and the needs to potential clients and get them on board with that additional equipment and training to protect the security officer and allow them to defend themselves and those that they have been hired to protect.
Liability and risks, both also a huge and valid concern are always lowed through training, strict recruitment and standards and adhering to a rigid risk management plan.
Until security and private police officers are locked into a bulletproof cubicle with no access to the public and no exposure to the risk of their jobs, injuries and deaths to these protectors will rise substantially and will soon surpass those of law enforcement.
Times have changed, duties greatly expanded, threats have increased and the reality of a security officer being assaulted, injured or killed is real and inevitable no matter the client, the city or the duties. It’s not if but when and most companies are still ignoring the facts, the headlines and statistics that like a bright light cutting through the darkness of a winter’s night, show what’s waiting ahead.
Do you still willing to gamble with your employees lives?