For the past fifteen years you’ve heard me say that deaths of and injuries to, private security officers continue to increase every year. It’s more than just guesswork, it’s backed by hard data, much of which no other company or governmental agency has spent any real time studying. We have the statistical numbers, we’ve analyzed them and we know what it all means.
If you read the Private Officer Daily News Blog or receive our Breaking News Alerts and Newsletters, you know that our office has been reporting on every aspect of private security, especially violent encounters, workplace violence and the injuries and deaths of our front-line personnel.
I know through my own personal experiences working both in law enforcement and private security that in order to do the job safely, you must have the right information available to you to be able to identify and confirm threats including having the ability to immediately verify if a person is wanted by law enforcement, or if they are a suspect in area criminal activity or is in some other way a danger to public safety.
Likewise, it is imperative at many worksites to have immediate, dependable communications with a third party, dispatch center or other co-workers in times of emergencies.
As I have previously reported, most security and sworn private law enforcement die alone. That’s a fact. They die alone because they almost never have a communication device where they can communicate an imminent threat or an emergency in progress. Cellphones aren’t an option when you’re under attack or in a gunbattle.
Imagine what a gamechanger it would be if the security officer had the ability to know that a vehicle that had just entered the property was stolen or that the driver was a wanted felon.
Now imagine that officer having the ability of keying up a two-way radio microphone and calling for immediate police assistance.
Technology already allows for instant background and sex registries checks, and the ability to find out if a motor vehicle is stolen and who owns it. And all of this information is available to the public.
Shopping centers in numerous cities including America’s largest mall, already use License Plate Readers (LPR;s) which instantly alert the user when the vehicle is stolen or the driver is wanted for a crime.
A mall in New Jersey has used them since 2013.
Many hospital, college and shopping mall security staff issue parking citations. Some are for internal use only while others are municipal parking tickets. That means that they are interacting with drivers regularly and inspecting, surveying or touching vehicles frequently as part of their customary duties.
In many states and on many properties, some private security officers make detentions, stop suspicious persons and vehicles and engage with thousands of people every year who have committed either a private property infraction or a violation of criminal law.
Each interaction puts that private officer face to face with a person or persons who potentially could and might harm them.
Our internal studies in 2016 showed that 83.6 security officer deaths on the job was a direct result of an initiated action taken by the security officer to intervene in a crime in progress, investigation of suspicious activity or as a result of an ambush, assault or other criminal activity on the property.
In almost all of these fatal encounters, the security officer neither had emergency communication capabilities, additional manpower working with them or prior information that would have indicated that the vehicle or the person was a convicted or wanted criminal.
Sure, there are still some security accounts that are relatively safe and have few if any incidents, crimes or potential for an officer to be injured or fatally wounded.
But, the fact is, more security firms are engaged in mobile and foot patrol, enforcement of property regulations and criminal laws and more are providing highly visibility, engaging and “out in the open” personnel who challenge the violators and are continually in harm’s way during the performance of their duties.
Information and Communication are the keys to safety and in reducing the number of workplace violence not only to the officer but also to the employees of the client as well as reducing the number of security officer deaths.
So how can this be done?
Some companies already have their own in-house dispatch centers while smaller companies use local answering services, family members or other employees to act as dispatchers.
All of these can be effective as long as they are dedicated, alert and committed to being the officer’s lifeline.
Other methods of providing emergency communications might be to switch to PTT technology (Push to Talk) for all on-duty officers. These services which were previously offered through Nextel or similar companies are now available through Sprint and AT&T and other cellular providers.
We have been researching methods of cost effectively offering these information and communication services to our members.
If anyone has suggestions please contact me.
As the security industry continues to evolve, we must change how we operate.
The use of information and communication technology will save lives.