Security: What They Do

The material of this article was collected, edited, and arranged by Dave Pflueger in June 2016.


Patrol individuals are operational personnel and they provide basic security work and services within the community. Because they are often in public areas these individuals are the most visible and accessible for the everyday person. They monitor activities, record incidents they witness, investigate suspicious activities, detain individuals they have witness committing a crime, perform building and site inspections, and respond to calls for general assistance. When an incident happens, they could be one of the first ones on the scene. When they are, they encourage the public to move to safe places, secure the area, and preserve the site. Because they are in the public one of their greatest responsibilities is foster good relations between those who provide public safety and the community.


In addition to the basic work of a security guard, a Sergeant performs all the duties and responsibilities of a shift supervisor. They supervise individuals, perform basic managerial duties of their assigned unit, and provide initial leadership actions at incidents. Whether the Sergeant leads a large group or a small team, the position requires in-depth knowledge of the job and the ability to motivate individuals to meet expectations and goals.


In addition to the basic work of a security guard, a Lieutenant performs all the duties and responsibilities of an assistant program manager. In some organizations, there are two grades, sub/lower lieutenant and lieutenant. They are a bridge between operational personnel and management personnel. In many ways, the responsibilities of a Lieutenant are an expansion of those of a Sergeant.

In England, a police lieutenant is known as an inspector.


In addition to the basic work of a security guard, a Captain performs all the duties and responsibilities of a program manager. They oversee entire units or special projects. In many ways, the duties and responsibilities of a Captain are an expansion of those of a Lieutenant.

In England, a police captain is known as a chief inspector (three diamonds)

Above the level of Captain is the administration and executive branches. These are the Administrators of human resources, finances, marketing, risk management (legal), communication (especially electronic communications – IT), client procurement and retaining (sales).



25. Security Observation Patrol


For many years now, the Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police have encouraged partnerships between local law enforcement and private security companies. Both believe that law enforcement and private security are stronger when they work together as partners. One area of possible partnership would be observation patrols. In some communities this could be an expansion of a current neighborhood observation patrol program and in other communities it would be an entirely new program.

Both city and county law enforcement departments have stated over and over again that they cannot be everywhere and observe what is happening in neighborhoods and business districts. From these concerns many departments have developed volunteer civilian neighborhood observation patrols. These civilian volunteers patrol areas, observe places of concern, and report suspicious or unlawful activity to an assigned law enforcement officer. Because their work requires dedication and is time consuming, it cannot be done by a private security guard, unless contracted to do so. Nonetheless, private security companies could participate in the patrol element of the program. In cities and counties that do not have neighborhood observation patrols private security companies could be an additional asset that uses an already existing set of eyes on the streets.

Private security guards that are assigned to vehicle patrols spend countless hours on the streets, driving from one client site to another. While they are commuting from one site to another they can be an extra set of eyes for local law enforcement. These individuals have been trained to observe and take notice of things outside of the norm and they have also been trained not to engage in activities, but instead report them. This makes them perfectly suited for observation patrols. With the proper form of communication, they can perform this service without taking time away from their regular duties and responsibilities.

Communication is the real devil in the details, because the security guard must be able to make the report while in route to the next client site without delay. If the communication between the security guard and law enforcement is cumbersome, it will slow down the security guard and cause an intolerable delay. Therefore, this kind of observation patrol will need a seamless line of communication between the security guards and the law enforcement community. While I personally believe that it would be better for the security guards to have a means to directly contact a member of the law enforcement community, I realize that the local 911 operations is most likely the preferred option for many.

When you call 911 the operator is going to be asking the kind of questions that will develop an initial report that will assist law enforcement to respond appropriately. However, this process is often too detailed and time consuming for a security guard who is simply calling to report suspicious activities and observations. Remember, time management is critical. Therefore, using a 911 operation as a call in center for a security observation patrol would require the phone operators to be oriented to receiving a report without developing it with details. With this in mind, a simple format that can be memorize by both the reporting security guard and the 911 operator would be the most prudent method.

Here is an example of a simple format. The 911 operator answers the phone and says, “what is the nature of your emergency (or similar words)?” The guard says, “security observation patrol.” The operator then would say, “identify yourself?” Then the guard says the name of security company they work for and either their employee number or other company identification. An example of this would be, “acme security and I am security officer 123abc.” After the operator has processed this information, the operator says, “what are you reporting?” The guard will give a one sentence report. For an example, “A broken door window at John’s flower shop at 123 main street” or “a fight involving several individuals in the parking lot of big box store at the corner of east street and main street.” The guard ends the report with the words, “report submitted.” After the operator has processed the report, the operator says, “Thank you for the report, goodbye (or something similar).” As you can clearly see, time management is at the core of this format.
One might ask, why request an employee number? The reason is simple, some names are challenging to write and record. If someone has an uncommon name, it can be time consuming to record. Giving the name of the security company and the employee number (or other company identification) will be enough information for the law enforcement community to easily find the reporting security guard.

It would be a great benefit for the local law enforcement community to have security guards as a partner that provides an additional set of eyes in the neighborhoods through security observation patrols and it is the kind of partnership that the Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police envision for the future of public safety. As for the private security companies, the general public tends to have a positive response to business that promotes their safety and well-being. So having their officer’s participate in security observation patrols would be good for their public image and could also be beneficial for them in other ways. In closing, this program would cost law enforcement nothing and the gain for law enforcement is an invaluable asset.

Written by Dave Pflueger August 26, 2016 (c) copyrighted by Pflueger. Dave is a former Correctional Chaplain of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and certified for mental health peer counseling.

22. Security Guard Basics: Active Shooter


What I have written here should only be seen as a seed for thought, I strongly encourage everyone to contact security professionals for more information and insight on this subject.
When someone has a hand gun or a rifle and has begun to shoot at objects and individuals, either randomly or targeted, it is called an active shooter incident and requires all first responders to be at their highest level of professionalism. Because of the damage a gun can inflict, the needs of the survivors, and the grief felt by family, friends, and first responders an active shooter incident is also one of the most traumatic incidents that a first responder will experience. An active shooter incident requires team work, with everyone contributing to the conclusion of the incident.
ALERTS: I remember talking with one of my instructors of the Spokane COPS training program, he said this about preparations for an active shooter incident, at the beginning of the incident an alert should be sent to everyone involved and this alert should be silent or natural to the environment so as to not draw the attention of the shooter.
But which businesses need such an alert? This is a good question and I would advise all businesses to consult with a security expert and get their advice on alerts. If you are advised to develop an alert, do not hesitate in doing so and practice it like you would a fire drill. Unfortunately, like a fire, you never know when an active shooter will visit and so you should be prepared, both in your protocol and with your mind. This is a sad, but very real part of our world today.
RUN: During an active shooter incident avoiding and running away from the shooter is priority one. If no one is there, then no one can be shot.
This requires knowledge of every possible means of safely existing a building. As a simple rule, fire exists are good because they are designed to get people quickly out of a building. When you see a shooter or get an alert you should immediately go to the assigned exists for an activate shooter incident. Do not look for personal belongings, do not search for a friend, do not use a hand held devise, just leave as quickly and quietly as you can.
Like in fire drills, after existing the building having an assigned place to meet allows everyone to be accounted without confusion. This place should be identified in the exit plan.
Once you leave the building you might be confronted by a law enforcement officer. Do not be surprised or even upset if he/she tells you to keep your arms up and your hands visible, he/she is acting with an abundance of caution, because there have been shooters who have attempted to escape by blending in to the crowd leaving the building.
HIDE: If you cannot escape the building during an active shooter incident, then you should gather with others in the building or on the same floor in a room identified for this purpose. This is often referred to as sheltering in place. You should turn off the lights and if possible any electronic devices. Cell phones should be in a muted format or turned off. Barricade the door and if possible lock it. Make every attempt at keeping low to the ground and stay away from windows. Use an appropriate object as a barrier and remain behind it. Stay quiet and control your emotions. If you have a security guard in the room, let him/her make the decisions regarding safety. Do not leave this room until you have made actual contact with law enforcement.
A Safer Room. There should be offices and/or side rooms that appear to be typical and normal in every way, but in reality are rooms that have been identified as “safer rooms” for those who cannot escape the building during an active shooter incident. These are not safe rooms, because no room is safe when confronted by a well-armed individual. But these rooms are safer than the others in the building. These rooms should have only one door with a bolt lock, the door and frame should of industrial grade and strength, it should have furniture that can either stop or slow down bullets, and items that can be easily used as barricades for the door. There should also be a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit in this room.
FIGHT: This is a “if all else fails” option. If you cannot avoid and flee from the shooter and all attempts at hiding have failed, then fight becomes the option by default.
However, let me be very clear, because of the danger and potential loss of life, security guards should avoid this kind of confrontation whenever possible, because it can only happen if they are close enough to the shooter to engage in hand-to-hand combat.
This kind of combat requires a high skill level and should be avoided by anyone without this training. Simply put, if you “think” you can do it, you cannot. Because it is a form of training that becomes instinctive, a natural reaction. Therefore, if a security guard does not have hand-to-hand combat training, they realistically have only two option, fleeing and hiding.
To enhance their skill level, I would encourage all private security guards to receive Krav Maga self-defense training and maintain this level of training throughout their career as a security officer. Unfortunately, many of the instructors who provide Krav Maga training charge a rate that is prohibitive to many security guards, who only earn a basic hourly wage.
Written by Dave Pflueger July 2016 (c) copyrighted by Pflueger. Dave is a former Correctional Chaplain of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and certified for mental health peer counseling.

20. Why Security Guards Do Not Pursue Shoplifters


One of the most heart wrenching things a security guard can hear from a store employee is, stop that man, he is stealing from the store. Why? When there is only one security guard, which is often the norm, they must follow wisdom and not an immediate sense of justice. From all appearances it sounds reasonable, after all that is what security guards are there to do, protect store property from being removed from a store without payment first. But this is the commonly accepted appearance of a security guard and not the reality of the circumstances.

The circumstances that surround shoplifting today is very different from the 1950’s, when shoplifting was done by bored kids looking for something to do or by a very poor mother looking to give her hungry child an apple. The shoplifter of today is more likely to have a chemical addiction, associated with organized street gangs, or their mental health may be compromised by a psychological condition, all of which are potentially very dangerous. While a commissioned police officer has the training and immediate resources to confront individuals with a chemical dependency issues or those involved with street gangs, the typical security guard does not.

Again, in appearances the shoplifter may look like the average person, but when confronted by an authority figure like a uniformed security guard, a person with a chemical addiction or a mental health condition can become defensive and combative, because the uniformed individual is perceived as someone who will prevent them from supporting their habit or take away something they currently cherish.  Their altered minds to not allow them to follow reason and common sense, and when you find yourself in a potentially physical confrontation with them it is very dangerous on so many different levels.

Every security guard has been trained on the realities of one-on-one confrontation with the shoplifter of today and what can happen if they attempt a citizen’s arrest under a Merchant Statute. They know if they are alone this can be a dangerous and life-threating event.  Therefore, when you see a security guard is not pursuing a shoplifter, it is not because they do not what to make an arrest, it is because they have chosen wisdom rather than an immediate sense of justice. The security guard would rather have the store security cameras and their written report be another chapter in that criminal’s history, then face a lengthy stay in a hospital or worse. In the security guard community this is called, being a good witness.

Written by Dave Pflueger in May 2016 (c) copyrighted by Pflueger. Dave is a former Correctional Chaplain of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and certified for mental health peer counseling.