Security: What They Do

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

PATROL OFFICERS

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.

SERGEANT

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.

LIEUTENANT

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.

CAPTAIN

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).

 

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23. Security Observation Patrol

partnership

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.

20. Why Security Guards Do Not Pursue Shoplifters

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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 nt.  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.

There is another reason why security guards do not pursue shoplifting suspects and this one is not always noticeable. Some corporations operate with two different security companies. One company provides uniformed security guards and the other provides loss prevention officers. When a store has separated uniformed security guards and loss prevention officers there is often clear boundaries. Many loss prevention security companies do not want the uniformed security guards to apprehend shoplifting suspects. This policy often leads to some very frustrated local store managers, because when they see a shoplifter moving towards the door they want immediate action. They want the uniformed guard to confront the individual and retrieve the items. This leaves a uniformed guard in a very awkward position. On the one hand they want to make the store manager happy and on the other hand they have to comply to the directives given by their company. So the next time you see a uniformed guard allowing a shoplifter to run out the door it does not mean that the suspect is going unnoticed, the company that is providing loss prevention services most likely has recorded the suspect on video.

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.