Security Officer Professionalism

Night Security officerSecurity has come a long way since the late 40’s and 50’s up to the late 1980’s where it was the norm for ex-servicemen and ex police to take on ‘watchman’ or ‘security’ roles in industrial, commercial and government complexes. The industry has expanded almost beyond belief with technology that, until recently, was exclusively in the hands of major powers and governments and new laws that directly and indirectly impact upon our profession. Our threat levels and risks have changed, bringing new challenges. The type of person now being attracted into the security industry has changed as a consequence; they are a more youthful, dynamic, person who sees the industry as a career.

Business and the public now have expectations of security that the industry must meet and exceed. Of course there is a compensator for this level of professional service. The industry and clients must recognize that the higher skill levels required and the superior level of service demanded by clients must also be reflected in the financial reward afforded the officer through their wage or salary.

With increased skills and responsibilities comes the reward through increasing the pay levels. The industry must be prepared to reward officers and guards with a livable wage or salary commensurate with their qualifications and skills that they are offering to provide the client. The old adage still runs true that ‘if you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys’.

What then do we demand of the Security Officer or Guard? What standards must they meet?

The security officer of this millennium must be well educated, articulate, smartly attired and professional in every way. Surveys conducted in Darwin (Australia) revealed that business and the public demanded stricter selection criteria and higher standards of professional behavior for those employed in the security industry. There is no doubt that these expectations are reflected in most other cities and towns in Australia and overseas.

In Australia, Certificate II and III in Security should be seen as just a start point for security training. Individuals must take every opportunity to enhance their professional training through specialist subject workshops, academic studies or even overseas training programs, available by correspondence. Diplomas in Security & Risk management and tertiary education courses are becoming more common both overseas and in Australia and are an excellent tool for gaining the edge in knowledge.

Individuals must have a sound working knowledge of all laws in which the security industry operates and highly developed inter-personal skills to complement their technical skills in security.

security guard monitoring monitorsContract as well as proprietary security staff operate in a wide range of working environments. This ranges from government work to hospital security, industrial security, commercial security, retail security, mining security, hospitality security and loss prevention in all its forms along with many other working environments where protective security is provided. The Security Officer of the new millennium must be aware of their role within these various environments and be trained accordingly.

It is imperative that officers get to know their clients business and understand its underlying culture. This knowledge will stand them in good stead when decisions have to be made quickly without having time to brief the client. By understanding the business and its culture, decisions can be made taking all into consideration ensuring that the clients’ best interests are always being protected.

Security knowledge should encompass physical security, administrative security (laws, policies and procedures etc), risk management, computer security and crime prevention strategies. Knowledge of business practices, administration and financial procedures is a definite bonus.

By having this overall knowledge professional security officers are positioned to take on advisory roles in business making them an attractive return on investment for any employer or client. One of the major complaints made by small businesses approached on the subject was that security staff did not communicate with their clients. There was no two-way communication and in many cases small business did not know what service security was actually providing apart from their physical presence.

By communicating with clients and offering advice based on in-depth security or crime prevention knowledge, the Security Officer increases their value to the client and to their employing company. In many cases they are the first person a business may see when a problem occurs. Security will make an appreciation of the incident and decide on further action, which may or may not involve Police attendance. As such their knowledge and experience is invaluable in assisting the client, thus maximizing their return on investment.

On the other hand the poorly trained Security Officer will often take one of three options:

  • Make the wrong decision and escalate the situation,
  • Do nothing and await advice from the client or their contracting company, or
  • Bluff their way through relying on luck to see them through the situation.

In any of these cases the temptation for the client to terminate their contract for security, based on lack of trust in the abilities of the officers’ concerned, is greatly increased.

What then must we look for in our Security Officers? They must:

  • be well educated.
  • be appropriately trained in their roles and duties.
  • be honest and confident in their abilities and knowledge.
  • be service orientated.
  • be curious and observant.
  • be mentally attuned to responding to critical incidents, without warning.
  • be loyal to their client as well as their employer.
  • have pride in themselves’ and their role in society.
  • have ready access to qualified and experienced Supervisors to provide mentoring, advice and guidance on situations out of the officer’s experience, thus gaining quality advice to maximize the learning value of the experience.

All the above rely on one important ingredient: training.

Training then is the cornerstone to the development of the professional security officer of this millennium.

This training can be gained through the traditional courses, tertiary studies, in-house training, mentoring, workshops and seminars or through researching published material and security trade magazines such as the one you may be reading now. All are a valuable source of knowledge.

The Security Officer or Security Manager who has the skills, knowledge, and experience back up with qualifications and excellent communications and interpersonal relationship skills will be seen as an excellent investment for any business or client.

Professionalism…. It’s more than a word. It’s an attitude that enhances capability and credibility

Posted in: Security guard career info

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