Security Guards: Leveraging as a Resource


Benefit or Burden?

Properly leveraging security guards, contract or proprietary, can have a significant and positive impact on a facility’s security program. Not properly utilized these resources can drain your security budget, increase liability, and provide for a false sense of security. The value these officers add to the business has a direct correlation to their selection, training, utilization and supervision.

The Dysfunctional Approach

Earlier in my career I conducted a security assessment at a large manufacturing facility. During the assessment I discovered the facility had three separate and independent video surveillance systems. That was my first clue that security at this facility might be a little dysfunctional. When I interviewed the contract security supervisor to inquire which of these systems they were monitoring, he replied “none of them”. He further explained that management did not trust them to monitor the systems and could not use them to monitor remote areas of the property.

Security Guards Best Practice

Organizations considering contract or proprietary security guards should conduct a risk assessment to determine the threats, vulnerabilities, and subsequent risks to their employees and assets. If the utilization of security officers will mitigate these risks, and the benefits will outweigh the costs, move forward but remember that security officers are not a commodity. There are well established functions and responsibilities for security officers that include:

  • Control of building entrances and movement of vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Perimeter and building patrol.
  • Escort of personnel.
  • Inspection of security, safety, and fire vulnerabilities.
  • Response to incidents and emergencies.

You can always add to these responsibilities but be careful those additional duties don’t detract from their primary responsibilities. A few things to keep in mind if your facility is using contract or proprietary security officers:

  • Ensure pre-employment screening of candidates meet your company’s requirements.
  • Require initial and recurring training of all officers – and document this training.
  • Clearly define your standards and performance expectations; and discuss these with the officers. (proprietary) or account manager (contract).
  • Provide close and regular supervision especially for newly hired officers.
  • Ensure the officers have clearly articulated general orders and post orders.

Supervision of Security Guards

Lastly, don’t forget about them. Very early in my career I worked some very long days and nights for very low pay. Some times the difference in staying motivated was simple acknowledgement by my clients of the valued service I provided. If you manage contract or proprietary security guards be sure to provide sound supervision and regular communications. They can be an invaluable and effective resource to protect your employees and valuable assets when properly leveraged.


About the Author

Jim Dale is the owner and principal of Seven Citadels Consulting. Jim brings to clients more than 30 years of security and risk experience in both the private and public sectors. Formerly the Chief Security Officer (CSO) for three Fortune 500 companies, Jim is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and was a career officer, commander, and special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. He is a certified threat manager (CTM) and board certified in security management as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP). Jim is a member of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP), the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) and ASIS International.