Security Officer Duties
We know our world is changing, which can be evidenced in the frequent news reports regarding active shooters, workplace violence, civil unrest, and other forms of stresses on our society. In the past many businesses and institutions have escaped the majority of violence because it was often directed to certain types of businesses, persons, or facilities based on defined factors.
For example, we have known for years that banks and convenience stores have a higher than average risk for armed robbery. However, the world is changing right before our eyes and no longer can we assume that a violent act will not occur at our business, at a location that we may shop or dine at, or at a place where our families frequent for education, vacations and so on.
As a result of the ever changing environment that we live in businesses and schools have in many cases sought to increase their security services, whether those increases are with security technology or security staffing. Often times this is either a result of an incident that occurred at that location, or in the case of school shootings we have seen changes made throughout the country, even in places where they have not experienced a tragic incident.
Security Officers or Police Officers
In the last two decades the number of businesses that have hired security officers has increased, especially since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The roles of security officers have also changed during that time, and in some cases their duties have either been elevated to more of a law enforcement role, or they may have migrated into more of a customer service role.
In the last few years several security departments have become certified police departments. Often the reason behind this is that the organizations have found that their local law enforcement agency has either cut services or cannot always provide an acceptable response time due to budget cuts or other calls for service.
Whether your organization employs security officers or police officers it is imperative that you fully understand all related risks.
Security Officer Duties
Some contract security companies and even some security managers that are on staff at organizations offer additional service they may refer to as “value added.” Basically, they are offering additional services not normally related to security protection as a means in which to justify their contracts or employment. The question is can we really afford to lessen the role of security officers in the name of “value added” services?” The “adding value” to a security program by relegating security officers to perform non-protection related duties should be carefully evaluated as part of your security risk assessment.
Even with all of the violence that we hear about almost daily, there are businesses that use their security staff for duties other then the protection of their company assets, staff, and customers. For example, we have found security officers being used as couriers where they are used to deliver mail, food, newspapers, and numerous other items. We have also seen where security officers are used to wash company cars, change flat tires, act as receptionists, valet cars, change light bulbs, replace phone books, and perform plumber duties. These are just a few of the non-security related duties that security officers perform every day at some organizations, and yet those same organizations often find that the perception of their security operation is less than desirable, and they cannot figure out why.
Security Officer Perception
Does your organization’s staff have 100% confidence in your security officers to respond appropriately to a serious security incident? Now many people reading this may say yes without any hesitation, but the fact of the matter is we have found more organizations than not where staff has expressed concerns regarding the ability and readiness in their security officers. This often comes to light during a review conducted by a security expert from outside the organization.
When was the last time that you sought the assistance of an outside security expert to review and assess your security operations to see if they are aligned with industry standards and best practices? Or should we ask have you ever conducted such an assessment? Do you even know how your staff perceives your security program?
The perception of your security staff is critical in these days of increasing violence and the potential for an active shooter or terrorist event. If as a means in which to “add value” to your security program your organization has delegated security officers to perform duties other than those directly related to the protection of your assets, you may be setting your organization up to fail in the event of a serious security incident, and you may be increasing your liability exposure.
Security Operations Liability
Liability exposure related to security officers has been on the increase over the last several years. Security experts who provide expert witness services have stated numerous times that the number of cases being litigated are on the rise, and claims for security negligence and premises liability are becoming more common.
As a result some organizations have chosen to contract out their security services believing that that will transfer all liability to another company. In one such case a university vice president claimed that the reason they contracted out security was so that the security company would be liable for all adverse security incidents, not the university.
In order to fully understand your liability exposure as it relates to your security program and security officers, an organization needs to identify their existing security risks, threats, and vulnerabilities and determine how their program aligns with industry standards and best practices.
Existing security industry standards and best practices will likely be used in any litigation that your organization may face after a security incident, so it would be wise to insure that your organization comprehends your existing risks and that you have taken corrective actions that are reasonable.
It is also a good idea to get an unbiased evaluation of your security operations and how your security officers are perceived by the people that they are charged with protecting.