Security in 2021
Well we just about made it through 2020! This last year has been a challenge for everyone due to the pandemic. There have also been numerous issues, complaints and/or concerns with regards to excessive force by police officers and security officers. Several security officers across the country have found themselves being charged with crimes such as negligent homicide, manslaughter, and other serious felony crimes. Is this the new normal?
Security Challenges for 2021
As I have said before, there are many cases where security officers are mistaken for police officers. There are also cases where security officers act as if they are police officers, when in fact they have no more power than the average citizen.
We have also talked about the issue of security officers’ uniforms being almost identical to the local police department’s uniforms, and thus this can improperly empower the security officer to exercise more authority than he/she has.
In some states there are laws that clearly spell out what a security officer uniform can and cannot include, such as the uniforms cannot be similar with any police uniforms. In other sates there are vague laws or no laws, and therein may be the problem.
For example, I have had security directors tell me that they intentionally give their security officers uniforms that look like the police. They claim that the security officers will get more respect. However, I have not been able to find any studies or research papers that support such a claim.
Make no mistake, when I inquired into the practice it was more than obvious that the security director/manager was only trying to set up their own police force under the premise of a security department. When asked if they could be placing their security officers in danger, I was told “so far there has been no issues and staff and others think they are actually police officers”. Interesting line of thought, and at least they were honest about it.
Arming Security Officers
The arming of security officers, both contract and proprietary security officers, seems to have increased in the last few years. The requests by senior management to evaluate their security department with the possibility of arming their staff has been on the rise; at least with many of my clients. My first question is, “Why?”
I go on to ask about recent incidents that the use of deadly force was needed, or what serious felonies occurred on their property where an armed security officer would have made a difference? Not surprisingly, no one has been able to provide any such cases.
Look, I do not want to beat a dead horse with regards to the arming of security officers, but I am suggesting that you take a step back and really think that decision through. Retain the services of a security expert that will give an unbiased opinion, one that is not making a decision based on their desire to create a quasi-police force or increase their bottom-line. By increasing their bottom line, I am referring to a contract security firm that charges more for armed security officers.
Remember this if nothing else, in today’s climate if one of your security officers uses deadly force, even if it is justified, that security officer and your organization will be placed under extreme scrutiny and examination. You will also more than likely be subjected to civil litigation, and the lawyers will be bringing in their security experts to go over your records, training, policies and hiring practices to name a few things, so be prepared. Do not be surprised if the district attorney charges the security officer, especially if there was any issue with regards to the security officer overstepping their authority, it has happened several times in 2020.