Deadly Force by Armed Security

 In Blog Postings, Case Study, Education, Healthcare Security, Hospitality, Places of Worship, Retail Security-Loss Prevention, Transportation, Uncategorized

The number of deadly force incidents involving an armed security officer has been on the rise. The news media reports almost daily of a deadly force incident where a security officer’s firearm was used. As such, there many security officer is being charged with murder, manslaughter, or some similar penal code violation.

Improper Use of Deadly Force

What is often the case is that the security officer decided to use deadly force when it was not needed. For example, the officer may escalate the level of force without following a use of force continuum. Basically, they escalate to deadly force before taking any less-than-lethal steps. This is often the result of the security officer not being properly trained or managed.

Security Officer Use of Force

Over the years I discovered that in many cases of deadly force, where the security officer was subsequently charged with a serious felony, those security officers were employed by a contract security company. Why is this important? Basically, contract security officers often receive fewer training hours than security proprietary officers. In addition to that, contract security officers often work without a supervisor onsite.

So, to sum the differences up, the contract security officer in many cases has far fewer training hours than a proprietary security officer, and the contract officers will often work without a supervisor onsite. It is my opinion that those factors often result in the contract security officer taking measures into their own hands. So, when you are posting under-trained security officers on a job site, where they have no supervision, you equip them with a firearm, and they are not fully trained to perform their duties, you are asking for trouble.

Arming Security OfficersDeadly Force

With the violence that is occurring daily across the globe, and the numerous cases of an active shooter incident occurring almost daily, I get asked often by my clients if they should arm their security officers. The answer to that question is never black and white in my opinion. In fact, it often requires a very lengthy conversation, where I ask a lot of questions of the client.

I will ask for a comprehensive listing of past incidents where they believed that deadly force would have been justified. They will also be asked for policies already in place, or the final draft of policies that they plan on implementing regarding use of force and continuum of force.

Their training program will be reviewed, including the qualifications of the trainers. Basically, I require proof that they have planned for arming of security officers in a comprehensive manner. Also, that they have considered the elevated risks that they are going to find themselves in once they arm the officers.

Due Diligence

Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the facts of past incidents so as to justify the implementation of firearms. In a nutshell, if you are asking for my opinion on arming security officers come with facts, statistics, clear examples of past incidents where a firearm could have made a difference in the outcome. Prepare a comprehensive written plan complete with the training program, trainer qualifications and selection criteria, and finalized draft policies. Absent a clear, concise, and extremely well documented planning process, that demonstrates your organization’s due diligence process, I cannot support such a plan.

I will however give you directions as needed. I can provide published materials, best practices, standards, guidelines, and research papers that I have, or that I can find. Basically, I will do what I can to help you get the facts and documentation to conduct your due diligence. My goal will be to be that trusted advisor that you need, to provide the best possible security outcome.

Who, What, Where, When, How and Why

Before your organization arms the security staff with firearms, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you have the resources to provide the best initial and ongoing training for the staff?
  • Have you developed a training program in writing that can be reviewed by a security expert?
  • How will you decide which officers will be armed?
  • Will you conduct new and more comprehensive background checks on the officers, including a psychology assessment?
  • Is your organization willing to accept the use of deadly force?
  • What non-lethal equipment have you already placed in use, or considered for use, by your officers?
  • Will the security officers be allowed to carry those weapons, to and from work?
  • Have you developed a comprehensive plan, in writing, that has been reviewed by unbiased security experts and legal counsel?
  • Have you consulted with your local law enforcement to get their input?
  • Have you considered bringing in an independent security expert to go over your plans, or assist in writing them and/or your policies?

Note: A security guard service is not independent and impartial in most cases if they are seeking your business for security staffing, alarm monitoring, or equipment.

There are more questions than those listed above that need to be asked and answered, these are just a starting point. If you are considering arming your security staff, or hiring a armed security contractor, give me a call and let’s talk.

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