If we don’t, we need to as quickly as we possibly can. I’m not talking about criminals, terrorists, drug cartels, or any dictator. Here is a story I heard several years ago from the Seattle area is one of the reasons why;
A young woman was beaten and stomped in front of three security ‘guards’ who made no move to intervene, citing that they had standing orders to not get involved but rather they should only observe and report anything that was ‘unusual’ or a crime being committed. Was there any legal, moral, or ethical justification for not getting involved?
This is yet one more episode where the observe & report mentality is used as justification by security companies, their clients, or companies to do nothing but sit on and twirl their thumbs. To stand around and do nothing while someone is killed or severely injured/wounded crying for help is both morally & ethically wrong, despite what their post orders were, or actually are. Unfortunately, they probably would have gotten fired for leaving their post unattended if they had assisted her.
If you look at the headlines across the country in recent years you’ll notice a plethora of incidents where a security officer or c-store clerk, fought a robber to a standoff and chased them away. Then the business fired them for not following company policy or protocol.
I would not ask any security officer to be the morality or ethical police guardians of the company. They have enough to do who what they are already tasked with within the realm of their company/site. Nor would I say that officers should leave post for any reason, unless lives are at stake.
But as I have stated, for more than 25 years, at the least, and reiterated when the verdict against U.S. Security Associates of Georgia several years ago, observe and report is outdated and plain and simple just doesn’t work. But it is still around and the staple of security departments across the country.
And since it is still around and causing a lot of argument, yes it is an argument amongst people; I decided to revisit the issue here. The observe and report mentality that our officers are shoved into is outdated, outmoded, and there is only one reason for it to be around. Liability for the contractor & client/company.
The argument is because contractors don’t want more than an observe & report mentality from their ‘guards’, or put it another way lowly trained minions who blindly follow orders. I believe that there are several reasons for this;
- They don’t trust their officers to do the right thing. Which directly relates to training, pay, & selection/recruitment. These items need to be brought into the 21st century to stay ahead of the threats we face.
- The contractor may get sued if the officer does the wrong thing in the situation for which they may not have been specifically and properly trained. Hmmm kinda relates to the above
- They lose the contract for doing something the client doesn’t want done on or off property, even if it was the right thing to do. Again, kinda relates to the other 2 dudn it?
- Not losing a revenue stream even if it violates moral & ethical concerns.
They don’t want more than an observe & report mentality either for just about the same reasons. They want an insurance break, generally. And if the officer does more than the normal observe & report then they can be sued by …whoever may want to.
In our overly litigious world today, even the delivery man 20 miles away may want to sue because they’re ‘scared of the big mean security officer at the gate’ and see an easy payday because of the situation and what they may do while they are on site.
As I have stated several times in the recent past this mentality of observe & report MUST be executed and buried for all time. It is up to us as security professionals to change this mindset, some way. And do it before an incident like San Bernardino, Orlando, or Ft. Lauderdale occurs again in this country.
We need to start thinking as if we are under siege in Mosul not a financial war. Not saying that we need to hunker down, arm our officers and police with Uzi’s, and have armored vehicles patrolling the grounds or building. But we need to get our officers better trained and stop treating the security industry, at least for those at the bottom, as a stopgap until something better comes along.
If you read my post several years ago about the Israeli model of private security and the model of security in the United States, you can clearly see what needs to be done. It is a matter of the 3 things I mentioned above, recruitment/selection, training, & pay, and not the old fashioned warm body syndrome that far too many security companies fall into the quicksand with, that we absolutely, at all costs, must avoid.
But because of the competitiveness and cut throat attitude of many security companies, and encouraged by clients, which hasn’t changed in the nearly 35 years I’ve been in it, it will always come down to who does it cheaper and with fewer problems to bring to the clients attention than a competitor.
One of these days, I postulate by 2020 maybe 2025, we will regret that mentality. And unfortunately, it will be regret, born of the body count or financial resources that were lost. Because the shortsightedness, usually, they couldn’t see past the $$$$ signs.
Robert D. Sollars assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of WPV as well as other security/customer service related issues with time tested and proven ideas. You can follow him on his upcoming new website www.robertdsollars.com or twitter@robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear