Do you have guards or officers?–Part 1

I don’t like the term guard because it demeans what we actually do. Yes we guard the lives and property of the company and client, but the term guard is a verb not a noun. If we call them officers, that puts them in a more professional light and hopefully they will live up to the new designation of a professional.

The question that many people have is “what the hell is the difference?” The difference lies in the perception of a lazy good for nothing rent-a-cop and a professional observer and protector. That is what we truly are, except in rare circumstances. Meaning that an officer has to go above the narrow definition that the municipality or state mandates.

It starts with management. They must refrain from using the term guard, unless it’s being used in a derogatory manner because of poor performance. Many security companies still call their officer’s guards as do their clients. They have been doing it for so long it is a habit and it’s a hard one to break. The level of training, pay, or ability doesn’t matter. They are all guards and nothing more. And not many people think of it differently because they have been conditioned to think that way. So the first thing is to change the perception of them.

The company and client can change, but you have to change the perception of the employees. And how can you do that, when the employees think that the officers are more of a hindrance than a help. Eventually the employees will follow management, to a certain extent in calling them officers. The officers must prove that they are worthy of the respect that calling them officers involves.

Next in the line of change are the officers themselves. The biggest question you will face is “How the hell do I do that?” The simple answer is…you can’t. It is up to them. You can certainly put into place disciplinary measures and a code of conduct but over and above that…it is their mindset. You can ask and order, but unless they are in the mind set to do it, then they won’t. To those guards, it’s all a bunch of hooey, and they don’t want to do anything more.

What do you have to ask and order them to do to become officers not guards? Again it is all up to them to want to change and be an officer not a guard. Hopefully, the following tips will help you answer that question for yourself;

  • Education

I don’t mean they have to have a Bachelor’s degree or any college education. Even if the individual is only a high school gaduat, they can be an excellent security officer. The key is to start learning and never stop, no matter what it is; security, local/national/World events, or computers. It all helps them to learn and establish their skills.

I consistently surprise people when I tell them I’ve never been to college. Many people ask me how I’ve become so educated in security, not to mention my specialty of workplace violence. I started learning and never stopped and that is the key. How did do that?

Before going blind I was used to reading as many as 4 – 5 newspapers a day. Additionally, I read magazines all the time as well. That’s where I self-educated myself. I read whatever and whenever I could, even industry specific magazines from clients.

I have managed security officers that were conscientious and dedicated to completing their assigned job in a professional manner, but they jes weren’t edumacated or looked thoroughly professional. On the other hand, I’ve also had ‘guards’ that had college degrees and could me to shame mentally, but they were guards.

The key is to let your officers know what’s going on within the company & industry. And it doesn’t matter what the industry is. If you are in a plastics plant, do you read any manufacturing or plastics magazines? Those are just as important. If you’re contracted, you have to know your client’s business and how it works in order to be effective and efficient.

Most companies will put you through an initial orientation training class to give you the basics, hopefully. It will be different from company to company, but remember this is generalized training. If you work proprietarily and the training is adequate, pay extra attention in orientation, because this is where you’ll first learn about being a professional officer. 

lastly, just because you’ve completed however many hours of training videos or OJT it’s not even close to being enough for  training you. Nothing can compare to the advantages of actually working the post and being trained on it, on-the-job training (OJT), and the black & white cleanliness of formal classroom training.

The 2nd part of this post will be next week.

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 Facebook page,, or twitter@robertsollars2.

                      I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

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