Hollywood has not been kind or accurate in its portrayal of the security officer. Films such as “Mall Cop,” “National Security,” “Run, Fat Boy, Run” and “Observe and Report,” depict more fiction than fact in these comic portrayals. In reality, security officers are diligent, highly trained men and women who act as our country’s first responders. Security officers have a wide range of training and skills and must be prepared to respond to everything from a fire or a medical emergency to a lost child situation or a power failure. Security officers are often put in high-risk situations as they confront and detain criminals engaged in theft, trespassing, gang activity and every other manner of unlawful behavior that occurs where they patrol.
“The U.S. market for security guard and patrol services will increase 5.2 percent annually to $24.5 billion in 2016,” reports The Freedonia Group. “Through 2016, the number of guards employed by private security firms is projected to rise 2.8 percent annually to 655,000.”
As the industry continues to grow, there is an increased need for sophisticated recruiting, screening and hiring processes, as well as a strict commitment to hiring quality personnel who are the right fit for the position. This is essential to hiring only the best candidates. Attracting top talent is critical to the future of the physical security sector. Many people don’t realize that the physical security sector actively promotes from within by encouraging continual training, education and certification.
This is an industry where a hard-working security officer committed to outstanding customer service and training can rise to the highest levels of management. In fact, at our company, one of our Division Presidents joined as a security officer and today oversees thousands of people. Many other security officers have risen to managerial and director level positions. The security industry welcomes applicants from all socio-economic levels and provides an avenue by which a high school graduate committed to continual training can rapidly rise through the ranks to management.
Freedonia notes that there is an “ongoing interest in better trained, more skilled and more experienced guarding personnel, who can provide additional services from concierge and reception services to emergency first aid services. These types of security officers, who often must combine technical expertise, legal knowledge, and a high-level of social skills, generally command significantly higher wages compared to those with less training who provide more basic static or patrol services.”
A recent survey of security leaders identified that the single most important attribute of their security program was the attitude of their security officers. And important part of ensuring that security officers have a good attitude is matching them to the right position. Beyond the specific qualifications for a given position, finding the right fit is also essential. Hiring managers who are equipped with the tools needed to match candidates to positions where they are more likely to excel can make better, more informed hiring decisions that result in happier employees. The background and personality profile of a security officer that is appropriate for a customer-centric position at a commercial office building varies dramatically from a security officer who is on point at a maritime port checkpoint, for example.
By matching candidates with the roles they are best suited for, employee engagement grows and that leads to better security service. This also helps the security officer climb the ladder to success with his or her career.
Few companies can tie their employees’ performance to life and death repercussions. In the security world, our officers serve a critical role each and every day. A company’s care and nurturing of security officers results in priceless dividends. The first responders to many emergencies are not medical staff or law enforcement but security officers. When security officers are well trained, they are positioned to step in and help save lives.
Training and expertise in CPR was critical to the heroic events behind the 2013 ASIS Ralph Day Security Officer of the Year award which was presented to Myisha Pullum by the ASIS Security Services Council.
Pullum was conducting rounds near the pool at the Coronado Shores condominium complex in Coronado, CA, when she came upon an unconscious child with a parent who was attempting to shake him to consciousness. Officer Pullum took control of the situation and began administering CPR. After five minutes of CPR, water was expelled from the child’s lungs, and the child began to breathe on his own.
The child was treated at a local hospital and was released in good health. Security Officer Pullum’s attentive response and professionalism made the critical difference between a positive outcome and a tragic event. Officer Pullum’s timely actions reflect her dedication to duty, the application of her training, and concern for the safety of the community she serves.
Security teams also routinely step in to assist in emergency situations that require their expertise and leadership. Security teams providing services to facilities near the Boston Marathon in 2013 quickly took action when the first bomb exploded. They assisted in the evacuation of the grandstands and remained to assist with the security operation and lend a helping hand in any way they could despite the tragedy that was unfolding before them.
When security officers’ experience, skills and personalities are aligned with their assigned duties, they are in a position to excel. The examples of this success are seen every day across America as security officers make a critical impact in our workplaces, schools and communities. The physical security sector needs our country’s best and brightest people to take a fresh look at this market as it presents meaningful career opportunities. As the security sector continues to evolve, we need to promote our growth and advancements so that professionals see value in a security career. As an industry we must also work to combat negative stereotypes that are not at all a realistic portrayal of the hard-working men and women who strive to maintain safe and secure environments every day. These efforts will help attract top talent and in turn, those talented security professionals will help our industry continue to advance.