Security officers are our first line of defense and work tirelessly for our protection. Behind the public face of the security officer lives an expertly prepared and ever vigilant professional who is well-trained and highly knowledgeable about their location and
The security officer sector is growing rapidly and the need for our country’s officers to be comprehensively trained is vital. “Demand for security guard and patrol services is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 4.6 percent through 2014 to $25.0 billion and the number of guards employed by private security firms is expected to increase 2.6 percent per year to 740,000 in 2014,” states the Freedonia Group Private Security Services report. How can we ensure that these security officers go beyond basic training to meet the specialized needs of sector-specific industries? How can we keep this burgeoning physical security workforce ready and able to take on the daily challenges they face? And, how can training help the security officer excel in the divergent sectors they serve across multiple industries?
Learning and development must be constant and ever-evolving for today’s security officers and managers. This field represents a rewarding and demanding career choice and when done right, an opportunity to continually learn and grow on a personal and professional level. Through comprehensive training programs, security officers at varying locations across the country serve a critical role in helping to protect people and property and deterring crime.
As the Vice President of Learning & Development at America’s leading physical security services company, I oversee a team of more than 100 training specialists nationwide who work with our officers to ensure that they receive the customized training they need to excel. We have more than 55,000 employees and 120 offices that provide security for several thousand clients in many industries, including commercial real estate, higher education, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial and shopping centers and malls.
21st Century Security
Demands Specialized Training
I look at specialized training in security as analogous to selecting your major in college. While all security officers benefit from “core” classes, such as Basic Security Officer Training and Master Security Officer (MSO) training, they also need to select a “major” in healthcare or commercial real estate, for example, where they will learn the specific nuances and requirements of their sector. Conversely, a one-size-fits-all training mentality fails to recognize the complex and unique needs of different market sectors.
The best security training begins with a solid foundation. Once that core is place, it becomes the educational framework upon which specialized training, or the “major,” can be built.
Each market segment has its own examples that support the need for customized training:
Safety Top Priority in Petrochem Sector
The petrochemical sector presents a variety of security challenges in daily operations. As such, ensuring that officers have a comprehensive understanding of the daily operations of a petrochemical facility and that they are comprehensively trained in all areas of safety and security is essential. For example, our School of Chemical/Petrochemical Security training demands that officers are educated in all aspects of Maritime security, OSHA, HAZMAT and general safety guidelines as well as comprehensive training in fire safety, emergency preparedness, patrol and search techniques, evacuation procedures and terrorism awareness. All of these prepare security officers to respond to emergencies with particular attention to the new threats that have arisen in today’s society.
Municipalities Outsource Security
Municipalities are constantly under media scrutiny and when something goes wrong, it has the potential of becoming a major news event. The day-to-day concerns of protecting government facilities and other high-traffic areas demand highly trained, experienced and reliable officers who are accountable to their managers and clients and work in conjunction with law enforcement.
In the government sector, security officer training includes emergency preparedness topics from day one. These training courses, such as First Aid/CPR/AED, evacuation procedures, terrorism awareness and fire safety, to name a few, are important for all officers regardless of the type of site they protect or where it is located. Basic training lays the groundwork for operational success, regardless of the site, and helps ensure that officers will act quickly, competently and safely when faced with an emergency.
Creating Safe & Secure
Extensive training prepares security officers to handle situations specific to the healthcare market and includes fire safety, crisis prevention, domestic preparedness, blood borne pathogens and the management of aggressive behavior. Often, too, the mere presence of a professional healthcare security officer can enhance the atmosphere of safety for both staff and patients.
Patient satisfaction is often measured by a standardized survey called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), which provides hospitals with a standardized survey methodology for measuring patients’ perspectives on hospital care. Security officers who serve in healthcare environments understand that “white glove service” is essential in healthcare security as it pertains to exceeding patient care and customer service expectations.
Shopping Center Security
Shopping center security officers are trained as customer service ambassadors who shift from preventing a purse snatching to connecting a lost child to their parent, and using surveillance and evasion techniques effectively to help identify and prevent retail crime or control a potential flash mob. Security officers working in shopping malls juggle many disparate skills and require comprehensive training which includes customer service, security video monitoring and dispatch, detailed and accurate documentation and leading critical safety drills.
Securing Safe Campuses
Security personnel assigned to colleges and university settings need to understand the significance of the Clery Act. The Clery Act, named for Jeanne Clery, a freshman who was raped and murdered in her campus residence hall in 1986, requires all institutions of higher education to publicly disclose three years of campus crime statistics and security policies and procedures. Our School of Higher Education Security training also include training for domestic abuse, a growing crime on college campuses, with our officers trained to help define and identify domestic abuse and respond to such incidences. As the face of our country continues to diversify, it becomes more and more important that security officers understand, recognize and accept the differences in the people they will interact with every day. Diversity training covers the differences between discrimination and diversity; the dangers of stereotyping; the costs of ignoring diversity; and the benefits of diversity.
Security Officer Training
Understanding the need for market-specific training is just the start of a successful learning and development culture. Technology plays a significant role in this approach as training must be evolving, readily-available and accessible to those who need it. While classroom training is a crucial component of security officer training, technology tools have dramatically expanded the training horizon. While certain courses, such as report writing, for example, are best taught in the classroom setting where the security officer can engage in immediate classroom interaction with the instructor, others are highly successful when delivered online. Security officers are responsibly for assignments round the clock. Their training must therefore be available in accordance with their schedules. Our security officers who access the AlliedBarton EDGE®, www.alliedbartonEDGE.com, our professionally designed and executed approach to learning and development which offers convenience, accessibility and compliance tracking and reporting, engage in learning opportunities at a time and environment that works best for them.
By incorporating assessment tools in the training, security officers can work at their own pace to meet program milestones. Compliance requirements vary by state, and by specific sectors and clients. With virtual training, updated modules are continually added, creating an environment of continual learning and compliance. As security professionals focus on their specific sector, they are able to go beyond their “core training” and refine their expertise with in-person and online training in their “major” field of study.