There are good ways to handle your contract security officers and bad ways. We break it down here. For CSOs and other purchasers of security services, you first need to define needs and roles.
• Ask the security firm for its recommendations on how to best secure your assets, as opposed to having a pre-set idea of what
you need in the way of security.
• Determine if security personnel are going to be “observe and report” or if they are to engage in the event of an incident. Observe and report security requires less training, is less expensive and most likely will result in less liability.
• Be aware that security personnel who are to engage should be better trained and well paid. They also could pose higher risk (as they can use excessive force) or fail to prevent what they are hired to protect, etc.
• Assume you need an armed security officer. A knee-jerk reaction to many serious incidents over the past few years has been to hire armed security, when in reality the hiring of an armed security officer may increase the chance of something bad happening.Determine if armed personnel is appropriate for the exposure you have: Government contracts, banks, protecting high-value property, etc. are more appropriate than fast food restaurants, schools and large public gatherings etc.
• Have the security personnel perform tasks outside of what has been contracted (shoveling snow, driving people, etc.). In the event of an accident during these operations, liability may fall upon your firm if the security firm does not have adequate insurance.
• Hire security personnel from the upper level of the candidate pool, such as former/retired law enforcement personnel. They have undergone extensive training and screening, and they provide a very favorable impression to employees and visitors.
• Make sure security personnel have situational training specific to the risks of your industry.
• Have periodic meetings with the security personnel’s supervisors to point out any issues or concerns to make sure that the security personnel are meeting your requirements.
• Pay below industry average.In many instances the security officer at the front desk is the first impression a client gets of your firm and you want to make sure they look professional and provide a professional appearance. Prior to 9/11, security professionals were treated more as a commodity, and firms would want to pay as little as possible to get that security officer firm. Since then, however, it became more important to have a well-trained security professional with a professional appearance.
• Try to save money by replacing security personnel with remote video monitoring without carefully analyzing what you are looking to protect and which solution will be most effective. Video monitoring alone is not always as effective a means of deterring crime as security officers. A hybrid approach of combining security personnel and video can serve as a more effective deterrent.
How to Ensure Effective Contracts
• Have clear post orders in contracts that make clear who, what and where you are protecting. A carefully worded contract does not hold you responsible for claims related to third parties or for incidents in locations that are not clearly stated in your post orders.
• Make it clear you are only providing security services for your clients and their employees and are not responsible for their customers/delivery persons or anyone else who comes onto the client’s premises. Numerous court decisions have held private security firms liable for injuries to persons the security firms did not contemplate protecting. These claims occur at the client’s premises with injuries to contractors, deliverymen, customers, guests and even the general public.
• Review any ambiguous contract language with your local insurance broker and attorney to make sure you are not exposing yourself to liability for which you are not properly insured. Also, make sure your insurance has all necessary coverage and endorsements required by the contract (Additional Insureds, Waiver of Subrogation, etc.).
• Sign contract language that is too one-sided in favor of the client, thus leaving your security officer firm unprotected. For example don’t “indemnify” the client for accidents caused solely by the negligence of the client. This shifts all of the client’s financial responsibility to your security officer firm. An ideal contract should clearly state the contracted firm will only be responsible if the negligence of one of its employees contributes to a claim.
• Having officers perform duties other than security services, such as chauffeuring or handyman services, unless your contract specifically states they are to perform such duties.
• Pick up liability that you are not insured for when adding a client as an “additional insured” on your insurance policy. Make sure you are only assuming liability for the operations you are providing for this client.
Hiring and Training
• Have extensive hiring procedures for your security officers, including background checks, references, personal interviews and a requirement for prior security industry experience.
• Have at least 24 hours of training consisting of pre-assignment and on-the-job training, as well as continuing “in service” training.
• Provide education and training to help security professionals understand and prevent lawsuits. “Litigation awareness” should focus on several components, including acting with professionalism and communicating respectfully and effectively. This type of education should cover how litigation works, teaching security officers what happens in a courtroom and how their words and actions can be used to affect a case.
• Think one type of training fits all. There needs to be situational training specific to the risks involved in any given industry. Look at the position and ensure you hire officers who are properly trained and equipped for the needs of the position.
• Assume any security officer can be armed. Use former law enforcement professionals as armed security officers. They have been specially trained to react appropriately with a weapon.