Throughout my career as a CSO, I have had the opportunity to manage proprietary and contract security forces, as well as having had a very large hybrid operation that was a mix of both proprietary and contract security officers. Security forces play different roles in different industries and, for that matter, with different companies within the same industries. The role ranges from the old-fashioned night watchman to highly skilled first responders and a broad range in between.

A well trained and motivated security force performs many important functions. The officers may be armed or unarmed, uniformed or plain-clothed. They may have stationary posts or may be on patrol. They may run the Security Operations Center where they field administrative and emergency calls, dispatch first responders (internal and/or external), monitor alarms and security video, and manage the switchboard for the enterprise either on a full-time or after-hours basis. In many enterprises, the security force includes a cadre of Emergency Medical Technicians who are credited for saving many lives that may have otherwise been lost waiting for local municipal emergency services.

Frequently security personnel create the first impression of an enterprise. In many instances they control access to the enterprise’s site or a specific building to which an employee, contractor, vendor, supply chain partner or a visitor needs to enter to support the enterprise’s operations. Properly selected and trained security forces become “ambassadors” for the enterprise… while poorly selected and trained security officers can leave a lasting impression that is either negative or may even be detrimental to the enterprise. The security force is a vital element in the resiliency of many enterprises… somewhat in the same manner as an insurance policy.

The point of all this is to highlight an issue that should be front and center with individuals charged with the responsibility of managing the security force for the enterprise. When was the last time you assessed the quality of your security force personnel? Do you ensure that the security officers get paid a living wage, or do you acquiesce to the procurement organization whose primary focus is on reducing costs and as a result, treat service providers as commodities?

Most enterprises have a Standard of Business Conduct and Values.  Is the manner in which you manage your security force consistent with your enterprise’s values?  Make it a priority to establish living wages for your security personnel! Put yourself in their shoes... could you afford to live in your community on their wages? Carefully select security personnel and provide them on-going training. Above all else, treat them with dignity and respect, and not as a commodity!