Another news story surfaced this week that casts a skeptical light on the security industry. Once again, it calls into question the proper tools that should be considered to support the men and women who are hired to observe, report, and sometimes intervene in the curve balls that life tends to throw our way.
In this particular situation, a security officer who was assigned to patrol a convention center in Louisiana came across a transient individual breaking out glass and trying to enter a restricted area. The security officer appropriately called the police and then notified the subject that police were on their way. From what we know at this point, the security officer was merely observing, reporting, and notifying the individual that law enforcement was responding. In other words, his action were appropriate and what would be expected from a dutiful private security officer.
Unfortunately, the transient subject initiated an altercation with the security officer after being notified of the police response. Although it is not explicitly detailed in the news story, it is clear that the security officer did not have an approved, defensive, and non-lethal tool on the duty belt to help deter the aggressor's behavior without serious injury. We know this because the security officer in this case drew a knife and stabbed the transient subject to death. Police have determined that the act was in self defense and no charges will be filed, but we have to ask ourselves if this situation had to happen. There is a tremendous amount of personal liability that the security officer might face for having a non-issued, lethal weapon on his person while on the job. Of course, this operates under the assumption that the hiring agency did not actually issue a knife to a security officer. If that was the case, it's the first I've seen.
The bigger issue is that a man lost his life in a gruesome manner instead of being temporarily incapacitated or disabled by a professional security officer using a professional security device. Companies that hire exclusively unarmed guards don't seem to understand that those guards cannot control others' behavior. By nature of wearing a uniform, they make themselves targets for aggression and need tools to deal with it. Fully armed security officers are not the ultimate answer, and it's certainly not a good idea to put security officers in a position where they feel they need to bring their own weapons onto the job site.
Companies need to pay serious attention to their physical security standards. By trying to save a little bit of money on "feel good" security measures such as simply having an unarmed person walking around a site, hiring companies may find that their risk and liability is greater. Those of us who work in security know that an officer without a tool on his/her duty belt might as well have a red target painted on their chest. Start thinking defensively and provide appropriate non-lethal tools to the folks who are keeping watch over your businesses while you're at work and while you sleep.