Technology and a New Caliber of Security Officer

The training and technology used by guards varies by sector

A required Environment of Care Risk Assessment evaluates the potential adverse impact of the external environment on the security of patients, staff, and others coming to the facility. Security officers are a part of these efforts.
Trade and Commerce: Many security personnel are performing specialized security activities for clients that participate in the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program, and other clients that operate within the U.S. Department of Commerce-designated Foreign Trade Zones. Each sector carries its own requirements with which security officers must be familiar.

Ports and Transportation Facilities: Security officers at ports, airports and rail systems must carry out Coast Guard-enforced Port Facility Security Plans (PFSPs) and meet the requirements to carry the Transportation Security Administration’s Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).

There are also other sector-specific requirements beyond the impact of regulations. For example, security officers in government face the possibility of terrorism and other challenges. Additional sectors requiring specialized security expertise include utility and energy providers, oil and gas facilities, financial institutions and logistics.

Commercial Buildings: These security officers often serve as ambassadors and public-relations professionals. In commercial real estate or manufacturing facilities, it is essential to recruit experienced, customer-service-oriented professionals to provide security, fire, life and safety-related services in the commercial marketplace, such as high-rise office buildings and corporate campuses.

Leisure and Tourism: While the customer experience is paramount, there is also an expectation of security in this industry. Well-trained, personable security officers help customers enjoy their leisure and recreation in safer and more secure environments.
Retail: The benefit from retail security extends beyond a uniformed officer stationed at the storefront. Security personnel should be as knowledgeable of in-store security processes and technology as they are of the cash cycle and the retail world. Security officers with training and awareness of these processes enable retailers to focus on their main priority, the customer.

Training programs for these and other sectors must ingrain a variety of standard security officer skills while also catering to specialized needs. The job of security officer can differ from one industry to the next, and candidates for those positions must be matched accordingly. The new role of security officers now offers candidates a wealth of choices that reflect the expanding opportunities of the market.

Technological Know-how

Technology is becoming common in the corporate security world. As a result, today’s security officers must be able to interact efficiently and effectively with various technologies. Antiquated guard-tour systems have been replaced by devices and software that provide real-time communication, incident reporting, and responsiveness. This shift has changed the job of security officer for the better.

Today, security officers may be equipped with software-enabled PDAs that network wirelessly with command-centers in real-time; capturing incidents, sending pictures, recording time-and-attendance, and verifying patrol activities. These systems provide clients with dynamic views of their sites’ security environments.

Security officers must now be able to operate, interpret and respond to data made available through the technology in place, including: advanced video-management, intrusion-detection, alarm monitoring, electronic communications, access control and visitor-management systems. Training on these systems allows security officers to make faster, better-informed decisions when responding to incidents, and when identifying, investigating and responding to causes.

Security officers trained to be observant of site-specific variables can have a tremendous value-added impact beyond security. For instance, a security officer doing a tour can observe and confirm that various systems are working as intended. He or she can survey fire extinguishers or report maintenance issues such as problems with building and site lighting, door hardware, perimeter fencing, and safety issues. The more officers know about the company and processes in place, the more value they provide.

Drew Levine is President of G4S Secure Solutions USA.