Interest in armed guard services up following mass shootings

Despite uptick in inquiries, industry experts don’t foresee a substantial rise in deployments

Another reason that a lot companies eventually decide that armed security is not in the cards for them is due to the fact that there’s simply less licensed armed security officers who cost more to hire than their unarmed counterparts.

"An armed security officer, because of the higher standard and higher training involved, typically can be twice as much or more per hour than an unarmed security officer," Flint said.

Most states also require armed security officers to meet some level of standard when it comes to training. According to Bobo, only nine states currently do not have regulations for security personnel, which he expects will change over the next five years.

"The requirements vary state-by-state," said Bobo. "Typically, for an armed security officer, state regulations might require that the person be 21-years-old and they would require the person pass a background check investigation. In addition, they would require that person have completed training, and it’s anywhere for armed guards specifically, between 12 hours to 40 hours based on state regulations and that’s in addition to any additional requirements that might be setup for unarmed. So, it really varies across the country."

Bobo said that G4S’ requirements to become an armed guard are much more stringent than that and that just because someone may pass muster for a state armed guard license doesn’t mean they will meet company standards.  In addition to having to have prior experience in law enforcement or the military, Bobo said that G4S armed personnel undergo a minimum of 40 hours of training and that in most cases, they far exceed that.

"It’s our responsibility as an organization to ensure that we’re putting the right talent in those positions," Bobo added. "Our guys are getting anywhere from 50 to 160 hours of training based on the particular organization’s requirements and what they need that person to perform."

This training involves everything from the legal aspects of being an armed to security officer, to reporting responsibilities, firearms qualifications and weapons retention. O’Bryan said that armed guards are also trained on the use of force continuum, understanding behavior triggers in people and how to diffuse a situation through verbal commands.

Bobo feels there needs to be more education among end users when it comes to using both armed and unarmed guards.

"There is a misconception that a guard is a guard, whether the guy has gun or not. That’s not accurate," he said. "You can’t take someone that’s been an unarmed guard at a warehouse, put him through a 12-hour training course and then call him an armed guard. The qualifications, experience and talents aren’t there for that level of position."

Being that workplace violence is one of the biggest triggers for requests in armed guards, O’Bryan said that AlliedBarton has tried to be proactive and educate their clients about steps they can take without resorting  to armed personnel, which isn’t always the best answer.

"We’ve tried to get out in front of it and really get clients and building tenants and employees to understand topics related to workplace violence warning signs – recognizing and being able to report these issues," he said.  "Awareness, we believe, is our best prevention. The best prevention we don’t believe is necessarily armed security."