Special Report: Government Security - Non-Lethal Defense

Selecting the right tools will reduce risk among your force of protection officers

Weaponized Flashlights: The concept of combining the utility of a flashlight with defensive capabilities has often been a controversial topic because many tacticians do not believe it is wise to conceal a defensive capability. If a guard has defensive abilities, he should show them to create a deterrent. There are a number of flashlights that have either a stun capability built into them, or alternatively, display a dazzling strobe sequence to cause dizziness or nausea. These tools are very economical, but they can be defeated and expose the officer to the same proximity risk as contact stun devices. Weaponzied flashlights are better than having nothing, but if you are striving for “enhanced presence,” this type of device does not offer a very imposing profile.

Batons: While collapsible batons have been in use for years, technology has improved their balance, striking power and convenience. The operating principle of a baton is simple — intimidation and/or physical injury. Batons are low-cost and effective, but the chance your guard may accidentally deliver a debilitating or fatal head strike may be too much risk for a company to absorb. Consider them, but understand that pictures of an effective baton strike could be the centerpiece of a plaintiff’s case against the officer or your organization.

Pepper Spray: By some estimates, nearly 30 percent of security officers currently carry pepper spray as a defensive tool. Pepper spray is popular because, by spraying the active ingredient oleoresin capsicum (O.C.) at distances of 15 feet or more, it provides an inexpensive escape opportunity. The risks associated with deploying pepper spray are generally low and can be overcome with excellent training and regular refresher courses. Training is essential to ensure proper aiming technique because pepper spray devices do not include an aiming mechanism, such as a laser spotter or mechanical sight, and the spray is susceptible to wind conditions.


Taking Action

It’s clear from the statistical trends that the risks security officers face are serious. By providing the right tools for the job, you will see an instant transformation in morale, how they carry themselves and exude pride in their work because they know there is less risk to their safety.

When considering what devices guards need on their tool belt, here are some guidelines to ensure that the selection you make is sensible, tactically sound and cost effective:

• Collaborate with your security chief in defining the role of your guard and the risks they face;

• Ensure the threats that your guards face are met with an appropriate response;

• When possible, maximize the distance at which your guard can engage a threat;

• Budget for annual training at minimum, although quarterly is preferred;

• Review training materials to ensure they help address risks unique to the location;

• Ensure the reporting of incidents are thorough and include images and audio; and

• Establish a clear chain of command for report reviews while including the training chief in the reviews.

When choosing the tools for your guard’s duty belt, remember that there isn’t a perfect tool for every situation. Encourage the use of products that provide a layered defense for your guard and protect your company against frivolous lawsuits. By selecting the right products, your guards will have more satisfaction in their job, resulting in lower turnover, less risk and reduced operating costs.


Paul Hughes, Chief Operating Officer of Guardian 8, is a former U.S. Marine and veteran of Operations Desert Storm/Shield. He has served as brand manager for Smith & Wesson, and as director of new markets at TASER. Get more info on Guardian 8 at www.securityinfowatch.com/10760023.