Special Report: Government Security - Is Your Guard Force Prepared?

An outline for managers and officers in daily operations and using force

As a government security manager or executive, it is highly likely that one of your duties is the management of a force of protection officers. As such, you as a manager have an obligation to your superiors, clients and subordinates in the proper use of force. This obligation is organizational, legal and moral. Management must do all it can to ensure that officers succeed in their mission by preparing them to use force when necessary in a professional manner and only as a last resort.

Protection officers are human service professionals charged with maintaining a stable environment in which people can work, play, receive treatment, etc., without fear or interruption. Maintaining that stable environment encompasses an array of technical and human service skills. It may demand split-second decision making in whether to use force or not.

Management must equip and prepare their subordinates for the use of force. This begins with a realistic assessment of potential forceful encounters and proceeds into policy, procedure, training and deployment. Ultimately, management is responsible to the officers and other stakeholders. Proper staffing and equipping; continuous professional development which ensures proficiency in crucial job tasks; and supportive yet objective inquiries regarding when force has occurred are all components of this commitment.


Manager/Supervisor Duty

When a violent encounter occurs, management’s first duty is to the officers who are the “tip of the spear” for the security organization. Officers not only represent management but they are personally at risk when using force.

Scheduling: Deployment of protection staff raises various questions. Obviously, officers should be well-rested, alert and attentive. There must be some method of inspecting and briefing officers before they go on duty to ensure their fitness and readiness. Careful attention must be paid to the scheduling of officers, as being tired and irritable does not coincide with effective decision making or human relations. An officer working a 12 hour shift at an event may be a problem-in-waiting.

Who to arm: Be reasonable in your choice of armed personnel — this applies to any and all weapons, not just firearms. In some cases, a tiered approach to staffing or horizontal promotion scheme may be used, ensuring that only the more senior and highly trained officers are armed.

Briefing and updating: This is a key supervisory function. It increases in scope as we develop more means of communication (social media) and raise our expectations of officers. Threats such as severe weather, active shooters and flash mobs are changing the paradigm. Listing all communications media that may be used to brief staff is a good start. Ensuring some overlap and redundancy in communication is also important. A key aspect of supervising protection staff who may be called upon to use force is to properly envision what the officers must contend with. Whether this is done via regular meetings, post inspections, accompanying officers on patrol or filling in for one’s subordinates and manning a post; it must be done.

Incident inquiries: Before expecting a control force to properly use force; a clearly delineated investigative policy must be established, and there must be a specific means of conducting an inquiry when force is in question. Following a use of force incident, it is essential that an objective inquiry be conducted. This may be derailed by hearing about the event from a third party; especially if that third party is high on the food chain.


Role of Protection Officers

Understanding the roles and duties of protection officers is critical to aiding them in the proper use of force. Generally officers assume several key roles; the first of which is Management Representative where the officers represent the management of the facility or organization they are protecting. This is an essential aspect of their job; in some cases they have been referred to as “the after-hours Chairman of the Board” due to the fact that they may be alone and have to make important decisions.

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