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

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

Debriefing: There is a period of enervation after a crisis where the actor feels fatigue and often remorse. People who have acted out often realize the inappropriateness of their behavior. They may apologize or attempt to explain/justify their actions. Everyone deserves respect. Everyone should be given the opportunity to save face as much as possible in the given circumstances. There are both humanistic and practical reasons for doing so: “If they go away angry, they may come back angrier.”

Protection staff must be good listeners. Allow people to apologize for their actions in whatever form. Complement as appropriate such as “you put up quite a struggle – I had to earn my pay today.” And document any admissions by the subject as well as instructions by management or security staff.

Documentation: Following any application of force, the incident must be completely documented. Reports must contain specific detail on subject actions. Statements made by subjects getting exact quotes, if possible, of threats or profanity must be recorded. So too must the statements and actions of officers and managers.

Video can play a key role here and documentation of loss events — or potential loss events — is a prime consideration. A video system can aid in recording loss events and conditions. Uses of force are but another variety of loss event which should be considered during system design and installation. Remember: resolution matters.

There are five primary justifications for using force. These justifications consist of the officer’s reasonable belief:

1. That harm would come to the officer or to someone else if force was not used.

2. That the actions taken were necessary.

3. That the actions taken were reasonable.

4. That the actions taken conformed to employer policy and training.

5. That the officer was in preclusion caused by the aggressor. This means that the officer could not escape or take other defensive actions.

If the officer cannot answer all of these questions in the affirmative, that officer may have serious trouble justifying his or her use of force. A properly written report walks the reader through the scenario. It conveys the reasonable beliefs and actions of the writer so that a dispassionate observer may understand what occurred.


Chris Hertig, CPP, CPOI is an author and teacher with an extensive background in security force training and development. He can be reached at chrisahertig@yahoo.com.


Charles “Chuck” Thibodeau, M.Ed., CPP, CSSM, CPOI, CFAI, CPAT, CPDT is a consultant, college instructor, private trainer, and expert witness in civil and use-of-force cases. He can be contacted at ctthibodeau@ctthibodeau.net.