Changing of the Guard: How Today’s Security Guards are Changing a Stereotype

When considering the private security industry, you may have several preconceived notions or beliefs regarding the productivity or utility of a security officer, however, security officers play a key role in a majority of today’s organizations. There are several key attributes that can make the difference between a quality security company and a stereotypical one.

If you think of a security guard, chances are you’re conjuring up images of a slacker leaning back in his chair, feet kicked up on the table, maybe he’s reading a magazine or taking a nap while images of thieves breaking in flash across the closed circuit monitors. Or maybe you’re thinking of a “mall cop” who couldn’t quite cut it as a real police officer, so he got into the security game in order to push your customers around for his own validation.

In the recent release of a white paper on The U.S. Contract Security Industry, Robert Perry comments on the changing of public opinion regarding the industry:

The contract security industry has been striving for many years to elevate how it’s perceived in the public opinion marketplace and it has made great progress in this endeavor, in spite of Hollywood making movies like “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Night at the Museum” that painted unflattering, demeaning pictures of security officers. The contract security officer of today tends to be better educated, better trained, and in several areas, more qualified to handle the security functions demanded by the company’s customers. This didn’t happen overnight – it’s the result of efforts on the part of the owners that want their company to be a truly professional security organization; and national security organizations such as NASCO, ASIS International, and NCISS as well as the many state agencies and organizations working together to create legislation and best practices procedures for the industry. The general public also demanded this change, but there are still serious improvements that need to be, and are being, made in the industry.

Contract security guards approach their job as any professional approaches their work, upholding the primary objective of the job and striving to provide the best possible service to their clientele. Here are a few ways a quality security company differs from the stereotypical beliefs of the past.

Training and Customer Service

A professional security officer knows that there’s a lot of honor and responsibility in being the face of the company, the first person that customers and employees see when they walk in the door. A professional security guard knows their surroundings and is trained to be a deterrent as well as an extension of the customer service department. Every company values quality training and many say it is paramount to their success. Companies in the security services industry are no exception. Training is critical to ensuring that security officers, and the managers who support them, are properly prepared for their daily duties as well as unexpected challenges.

Accountability and Supervision

Management consists of empowered decision makers who understand the needs of the client’s organization and can act in their best interest. Effective managers routinely handle scheduling, ensure all posts are filled, order proper uniforms for every employee and conduct on-site training. Management is also responsible for continual training and compliance with local law, industry regulations and contractual obligations. As is true in most industries, the guiding principles of an organization are implemented from the top in a trickle-down effect. Managers and supervisors are the leaders who set high standards for service; standards that are maintained through continuous, effective supervision. Without proper guidance, the day-to-day activities and the entire security program may be compromised. A professional security company ensures that all guards work to the best of their ability and offers an open line any time a client needs to contact the company directly.

The Use of Technology

As technology continues to evolve and become increasingly intuitive it will continue to have an impact on the industry. John Briggs, the Operations Director of First Security in London addresses the subject best in his exclusive blog at

So how can the industry make the best use of this security mix, using both electronic and manned approaches in parallel so that they complement each other and contribute to a safer environment? With so many different options available it is often difficult for customers to choose the best approach. Companies are naturally striving to achieve the best security mix through analysing the various options available to them. CCTV, for example, has the benefit of acting as a deterrent as well as keeping a log of recorded surveillance. Yet at the same time companies still need a human, visible, deterrent that is able to intervene and prevent disorder on the ground. In our experience at First Security we have found that by adopting a combined approach, an effective, tailored solution can be achieved. There are countless examples of where this is being used to good effect. For instance, an automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR) placed at the entrance of a car park is able to recognise vehicles that have been registered with the police as stolen. When this happens, notification is flagged automatically to a security guard who determines where the vehicle is parked and reports this to the police for action. Awareness that a number plate recognition system is in use often acts as a deterrent. Equally, turnstile technology acts as a physical barrier only allowing access to those with swipe cards or tags, which are read by computer-operated detectors. However, this does not stop individuals trying to beat the system by tailgating or jumping the electronic obstacle. This is where a security guard has an important role to play; firstly by acting as a warning and also, when incidents do occur, making a judgment, confronting the individual and dealing with the situation appropriately. The right security solution does not have to comprise of technology alone or rely solely on manned guards. In fact, the best approach is to use both together to support and complement each other in an intelligent manner. Ultimately, an effective solution lies in creating the right balance to deliver an effective, safe and secure solution.

As expectations and needs continue to elevate the standard to which today’s security guards are held so will the overall public opinion. If you have any questions or comments feel free to write us at or use the box below!