Have you ever wondered what security guards do during their shifts? Most of us see guards patrolling the perimeter of a worksite, or sitting at the front desk of a building, but there is very little information available about the finer details of this profession. Below are some lesser-known “secrets” about security guards.
Armed guards go through some intense training
Some security guards have little post-secondary schooling, but they do need to take courses and complete training in order to work in this profession. Armed guards go through an extensive amount of training (which makes complete sense considering how dangerous guns can be if used improperly). They are required to complete annual testing, and they must pass the test to carry a firearm.
Armed guards may work at banks, educational facilities, large businesses, and government facilities. They may also be hired by wealthy individuals to protect them and/or their property. They must be able to operate a dangerous weapon with civilians and threatening individuals present.
Some armed guards may have a few years of basic security experience, but seasoned employees could be former or retired military personnel. They perform very well in sectors that are more susceptible to serious threats, including government agencies.
The average pay for an armed guard is not that much higher than an unarmed guard
While armed guards take on significantly more responsibility and liability, they don’t always make significantly more. According to Indeed, a top-rated job site, the average salary for an armed security officer is $18.06 per hour, or $42,051 annually, in the United States.
For unarmed officers, the average is $15.26 per hour, or $54,976 annually. That’s not to say that unarmed guards will make more than those who carry firearms. There are likely more unarmed guards sharing salary information, and as a result, the pay range could vary a bit more. Unarmed guards may also work longer hours since there is more demand for that type of security professional. In most cases, armed guards will be paid better, but don’t let salary be the only reason why you decide to become an armed guard.
Security guards are very good at multitasking
Guards must be good at doing multiple things at once. In fact, those that monitor surveillance footage have reported having to keep an eye on 24 cameras at one time. There are anywhere from 10 to 24 cameras in a public setting, and the screens will be split into 4, 8, 12, or 16. Experienced guards know how to watch them all at once.
Guards do more than people watch
Security officers do much more than observe a space and wait for something to occur. Those that work in public places, including malls and grocery stores, will be instructed by their supervisor to look for particular things. They may be warned about certain individuals before starting their shift, or asked to devote more time to a couple of areas where crime is more likely to occur.
Guards probably can’t tackle shoplifters
Security guards can use reasonable force to stop a shoplifter and make a citizen’s arrest, but they have fewer powers than police officers. They do have the authority to:
- Ask a person to leave or ban a person from private property
- Make a citizen’s arrest for certain crimes
- Detain or search someone
In most places, guards must have seen someone conceal merchandise and walk out of the store without paying before they can legally detain the thief. Security guards are not allowed to use unnecessary force, and often, they are discouraged from running after a shoplifter. Some states have strict protocols or laws about this.
Once a security guard has arrested an individual, they cannot let that person go until the police arrive. Police officers will make a formal arrest. When possible, they are also supposed to give the alleged criminal notice by explaining to them why they are being arrested.
While shoplifters try not to be obvious, some are easy targets for security guards to spot. An oversized jacket, purse, or overconcern about immediate surroundings will give guards a reason to monitor a person more closely.
Security tech is getting really sophisticated
Security guards, supervisors, and companies have seen the evolution of technology, and will readily embrace new advancements in order to stay one step ahead of crime and trouble. The healthcare sector shares a similar attitude, and is hoping that technology can help improve patient care and efficiencies.
Both industries have at least considered the role that AI and biometrics will play in the near future. It could soon be possible for a patient to be granted access to a healthcare facility after a facial recognition scan is automatically performed. The scan prompts an alert which is delivered to the primary care physician. They can review the patient’s most recent notes before the patient reaches the office.
Since every person entering and exiting the building is scanned, security has a far easier time locating anyone who causes issues for the facility.
Facial recognition technology and other AI applications have a lot of potential. But there are also privacy concerns that will need to be figured out. With the sharing of more and more personal data across systems, there is greater potential for malicious opportunists to infiltrate and steal data. Companies will need to combine physical and cyber security to protect people and data as the use of AI becomes more ubiquitous.
Less invasive technology, like mobile guard tour systems, are assisting companies and guards to be more efficient and effective. Patrol Points, for example, eliminates the need for security wands or other equipment. Guards only need a smartphone and NFC checkpoints to complete patrols. They can take notes or photos as they go, and fill out standardized logs during their shifts. Checkpoints can even be scanned when guards don’t have access to the internet. All information is stored locally on the officer’s phone and uploaded to the platform once an internet connection is available.
Cloud-based guard tour systems provide security companies with a smarter way to share information, regulate patrols, and identify and improve security weaknesses.
Intensity and action levels depend on the role
While all security guards must be alert, some places require a higher level of vigilance than others. Art museums, for example, are home to artwork that is worth millions of dollars. While there aren’t too many dramatic events that occur in these types of establishments, guards must be prepared to intervene at a moment’s notice if there is a theft attempt. Conversely, a condominium might have several small issues each weekend. Security may be required to speak with residents hosting loud parties, but problems can usually be solved relatively easily.