Ask a private security company manager about officer training and they will tell you that of course, their guards are fully trained.
What kind of training does the average security guard actually get? Although guard requirements differ somewhat from state to state, the curriculum covers basic laws that would pertain to the job, public relations, the administrative aspects of the job, safety and emergency response procedures, and an overview of duties. The goal for the security company is that the guard be able to pass the test to receive his or her guard card, their license to work. Some guards receive baton and handcuff training, depending on post requirements. Technically, a guard is permitted to work having taken an 8 hour course, although some clients require 40 hours. But in many cases, a guard is allowed to fill the deficit hours via ‘on the job training’, in other words at the end of the day, they only get 8 hours of training.
Although some security guards have a military or law enforcement background, most guards you encounter in your everyday life do not. This means they do not have specific experience or education to fall back on. This in turn makes the training they get (or don’t get) from their employer all the more important.
Why don’t they get solid training?
Margins in the security business are notoriously tight. Squeezing out budget for training is difficult and from a purely bottom line point of view, understandable. Security is a manpower business and the priority is getting a person on a post for a client. Scheduling is always a headache but when the available manpower pool is low, just about any warm body will do if it means filling a slot.
It is an imperfect business.
The problem is that many clients and certainly the public expect to be getting actual security. Between the lack of training and the ‘observe and report’ attitude, the public is not well served.
Think about the last time you encountered an emergency – perhaps something relatively benign like a power outage or something more serious like an attack. If you had dealt with a similar situation before, you were far more likely to handle it better the second time around. To some degree, you knew what to expect and how you would react. Experience under your belt provides tools for dealing with whatever it is.
In stressful situations, the human brain reverts to its ancient reptilian responses. Our heart rate shoots up as adrenaline pumps through us. These physiological changes are meant to help us cope, and may well have helped when we were running from sabre-tooth tigers. But in the case of a security guard dealing with a violent turn of events or an attack, a lack of training and experience, coupled with the stress can result in panic, mistakes and missed chances. This is where training and drilling are critical for success for security guards and the people they are protecting.
Security guards, in our experience and from what clients report, appreciate the information and skills good and regular training provides. They are more confident on the job and more engaged with their secured environment. Even turnover rates slow down when guards are well trained. The lack of training in the security industry is a source of frustration for clients and guards alike.