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How Can We Differentiate Security Positions?

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  • How Can We Differentiate Security Positions?

    One of the problems we have in our industry is that clients do not differentiate (or have a hard time differentiating) the different types of security positions and skill levels required to fill those positions. And, it seems, few if any security companies are educating their clients on the differences, either.

    Basically, many clients have a tendency to see all security officers as doormen, "greeters", valets and low-skill people who stand or sit around on their duffs doing little or nothing even to justify paying them minimum wage.

    ...and, to be fair, there are just such positions and just such people in our industry, so the image is not completely fictional. We've had folks on this very forum who have honestly admitted that they love their jobs precisely because they have very little to do and get paid for watching TV (and I don't mean CCTV). Without commenting on whether such positions might not in some cases be perfectly legitimate, the point I'm making is that there are many other positions that require a very high level of skill and training, but clients and the public typically make no such distinction.

    We see what happens in critical infrastructure industries where the recruitment and training standards for security are high, either because of government mandates - such as nuclear power plants, or because of well-known high levels of risk that organizations simply cannot ignore - such as inner city medical centers.

    In such cases:

    1. Security programs tend to be better-developed.
    2. Security chiefs tend to be better-qualified.
    3. Executive management is more supportive, even if grudgingly so.
    4. The security budget is, percentage-wise, higher.
    5. Officer standards and training requirements are higher.
    6. Positions requiring "higher" qualifications are clearly distinguished from those that do not.
    6. Wages and benefits for officers in those "higher" positions are better.

    In other words, these industries prove to us that higher standards DO usually result in higher wages for officers, and better security programs. And, in such industries, there is usually a much clearer idea of differing levels of security personnel, and matching different positions to those different levels.

    You might see, in such industries:

    Security Officer - Basic
    Security Officer - Advanced

    ...or

    Security Officer I
    Security Officer II
    Security Officer III

    rather than just "security guard". Such differentiation usually means:

    a. Standards for each level, and...
    b. Pathways for upward mobility, which are...
    c. Reflected in both increasing levels of responsibility and compensation.

    Unfortunately, there are many clients whose risk profile is such that high security standards are just as appropriate for them as for those mentioned above. Yet, because their industries and their security programs are unregulated, and because executives are ignorant of the value of proper security programs to their businesses, they get away with hiring low-level personnel (who often themselves become victims of perfectly foreseeable crimes).

    One of our problems, believe it or not, is in the words we ourselves use to describe security personnel. We have no standard terms or definitions to refer to a doorman or a "greeter" versus a high-level, armed antiterror interventionist. We ourselves will call them both "security officers" or "guards", or what-have-you.

    The question is: How can WE standardize the terms by which we clearly mean different levels of officer skill and training so that clients (and security contracts) are, in turn, forced to evaluate and specify security positions in terms of matching a particular level of skill required for that position in terms of security staff?

    Words mean something, but only if someone gives the words meaning. And, words are very powerful things. Titles - when everyone knows what they mean - are very powerful things. Words and titles have both real definitions, and implied definitions. If you doubt the power of terminology, consider these terms, all of which refer to attorneys:

    1. Corporate counsel.
    2. Ambulance-chaser.
    3. Prosecutor.
    4. Mouthpiece.
    5. Defense counsel.
    6. Shark.

    I could do exactly the same thing with doctors, detectives or accountants.

    WE NEED STANDARDIZED DEFINITIONS FOR DIFFERING LEVELS OF SECURITY PERSONNEL, and we need to propagate those definitions throughout the world of security - both among security clients and security vendors.
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 09-10-2007, 01:13 AM.
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

  • #2
    Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
    Security Officer I
    Security Officer II
    Security Officer III

    rather than just "security guard". Such differentiation usually means:

    a. Standards for each level, and...
    b. Pathways for upward mobility, which are...
    c. Reflected in both increasing levels of responsibility and compensation.
    I've seen such differentiation before whilst perusing job descriptions/award payment schedules etc. additional to this visually SO's have 3 different epaulettes, those being...

    Security Officer
    Senior Security Officer
    Security Supervisor
    Attached Files
    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give" - Winston Churchill

    Comment


    • #3
      A few disjoined comments (it's late, I'm tired)

      1) What criteria would be used to determine the said "levels"? Security guards serve a variety of different roles, and as such using a specific training package for each level might not make sense. Training for a bouncer-type security job would ideally focus on things like use of force and verbal de-escalation, while an industrial security job would more likely focus on things such as industrial safety, knowledge of chemicals, fire systems, etc...

      2) Who would regulate the level system? How would prospective companies be able to convince their clients that their higher level guards are actually better trained and that they're not just being fed bull****? Most clients probably wouldn't care and would just go with whatever's cheapest.

      3) Would their actually be a market for these higher level guards? Would there be enough of an economic incentive for the guards to obtain these higher standards?

      Comment


      • #4
        AGAIN I say - the insurance industry needs to set the standards. The better contract security a company hires, the lower their insurance rates. In industry money talks!
        I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
        Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by HotelSecurity View Post
          AGAIN I say - the insurance industry needs to set the standards. The better contract security a company hires, the lower their insurance rates. In industry money talks!
          The insurers have set the standards. Major firms that limit their liability to stupid levels receive the highest discounts.
          Some Kind of Commando Leader

          "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by N. A. Corbier View Post
            The insurers have set the standards. Major firms that limit their liability to stupid levels receive the highest discounts.

            Exactly right. The biggest companies have diluted security services down to an embarrassing level. As long as the big companies that want the insurance discount that having "security" provides keep hiring the lowest bidder for their contracts, this spiral will only continue.

            One of the reasons I am such a fan of in-house security is that you tend to have a lot more support from upper management and the company as a whole since you are co-workers and not an occupying force. The wages and benefits are generally higher to a lot higher and that allows you to hire and retain better officers.

            I tend to be big on uniforms and grooming standards. You could put the most qualified officer in an unkempt uniform, with his shirt tail sticking out, and 2 days growth on his face next to your least competent officer in a pressed uniformed, all squared away, and clean shaven and the public is going to assume the latter officer is better qualified than the former.

            The market forces will dictate how well trained officers are. If companies are allowed to staff posts with slovenly dressed, poorly trained, warm bodies, that is precisely what they will do.
            Last edited by CorpSec; 09-10-2007, 04:41 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by N. A. Corbier View Post
              The insurers have set the standards. Major firms that limit their liability to stupid levels receive the highest discounts.
              We keep hearing that insurance companies are driving the "security quality bus", but I have to wonder.

              For instance, we hear that companies hire crap security in order to put up "window dressing" so they can qualify for discounts on their insurance premiums. Really? Well, that only makes sense if the discount exceeds the cost of the "window dressing", right? (You can already see what's coming, can't you?)

              Even a single "O&R" unarmed security guard is going to cost you around $30,000 a year at $12 billable for just 5 days a week, 10 hours a day, let alone one guard 24 x 7, which is what you're probably going to need to qualify for a discount, and that's going to cost you $130,000 a year.

              Now, if all you need to qualify for an insurance discount is one guard, you are a VERY tiny business, and you don't pay $30,000 TOTAL in property and liability premiums, let alone get that kind of a discount. Your discount is going to be what...$1000? $2000?

              So, someone show me the math about how insurance premium discounts are driving the market for low-wage security contracts.

              ...BUT WAIT: That's not all. Your insurance rate, after the first year, is going to be determined to no small extent by your claims experience. "Window-dressing" security presumably is not going to help your claims experience much, and it could very well increase your claims to an extreme degree if this poorly-trained, ill-equipped guard screws up, as we well know (the fact that the security vendor is insured makes no difference to PI lawyers...you'll be named too). So, crap security probably isn't going to impact your premiums in subsequent years much, or could even make them higher.

              Bottom line: I don't see how discounts justify hiring even very low-level security, or how crap security serves the interests of insurance companies either.

              'Splain it to me, Lucy!
              Last edited by SecTrainer; 09-10-2007, 10:19 AM.
              "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

              "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

              "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

              "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CorpSec View Post
                One of the reasons I am such a fan of in-house security is that you tend to have a lot more support from upper management and the company as a whole since you are co-workers and not an occupying force. The wages and benefits are generally higher to a lot higher and that allows you to hire and retain better officers.
                As a worker I always much preferred in-house to contract, for all the reasons you mention plus the fact that I never liked the idea of some 3rd party (the security company, who usually made me pay for my own equipment, uniforms and licensing) making money off of me being on the line...

                The need for that 3rd party to turn a profit (and the need for the client to save money in the 1st place which is probably why they are outsourcing in the 1st place) can hold down the workers wages compared to what in house people could get. Contract Security is a necessary resource in a business world that is so hyper competitive because , heck, companies outsourcing security function helps the economy be keeping product prices low

                Even in-house peeps can get the shaft in a bad or unstable economy, because security is a "costly support service" that usually isn't needed all the time.

                Security is like car insurance. If you cancel you car insurance today you still might not have an accident for a looonnnggg time, creating a false sense of security (pardon the pun). Anyone with any sense knows you WILL need it one day and if something happens and you don't have it you are screwed, but because bad things don't happen often, that car insurance payment just seems like an unnecessary drag....

                Knowing all of this I don't know how the problems can be fixed. It would probably take Unions or government intervention....
                Last edited by Black Caesar; 09-10-2007, 11:58 AM.
                ~Black Caesar~
                Corbier's Commandos

                " "The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Black Caesar View Post
                  As a worker I always much preferred in-house to contract, for all the reasons you mention plus the fact that I never liked the idea of some 3rd party (the security company, who usually made me pay for my own equipment, uniforms and licensing) making money off of me being on the line...

                  The need for that 3rd party to turn a profit (and the need for the client to save money in the 1st place which is probably why they are outsourcing in the 1st place) can hold down the workers wages compared to what in house people could get.
                  Even an in-house security department has to justify its existence (and its costs) to management in terms of its contribution to the bottom line, though, which is roughly equivalent to a security vendor needing to "make a profit off you". It's impossible to escape the economics of "profit", whether in-house or vendor.
                  "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                  "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                  "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                  "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
                    We keep hearing that insurance companies are driving the "security quality bus", but I have to wonder.

                    For instance, we hear that companies hire crap security in order to put up "window dressing" so they can qualify for discounts on their insurance premiums. Really? Well, that only makes sense if the discount exceeds the cost of the "window dressing", right? (You can already see what's coming, can't you?)

                    Even a single "O&R" unarmed security guard is going to cost you around $30,000 a year at $12 billable for just 5 days a week, 10 hours a day, let alone one guard 24 x 7, which is what you're probably going to need to qualify for a discount, and that's going to cost you $130,000 a year.

                    Now, if all you need to qualify for an insurance discount is one guard, you are a VERY tiny business, and you don't pay $30,000 TOTAL in property and liability premiums, let alone get that kind of a discount. Your discount is going to be what...$1000? $2000?

                    So, someone show me the math about how insurance premium discounts are driving the market for low-wage security contracts.

                    ...BUT WAIT: That's not all. Your insurance rate, after the first year, is going to be determined to no small extent by your claims experience. "Window-dressing" security presumably is not going to help your claims experience much, and it could very well increase your claims to an extreme degree if this poorly-trained, ill-equipped guard screws up, as we well know (the fact that the security vendor is insured makes no difference to PI lawyers...you'll be named too). So, crap security probably isn't going to impact your premiums in subsequent years much, or could even make them higher.

                    Bottom line: I don't see how discounts justify hiring even very low-level security, or how crap security serves the interests of insurance companies either.

                    'Splain it to me, Lucy!
                    When I say, "the insurance company is driving the bus," I do not mean "insurance companies demand security." I mean that insurance companies give a large "risk modifier index" to firms that lessen the risk the insurance company is exposed to by removing the parts of the job that incur risk.
                    Some Kind of Commando Leader

                    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      SecTrainer

                      This is the first post I have read of yours that I agree with 100% not only because distinguishing between who is what and why is a matter of professional respect. But more importantly, to engrain into the mindset and business practices that some post assignments require greater managerial attention and active support than others and, when absent, the result causes everyone suffer.

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