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  • When does armed security make sense?

    I would like to get some opinions from members of this forum as to when it makes sense for a client to have an armed security officer instead of a unarmed security officer. I know that there are some who feel that every officer should be armed, but this practice isn't likely to be widely adopted anytime soon.

    Many security management experts state that security measures should be an appropriate response to the level of risk that the client faces. So exactly what types of security risks do you think warrant the use of armed officers? What are the types of facilities and/or locations that cry out for the use of an armed officer instead of an unarmed officer?

    For the sake of this discussion, let's assume that the armed officer has been properly trained and equipped (not always the case in reality, I know...)
    Michael A. Silva
    Silva Consultants

  • #2
    Our company's policy is that every officer is armed. If they are not armed they are required baton, oc, taser. I personally love our company owner which feels in today's society the population is becoming more violent. Our company will turn down accounts that will not let the patrol officer to be armed, due to insurance reasons etc. Local PD has also told me several times our company does not call as often, and when we do it's for something good resulting in a better response time. In my opinion since working armed people are alot less likely to mess with the security officer. In my area we have had 3 security officers killed in the line of duty in 5 years, and we don't live in a really nasty area. All three officers were unarmed at the time of their death. It's unfortunate that we have to arm ourselves, but we run into the same threats as police officers. Do I need a gun to unlock a pool? No but you never know what comes around the next corner.

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    • #3
      Michael - I can see where armed security would be preferred to unarmed in a situation where the business has a duty to foresee crimes by taking into account a past history of crime on its property. An example would be a convenience story that has experienced numerous armed robberies, carjackings, shootings and/or murders.
      Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
      Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

      Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

      Comment


      • #4
        I think I've said this before in the past, but I still believe anytime you have a uniformed security officer who is assigned to take enforcement actions (even so much as enforcing a no smoking policy) in an uncontrolled public setting, the officer should be armed.

        This would include job-sites such as:

        Transit stations, Hospitals, Malls, Apartment Complexes/HOAs, Parking garages, Fairs/Carnivals/Attractions, Casinos, Banks, etc...

        The only time I would say "go with an unarmed" would be in controlled settings such as a secure warehouse, a locked office building, etc... where your interactions are with the client more than the public.
        "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
        "The Curve" 1998

        Comment


        • #5
          Pretty much what Lawson said. If you are requiring your guard to attempt to impose the will of the client (or the law) upon another, they should be armed. They should also have the ability to use force to overcome resistance, otherwise they're quite ignorable.

          (This force could be the ability to remove under trespass statute, the ability to write a report which negatively affects the person, etc. Something that generates a consequence.)

          Some will ignore you, some will argue with you, some will attack.
          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
            Let's break this very thorny question down into two others that are only slightly less so, expressed as hypotheticals that we can seek to confirm or deny:

            1. The client has a duty of some sort to protect someone (employee, visitor, resident, etc.) from the risks posed by grave or potentially deadly human threats.

            2. Armed security is the best of the alternative means of meeting that duty.

            It seems to me that both hypotheticals would need to be answered in the affirmative in order to recommend an armed security force. However, both of them are multifactorial. Duty, for instance, might be legal, practical ("business-related") or value-based (moral/ethical)*, and each of these has its own facets. Also, the question of the existence of armed threat in the first place is extremely tricky. "Foreseeability" cannot be answered merely by reference to historical experience unless we are prepared to suffer the catastrophic consequences of a first-time incident, and foreseeability alone is not sufficient to impose a legal duty in any case.

            This inherent complexity presents the problem of what we should do when a hypothesis is neither emphatically confirmed or denied. Often, we resort to "tie-breakers" or some other form of weighting adjustments.

            Consideration of each factor of both hypotheses is required in order to confirm or deny either of them, and thorough, in-depth analysis on a case-by-case basis is certainly merited when it comes to making a professional recommendation regarding a question of such significance. It is only slightly helpful that if the first hypothetical is emphatically denied, there is no need to address the second, and there are some "drop-dead" branches in the decision tree that one way or another foreclose further consideration of that hypothetical (for instance, if there is a clearly-established legal obligation we might only look at other forms of duty in order to bolster our recommendation).

            The reasons for engaging in this detailed process are not merely theoretical, but supremely practical. First, we know that clients typically resist the notion of armed security for a number of reasons - some good and some not - and most will have to be thoroughly convinced of the need.

            Second, the recommendation to use armed security imposes added cost for the security force. We need to be sure that this is the most efficient expenditure of these added funds as opposed to other alternatives.

            Third, we ourselves might be called upon to defend our recommendation, perhaps in a court of law. We must be able to show that we stepped through a deliberative process that took the important variables into account, and a process such as the one I've outlined very broadly here will go a long way to doing that. Hunches, broad generalities, etc. won't do.

            *NOTE: Value-based duty can only be imposed by the client on the consultant, never the other way around. That is, it is not within the purview of the consultant to impose his personal beliefs (e.g., sanctity of human life, etc.) on the client, but it is perfectly permissible for the client to say to the consultant: "Regardless of the absence of any legal or practical duty, I believe I have a moral obligation to protect my people". In doing so, of course, he effectively affirms (forecloses) the first hypothetical and all that remains for the consultant is to address the second.
            Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-01-2010, 02:03 PM.
            "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


            • #7
              Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
              Let's break this very thorny question down into two others that are only slightly less so, expressed as hypotheticals that we can seek to confirm or deny:

              1. The client has a duty of some sort to protect someone (employee, visitor, resident, etc.) from the risks posed by grave or potentially deadly human threats.

              2. Armed security is the best of the alternative means of meeting that duty.

              It seems to me that both hypotheticals would need to be answered in the affirmative in order to recommend an armed security force. However, both of them are multifactorial. Duty, for instance, might be legal, practical ("business-related") or value-based (moral/ethical)*, and each of these has its own facets. Also, the question of the existence of armed threat in the first place is extremely tricky. "Foreseeability" cannot be answered merely by reference to historical experience unless we are prepared to suffer the catastrophic consequences of a first-time incident, and foreseeability alone is not sufficient to impose a legal duty in any case.

              This inherent complexity presents the problem of what we should do when a hypothesis is neither emphatically confirmed or denied. Often, we resort to "tie-breakers" or some other form of weighting adjustments.

              Consideration of each factor of both hypotheses is required in order to confirm or deny either of them, and thorough, in-depth analysis on a case-by-case basis is certainly merited when it comes to making a professional recommendation regarding a question of such significance. It is only slightly helpful that if the first hypothetical is emphatically denied, there is no need to address the second, and there are some "drop-dead" branches in the decision tree that one way or another foreclose further consideration of that hypothetical (for instance, if there is a clearly-established legal obligation we might only look at other forms of duty in order to bolster our recommendation).

              The reasons for engaging in this detailed process are not merely theoretical, but supremely practical. First, we know that clients typically resist the notion of armed security for a number of reasons - some good and some not - and most will have to be thoroughly convinced of the need.

              Second, the recommendation to use armed security imposes added cost for the security force. We need to be sure that this is the most efficient expenditure of these added funds as opposed to other alternatives.

              Third, we ourselves might be called upon to defend our recommendation, perhaps in a court of law. We must be able to show that we stepped through a deliberative process that took the important variables into account, and a process such as the one I've outlined very broadly here will go a long way to doing that. Hunches, broad generalities, etc. won't do.

              *NOTE: Value-based duty can only be imposed by the client on the consultant, never the other way around. That is, it is not within the purview of the consultant to impose his personal beliefs (e.g., sanctity of human life, etc.) on the client, but it is perfectly permissible for the client to say to the consultant: "Regardless of the absence of any legal or practical duty, I believe I have a moral obligation to protect my people". In doing so, of course, he effectively affirms (forecloses) the first hypothetical and all that remains for the consultant is to address the second.
              Blah blah blah, just give me a damn gun.
              "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
              "The Curve" 1998

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Lawson View Post
                Blah blah blah, just give me a damn gun.
                Oh, shoot. I forgot where I was posting again, didn't I?
                "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


                • #9
                  Which Lawson do I listen to ?
                  Originally posted by Lawson View Post
                  Blah blah blah, just give me a damn gun.
                  or
                  Originally posted by Lawson View Post
                  Guns should be illegal. Only cops should have guns.
                  Confronted with the choice, the American people would choose the policeman's truncheon over the anarchist's bomb.
                  Spiro Agnew

                  Why yes I am a glorified babysitter , I am here to politely ask you to follow the rules , if not daddy comes to spank you and put you in time out its your choice - Me

                  Luck is a red hair woman , if you ever dated one you know there remarkably dangerous , my personal preference is to be competent and let luck join the ride if she so chooses .- Clint Smith

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                  • #10
                    It also depends where you are. I just read a study the other day saying that firearms are only used in 18% of robberies in Canada. I enforce rules, respond alone to disturbances & have never in over 30 years faced a gun. But if I were in the States I would not work without one.
                    I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                    Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm in a position in my regular job where I make security recommendations to various government agencies. I honestly, NEVER recommend unarmed security.

                      If my threat assessment determines that security is needed at the location or if the agency insists that it needs security at one of it's facilities, I always recommend armed security. The philosophy being that anyone can call 911, including the receptionist or any other employee, so if we're going to pay to have a security presence, it may as well be security which can provide a reasonable level of protection to the facility, employees and visitors.

                      Of course, I am only dealing with government facilities, which do in fact usually have a higher level of threat against them, then commercial businesses.
                      Washington DC

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HotelSecurity View Post
                        It also depends where you are. I just read a study the other day saying that firearms are only used in 18% of robberies in Canada. I enforce rules, respond alone to disturbances & have never in over 30 years faced a gun. But if I were in the States I would not work without one.
                        A firearm is intended to be used against the threat of deadly force, not the threat of another firearm. These are two different things.
                        A wise son hears his father's instruction,but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. Proverbs 13:1

                        "My “Black-Ops” history ensures that you will never know about the missions I accepted in my younger days, and Vietnam still shudders when it hears the name of a an assasin so skillful and deadly, he is remembered decades later. " G-45

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                        • #13
                          It doesn't necessarily have to be an "all-or-none" decision, of course. The third way (I'm always talking about the "third way", aren't I?) is for one or more "special" officers, including the shift supervisor, to be armed. These people would obviously be carefully selected, probably after a period of in-service observation in an unarmed position.

                          By using this approach, you would be in a better position to provide the armed officers with advanced training in weapon skills like close-quarter shooting, low-light shooting, weapon retention, active-shooter exercises, etc., instead of just the bare "qualifying" minimums. You are also in a better position to compensate these positions at a level commensurate with the responsibilities, which in turn should also improve retention in these positions.

                          There are two main downsides:

                          1. Any time you differentiate officer capabilities/assignments you will incur some added complications with respect to scheduling, sick/vacation replacements, and because of their smaller number you will have less flexibility or "headroom" where those assignments are concerned. Obviously, then, the people selected for this team must be the "iron-man" type who rarely if ever call in sick and don't miss work for anything other than an extreme emergency. They must also be willing to commit to being "super-available" for replacement duty as part of the selection criteria. "I can't come in" better not happen very often if people expect to stay on this team, so you will want to choose people who have their act together when it comes to their personal lives. (However, this "super-availability" commitment should not be abused to fill in just any post that happens to be vacant. It should be reserved only for situations where you need to replace another armed officer in order to meet the minimum armed staffing that you have determined to maintain.)

                          2. You might also inadvertently arouse resentment or jealousy among the unarmed staff, especially at first. This can be lessened somewhat by making sure that in every respect other than the firearm, "special" officers are treated no differently from any others with respect to expectations regarding their daily performance, appearance, etc. If you do this, the weapon worn by the "special" officers will gradually recede into the background until few even notice it anymore. They find something else to think about, especially once they learn that the armed officers have to attend extra training, have to be "super-available" for call-ins, etc. Once they realize that being a "special" officer isn't all skittles and beer, many will prefer to stay right where they are. And if they're still interested in being selected for the armed team one day, there's a pathway - i.e., consistently and reliably meeting or exceeding expectations in the job they're doing right now, proving that they are willing and able to respond promptly when called in, etc.
                          Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-01-2010, 10:58 PM.
                          "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


                          • #14
                            Good points everyones made so far, I look at my site and I would be a lot more comftorable with at least one of the staff armed. At the same time, where the clientele we deal with vastly out number us it would be easy to over power the guard and take his firearm if it came to that. That's another thing to look at, where armed may be appropriate if not needed but too risky to havedue to the type of site.
                            Sergeant Phil Esterhaus: "Hey, let's be careful out there.."

                            THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS WEBSITE/BLOG ARE MINE ALONE AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF MY EMPLOYER.

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                            • #15
                              "Some will ignore you, some will argue with you, some will attack."

                              - and then some.
                              My views, opinions and statements are my own. They are not of my company, affiliates or coworkers.

                              -Being bagger at Publix has more respect these days

                              -It's just a job kid deal with it

                              -The industry needs to do one of two things; stop fiddling with the thin line and go forward or go back to that way it was. A flashlight in one hand and your set of keys in the other

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