Observe & Report is obsolete
When I posted this into a Linked In discussion group, it created a firestorm of controversy. Many who responded did so positively. A few were negative, mainly managers or supervisors. But the theme is the same, the old fashioned duties of observe & report for contracted, or in some cases proprietary, security officers is obsolete.
I know there will be a whole lot of push back and guffaws from some security professionals, but with increasing threats in the world, from a myriad of sources such as ISIS, criminals (both from outside & insider threats), riots, & just plain cheap and useless thuggery & violence, we in the security field need to step up and advance our security officers as much as we do our technology. It is one of the things we too often neglect.
The impetus for this being obsolete came about, in my mind, more than 30 years ago. But recently, a judgement against U.S. Security Associates, in the amount of $46.8 million because the officers didn’t act, or go far enough, in a workplace violence (WPV) incident at the Kraft Foods plant in North Philadelphia in 2010.
The officers called 911 and did nothing else. Did their post orders say do more? Or was it that they were too scared to do anything else? And the security supervisor was seen, on camera, running to hide in a boiler room during the incident, instead of trying to warn employees or otherwise do something.
In my years in the field I did whatever I thought was necessary to safeguard the client’s property. If that meant investigating something, inside or outside the plant or office, I did it. I always went a step beyond what my orders, post or managerial, said to do. Was I ever chastised for going too far, doing too much, or stepping on toes? Yes, more than once. I’ve also been commended for doing something above and beyond to help or save the client from loss? But the point was, and is, we as security professionals can’t be afraid of disciplinary action in carrying out our responsibilities and duties.
As professionals, we need to have the mindset to do whatever is necessary to get the job done, right, unless it’s illegal, immoral, or unethical. It is a matter of customer service and safety of lives & property. We, meaning all security pros, need to do whatever is necessary to get the job done and get it done right, no matter the orders. Remember Bhopal?
With the world in such an uproar over far too many things to list here, security officers, MUST be charged with doing whatever they need to safeguard the lives and property of their company or client. I’m not talking heroics, but making suggestions and following up on them, educate ourselves, and etc.
This also means that the pay rate for officers needs to be raised. If we want our officers to be professionals and be willing to go above and beyond, we need to pay them more than minimum wage. And I’m talking dollars not a few pennies. When I started in the field 32 years ago, I made $2.35 per hour. Most of the officers I worked with made little more, if any. Site supervisors made a total of .05 – .25 cents more per hour, with very few exceptions.
There are few people working in the security field that I can point to and say that they are as dedicated as I was/am in protecting lives and property, and ones I do know don’t work in the field anymore. And some have forgotten what it’s like to work there. I hope I never get driven by $$$$signs, instead of dedication to the job.
You’ve read my posts about making your guards into professional officers. Every single state, municipality, and security company (not to mention clients) need to follow thru with that and start to act like security officers are more than lowly observers, fit to do nothing else but watch the plant burn or people get killed or assaulted.
Observe & report is obsolete. It went out with the old fashioned security guards of 25 and longer ago when technology began to accelerate and we left our officers behind. In order for the lives and assets of our responsible charges to be properly protected we need to expect more from them. And to do that they need to be professional.
Simply asking someone to do nothing but observe and report tells them they have to do nothing but sit on their butts and make a phone call, just remember U.S. Security Associates. We in the field and the world at large can no longer afford that kind of thinking. If our clients want us to do that, we need to have them sign off and release us from responsibility if anything occurs. And even that probably won’t protect contracted officers and their employers in the instance of a WPV or similar incident. Just remember this number $46.8 MILLION. Can you or your company take such a hit and stay in business?
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security field for 32 years, and 24 studying workplace violence issues. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/oneistoomany, Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV and other security issues, as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.