Alternative weapons for security officers

by todaystrainingblog

Since I’ve been in security, nearly 33 years, the idea of weapons with security officers has been a debate. And it really should be a debate! I believe that there are other considerations to think about as well. And some of the reasons companies don’t want their officers armed are…

It is sad, but true; many companies simply don’t trust their officers to carry firearms. And many companies that employ their own proprietary officers don’t want their officers armed either and usually for the same reason. However, many times the main reason is liability and the insurance premiums. Most security companies and clients suffer from WBS (warm body syndrome). They don’t care who’s on post, as long as someone is looking ‘official’.

Another reason goes hand in hand with liability. The hiring process to find an armed officer that is trustworthy enough to do the job. Pre-employment screening processes are at an ever increasing cost because the need to totally ‘vet’ an applicant. And unfortunately it usually only goes for a few years back.

And another cost that ensures that companies & clients shy away? The financial cost of training. Those costs are increasing due to recent incidents of workplace violence (WPV) & terrorism. To fully ensure that an officer is properly trained and is up-to-date with their training can be an enormous financial cost, or drain as some would call it, on a client & contractor.

However there are weapons that a company can arm their officers with that are just as effective as a 9mm Glock.  And I hope the .38 detective special has been outlawed by security companies/departments. Those things, with many companies were totally useless. And I should fail to mention, but I won’t, totally unreliable because they weren’t properly maintained.

So, what are these alternatives that are just as effective? They are not necessarily cheap, nor are they a throw together and forget about it. But they are effective and should be considered where your officers/employees may be in danger or the size of the property or risk of crime is high. And as a caveat to this the potential for violence can be considered high because of the business being conducted.

  • Night sticks, ASP batons, or similar
  • Tasers
  • Pellet guns or similar
  • Pepper spray
  • Training

Each of these items has their own inherent risk of either a lawsuit or not being effective. And they all require significantly more training than a state mandated requirement, including the last one training. Here are a couple of the drawbacks for the above weapons;

  • Batons can break bones & cause significant injuries. They can also cause noticeable bruising as well as ‘pressure cuts’ (as what a boxer gets above the eye many times)
  • Tasers can be effective for normal people, however if they get someone who is high on drugs or has a hidden medical problem it may or may not be effective and lead to many other legal and liability issues, including their death.
  • pepper spray has a tendency to disperse everywhere and could injure others in the area. And those injuries could be blindness if they already had eye issues. Or even death if they have a severe allergic reaction or breathing problems.
  • Pellet pistols can also have the effect of escalating the situation forcing another to use a real firearm, which also can lead to the officer’s death.
  • Your best bet overall is training. Yes simple words and role play. By instructing your officers in the ways to verbally disarm and talk someone down from their tirade and keep them calm and others away can be just as effective as having a police officer pull their firearm on a suspect.

Role-playing with these tactics is also effective and should be mandatory. If the officers don’t use these skills after learning them, then they will atrophy and most will be forgotten within a few days. And a hand book and continual training should also be used in conjunction with the lecture (yes no videos only) and role play.

Is this cheap? Absolutely not. A one-time training session can cost a company easily a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on how deep they cover the subject. If you can bring in an expert in any of these it could cost you even more. Is it worth it? Unequivocally, YES!

A hundred years ago 90% of security ‘guards’ were armed. Now the number is fewer is less than 7%. But the world is getting more dangerous by the day. Companies and clients are demanding higher and better levels of protection from their security officers.

Therefore, the training that is involved in instructing your officer in various non-lethal ways to subdue someone should be considered, because you never know if the person is a hooligan, drunk, high, or having a medical emergency. And having a medical emergency or if they are drunk or high the liability can be higher than you or the client can bear.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear