office violence and security guards


They’re always there. You see them smiling whenever you walk in or out of the office. But many of us don’t realize that these men and women put their lives on the line every day – as the first line of defense when violence erupts. Their heroic stories don’t always make the news, but there have been more than a few guards in the line of fire in 2015. Unfortunately, not all of them have happy endings.

Cases in Point: Three Examples

  • Clarksdale, Mississippi: On May 12, 2015, a 59-year-old security guard was shot and killed at the Clarksdale public utility guard house. He was sitting behind a barbwire fence, in the shadow of the Clarksdale water tower, inside a security hut when someone fired several shots into the building.
  • New York, New York: On August 21, 2015, an armed veteran slipped through a side door of a federal building in New York and shot and killed a security guard at close range. He then walked toward an elevator before he was confronted by another employee. He then took his own life.
  • Union Station, Washington D.C.: On September 11, 2015, a security officer protecting the Securities and Exchange Commission witnessed a man stab and wound a woman. After security officer chased the subject down, the individual pointed his knife and lunged toward the officer. The subject was fatally shot.

Clearly it’s vital to ensure that security guards have the tools they need to ensure a safe workplace. At the shooting locations I described, there will likely be a full-scale investigation, physical security audit, re-examination of policies and procedures, and updating of emergency management plans, all in an effort to be prepared to prevent and react to similar incidents.

Standardization Is Imperative

Today there is no national or international standard for the selection and training of security officers – and each state has different hiring and training criteria for security officers. These range from comprehensive training requirements to no training at all.

In 2010, ASIS International, the 37,000-member security industry association, addressed the lack of national standards for security officer selection and training. The ASIS Standards and Guideline Commission published the Private Security Officer Selection and Training Guideline that lists the minimum recommendations for the selection and training of private security officers in order to “meet the needs of providing effective security as well as meeting the demands associated with homeland security initiatives.” According to the guidelines, security staff should be familiar with all aspects of a facility’s security system in order to assess and contain potential threats and they should be thoroughly screened and trained.

Four Actions to Validate Readiness of Office Complex Security Guard Services

  1. Undertake an Audit to Evaluate Compliance with your Contract. When we do so, we regularly uncover non-compliance in areas such as employee fitness; basic training; firearms training, licenses and permits; and CPR/first-aid certifications.
  2. Review Post Orders. Look for gaps or misallocation of resources given factors such as visitor traffic by time of day or night, criticality of protected areas, and physical security issues relative to specific access points.
  3. Evaluate Guard Services Policies and Training: Pay particular attention to training related to active shooter and use-of-force policies, particularly in light of your state and jurisdiction’s laws and regulations pertaining to these matters.
  4. Conduct a Due Diligence Background Investigation of the Service Provider: Assess the guard services firm’s approach to recurring background screening. Look for evidence of suits or complaints in the public record.

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An active shooter attack is over in five minutes or less. Would your team be prepared?