Private Security Companies-Good Investment or Waste of Money?
There are a few common reasons why businesses hire private security companies. One reason is the thought that a security guard’s presence will stop theft and other crimes. The other reason is that private security companies have insurance policies that would cover lawsuits, judgments, etc. However, keep the following information in mind when, or better yet, before hiring a private security company.
Nearly all private security companies advertise that their “guards” are highly trained and certified. However, in most cases, that means they are trained and licensed by the state minimum requirements which are a background check through the FBI and Department of Justice, a 40 hour course of required training (eight hours of training prior to being assigned a post, 16 hours within the first 30 days and another 16 hours within six months) and a written exam. In most cases, security companies are licensed to administer the training. What many times ends up happening is that the actual training time is a few hours at best and the “guard” is allowed to use the book during the test. Sometimes they do not even receive any training time and are just given the book to use to take the test! Keep in mind however; this is not always the case; there are some companies that do the training as required. Further, most security companies do not provide any additional or continual training.
According to the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Service (BSIS), a security guard’s job is to protect persons and/or property and prevent theft, with an emphasis on prevention. However, most security companies have a “hands off” policy. What this means is that the security guards cannot get involved in anything. For example, if someone walks into a convenience store and walks out with a case of beer in each hand, the security guards only course of action is to call the police or call their company who will decide whether or not to call police. The reason for this is because the security company doesn’t want the liability risk of a lawsuit or to have to pay a security guard who gets hurt on the job. With that in mind, a business’s own employees can do exactly the same thing. However, the Bureau of Security and Investigative Service does offer guidelines for security guards to make arrests, as California law (Penal Code 834) allows for citizens to make lawful arrests.
Lack of training plays a major role in fear of lawsuits for security companies. Many security companies do not provide training other than what the state requires and even that sometimes is not administered as it should be. Proper screening and training can be time consuming and expensive, especially when security contracts generally go to the lowest bidder. As with anything else, you get what you pay for.
On average, security companies charge in the area of $14 per hour for unarmed security guards. The security guard will probably only get about $9.50 on average. For armed security, the average charged is $15.50 per hour and the security guard will get around $12. That’s not very much money left over to train someone who carries a weapon that has the potential to kill someone. If a security company charges under $14 per hour for an armed security guard or under $13 per hour for unarmed security, there is good reason to be suspicious as to why the fee is so low.
It is not uncommon for security companies to operate without a license or insurance, have unlicensed security guards or employ illegal immigrants, most of which do not even speak English. This is generally what is happening if a security company charges lower than average rates. If a security company does not have insurance, any loss, judgments or damages will be the responsibility of the business. Additionally, there are security companies out there that when issued a judgment in court will file bankruptcy and open under a new name.
Some companies offer patrol services and alarm response. The problem with patrol services is that in most cases one patrol vehicle has a large area to patrol and usually a set schedule of patrol which allows thieves and vandals to do their handy work. And the problem with alarm response is that as with patrol, the area to cover is so big that local police usually arrive first. Some smaller companies go as far as having an alarm company call a security supervisors cell phone, who may be at home, then calls a security guard at home to have them go check the location in their private vehicle.
Most security companies advertise security consulting services. Every security company in the Coachella valley that offers consulting services also provide security services. The problem with this is that in most cases, their hidden agenda is to get business owners to hire their company to perform security services, not to design the best security plan that meets an individual business’s needs.
It is highly suggested that one do their homework prior to hiring a security company. Some things to require of a security company are: proof of security license (Private Patrol Operator-PPO), liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, drug screening policy (at hiring and post-incident), security officer license and permits, and proof of state and federal tax identification.
Before hiring a security company, alarm response, patrol company or any other security vendors, contact us for an evaluation.
Security companies will take advantage of someone if they feel that that person doesn't know much about security. In addition, many security companies advertise security consulting however; their only goal is to place their security guards and install their equipment in an effort to make a larger profit.
In so many cases, security guards have little to no training which places a potential liability to their clients.
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