Did you know that your security liability exposure may be increased if you have security officers on staff? The increased exposure will not be a direct result of having security officers, more so unlicensed, untrained or under-trained security officers.
Security Guard License
Even though a properly managed security protection program is often designed to reduce the risks of security incidents, there are a large number of companies that have actually increased their security liability exposure and are not following the law.
Case-in-point, California requires that all security officers, either proprietary or contract officers be licensed through the state; Department of Consumer Affairs – Bureau of Security & Investigate Services (BSIS). This would include bouncers at nightclubs and bars. However, a recent news story with NBC 7 San Diego, reported that 70-75% of working security guards are not properly licensed.
State Mandates for Security Officers
In the case above, California requires a defined number of training hours that all security officers are required to have prior to assuming an assignment and working as a security officer. However, the issue with the requirement is that it is mainly an honor system, whereas security personnel have to receive their initial training in order to get their “Guard Card,” but that initial training is only part of their required mandate. The rest of their required training can often be the responsibility of their employers to insure that it is completed, yet many employers are not always aware of the law or its requirements.
The California examples points to the larger issue and that is laws are in place to insure consistency across the state, yet the criteria to insure that the laws are being followed consistently is just not there. In this case the state of California has existing laws, regulations and minimum requirements for security officers, yet the compliance and ongoing auditing of the law is just not there. If it was in place, would there be a possible 70-75% of security officers that were not properly licensed?
The issue with under-trained, untrained, or unlicensed security officers is not just a problem in California. Several states have had the same issue, and in many cases it has been determined that the issue is with the employers not following the law, not the laws themselves. So when it comes down to it, it is the responsibility of the employer to insure compliance with all applicable laws and standards.
There are also several states in the United States that have no requirements for security officers. In other words, you could walk into an employer today and become a security officer without any training required or even any background checks.
Security Background Checks
It does not take a whole lot of effort to find news stories online where security personnel have been called into question about their background after a serious incident. In some cases security officers were hired to protect a company’s assets even though that officer had a felony conviction on their criminal history record.
The issue was that no background check was required by law, and therefore some employers failed to conduct one. Why? That is a million dollar question; literally in some cases where civil litigation resulted in million dollar settlements.
You would think that in today’s world of increased workplace violence, the threat of terrorism in everyday places such as malls, and with internal losses due to employee thefts that employers would be taking the extra steps to protect themselves. Conducting pre-employment background checks on the very personnel that will hold the keys to your company should be a standard step, even if it is not required by law. But that is just not the case.
Security Liability Exposure Mitigation Steps
Although not all liability risk exposure can be eliminated, there are many steps that an employer can take to make positive efforts to insure that their risks are reduced. Some of those steps include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Require pre-employment background checks on all security personnel, even if not required by law.
- Check all previous employers listed on applications, and be wary of unexplained gaps in employment.
- Insure that all security personnel are properly trained as per industry standards and best practices.
- Establish an ongoing training program for your security staff.
- Know your state’s requirements for licensing and training based on regulations.
- Audit your security department’s training files to insure compliance with laws and standards.
- Know your security vulnerabilities and risks by conducting a security risk assessment.
- Insure that your security management is current on industry practices and maintains ongoing training and education.
- Measure your security’s effectiveness based on the number of incidents (e.g. is the number of incidents going up, and what measures are put in place to reduce them and are those measures effective?).
The listed items above are just a small example of the number of things that organizations can and should do to minimize their security liability exposure. The best way to start down the road of minimizing risks and liability exposure is to conduct an unbiased security risk assessment; unbiased in the sense that insuring it is conducted by an independent security consultant.
Some internal security risk assessments have been referred to as biased, because they can often fail to identify all of the internal security issues. That is not to say that all internal reports are biased, because that is not always the case. The important thing is to know the difference and understand that these reports have to be unbiased, even if that means reporting things that are not favorable.
The End Goals Are:
- To be compliant with all applicable laws and regulations, and insure that all security personnel are properly licensed, trained and managed.
- You know what security risks your program is protecting against.
- Know if your security program is following industry standards and best practices.
- To insure that your security program is working based on goals in place to reduce the number of security incidents overall, and to keep current on known and emerging security threats.
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