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martes, 29 de septiembre de 2015

My Misadventures in the Security Guard Industry

Courtney Sparkman
Founder, CEO at OfficerReports.com


i-love-security-guard-industry

I often reminisce about my time helping start and manage my family’s security guard company and I can’t believe that I made it through all the challenges.  In fact, the security guard industry at certain points has been the bane of my existence, but at the same time the most fun that I’ve ever had.  I’ve learned so many lessons about people, business, and life in general that I wouldn’t trade-in my experiences for anything.

The security guard industry is a people industry, so we’ve all run into some great people and some real characters.  I was recently trading war stories with the owner of a security guard company about some of my most memorable “security guard” moments and thought I would share them with you as well.

A Muslim in the Security Guard Industry

One of my captains came to my office one day and informed me that he had to reprimand one of our officers, who was Muslim, for praying while on the job.  That statement concerned me because I wasn’t interested in running afoul of any Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC) regulations.  At that time I was a little familiar with Muslim prayer rituals, so I went into a long explanation about protected classes and EEOC rules.  I then went on to explain to the captain that we would have to make some accommodations for the officer’s religious needs.

After the captain had sat patiently and waited for me to finish my lecture, he asked “Should I also make accommodations for his flip-flops, Bermuda shorts, sunglasses, and praying while  laying on his back on the condominium building’s lawn looking up at the sky?”  I told him to disregard my speech, those things had nothing to do with prayer.

The Security Guard Industry is Like Poker, You Have to Bluff

There was a security officer that we had on staff that had begun to become a problem employee.  I’d heard through several employees that the officer was pilfering parts from an auto salvage yard that he was posted at overnight.  In order to terminate this officer I decided to conduct an internal investigation.

One night I arrived at his site and hid in a place where I had a good vantage point of the entire facility.  Once the officer arrived, I saw him do a full patrol and then return to the front of the site and let someone in through the front gate.  I thought to myself “Got ’em!”  I waited about 20 minutes then proceeded to the front of the site.  When I got there the officer was not there, but the unauthorized visitor was.  He was removing a part from one of the vehicles.  The dialogue when something like this:

  • Me: “What are you doing here?”
  • Unauthorized Visitor: “Uhhhhhhh…ummmm…uhhhhhh”  

By that time the officer had come back and looked at his visitor and said:

  • Officer: “Man what are you doing here?”  
  • Me: “Officer, so are you telling me that you don’t know this guy?” 
  • Officer: “Well, yeah I know him that’s my brother-in-law.”
  • Me: “So are you telling me that you didn’t let him on the property?”
  • Officer: “No sir I didn’t.”
  • Me: “Well I guess I am going to have to arrest him and call the police.”
  • Officer: “Yeah you should.”
  • Me: “…Ok”

Although I had enough evidence to terminate him, I wanted him to confess.  So I called the police and told the security officer that the police were on their way.  I’m thinking to myself “There is no way that he is going to let his brother-in-law get arrested, he thinks I’m bluffing.” I just knew that when he saw the squad car pull up, that he would confess and I would have everything I needed for immediate termination.

But when the police car arrived, he said “Ok, I’ll let them in”.  By this time his brother-in-law is looking completely dumbfounded…and so was I.  I explained to the police officers that the person in custody was the officer’s brother-in-law and that he was trespassing and attempting to steal some parts.  The police officers must have picked up on what was going on.

  • Police: “If you didn’t let this guy on the property then we are going to take him into custody.” 
  • Officer: “Ok”
  • Police: “So we should take him?”
  • Officer: “Yeah”

So the police took off my handcuffs, put theirs on, and took him away.  The officer then said to his brother-in-law “I bet this will teach you a lesson.”  Talk about a poker face…

When Did The Prices Go Up?

Back in about 2007 we had a contract with a newly opened school in Chicago that wanted our company to provide a security guard to monitor their over-flow parking lot.  The officer’s duties were to allow parents and teachers from the school to park in the parking lot after verifying their identification.  Usually there were no more than 20 -30 cars parked in the lot at any given time.

Simple right?  Well a few weeks after we’d started the contract I received a call from a VERY irate woman.  She was upset that we had raised the prices at the parking lot without giving any notice.  I had no idea what she was talking about, we weren’t responsible for collecting any money.  I told her that we don’t charge for use of the lot and that I would investigate.

I immediately drove over to the lot to discover that it was full of cars (100+) that belonged to the customers of the businesses surrounding the school.   The officer had been charging each non-school related vehicle $5 to park.  When he decided to increase his pricing (due to inflation I’m sure) I guess it ticked off a lot of his customers.  I terminated him on the spot and he didn’t even blink.  I wonder why…

I Didn’t Want To Get Fired

Back when we were just getting started, we had an overnight contract at a small senior citizens apartment building where our officers were responsible for receiving and buzzing in visitors.  As part of the security guard inventory for the post, we were given two keys to the manager’s office which also served as the security office after hours.  The office was at the front of the building and had a small receptionist window that allowed the officer to see who was entering the building and check-in visitors.

Because we only had two keys and the manager was adamant about not having additional keys made, we decided that one of our company managers would keep one of the keys in case someone got looked out of the office.  My father volunteered to be the designated key-holder.  At some point during the contract, the officer that was staffing that post locked himself out of the office four to five times in a two-week span.  Because my father had the second key, he had to go to the site to let the officer in.  Keep in mind that this was an overnight shift so he was receiving the calls for assistance at all hours of the night.  At some point my father understandably told the officer that the next time he locked himself out of the office, the officer was going to be terminated.

Several days after that conversation with the officer I received a phone call from the client at that site.  She informed me that there had been an incident and I needed to be on site immediately.  When I arrived, she informed me that the officer had broken out the small receptionist window at the site.  After speaking to the officer to try to understand what would make him do that he said “I had to crawl through the window to get in the office. I didn’t want to get fired for getting locked out again…”

I could go on and on with the stories that I’ve accumulated over the years working in the security guard industry, but I am sure that you have your own stories as well.  I would love to hear any stories that you are willing to share in the comment section below.  Who knows, maybe this will be the start of the book that everyone has been talking about writing.

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