Photo by SecurityMatters

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Excuse me please for groaning a bit. Anyway, the more I look at this picture, the more I chuckle to myself in disappointment and wonder how many more security guards out there are like this one shown in the picture.

Well, it is a fact in the Philippine security industry that security guards, or all security professionals as a whole, perform multiple functions beyond what their job entails. Multi-tasking, I guess, is another expression for squeeze like lemons. Perhaps, that explains why at the end of every PDR (post duties and responsibilities), a job description document issued to the guard force, orders the recipient to perform “such other” instructions as may be deemed necessary by immediate superiors or management. Now, don’t get me wrong, a written post instruction is important, but not all security guards are issued with such! “Observe and report” are the guiding words of security guards, so expecting them to “make something out of nothing” isn’t fair.

Out there in the frontlines, security guards greet you as you enter popular food chains and supermalls, they act as lobby guards/receptionists at hotels and private companies, they operate as traffic enforcers in malls and several other business establishments, they work as store crew assistants — cleaning out the dishes atop the store tables, they function as messengers, they run personal errands, they hand over newspapers and letters to rightful owners, they even serve as telephone operators.

The featured picture shows how versatile and multi-talented security personnel in our country are.  Aside from performing their respective roles and joining hands with the national police in ensuring the safety of those under their care and combating lawless elements, they are likewise ready to accept menial tasks assigned to them by their immediate superiors and/or their client representatives, even if such move might compromise the integrity of their real profession.

True, performing tasks beyond what is expected of them may not be detrimental to their duties, but would not it be better for security personnel to focus on what matters most — protecting and guarding property and person?

The photo shows how the subject is whiling away his time toying with a water hose at a time when he is supposed to be keeping an eye on the vicinity he is guarding.  A dedicated, disciplined, and well-trained security guard must not utilize his time engaging in trivial activities that command his attention.  His sole focus must be his area of responsibility.  The place and the people he is tasked to look after, nothing else.

Lawless elements, of course, would not chuckle themselves in disappointment the way I did at the beginning. Both criminals and terrorists go for soft targets, which refer to people, places or things that are not subject to defense-in-depth security. The featured security guard looks like a sitting duck on the street as far as lawless elements are concerned. He also fits the profile of a target vulnerable to “agaw armas” (firearms snatching) activities. No doubt, with that stance, he serves as an instant magnet for those who want to grab his issued firearm

Obviously, he is not only inviting disaster upon himself but also to the facility under his watch. Bluntly speaking, he is more of a worthless appendage to the security system of his employer’s premises whenever he offers little or no psychological deterrence either with his self-imposed distraction or management-imposed “such other” instructions.

Without saying a word, a client does not get value for its money from security guard services, which is in reactive mode. In asset protection, an ounce of prevention, through effective and efficient guarding, is worth a pound of any security guard’s cleverness in reporting. On the other hand, there are certain characteristics which are inherent in security guards that tend to influence their effectiveness and efficiency. That is why it is always important to determine if their innate intelligence, training and experience are commensurate to the required ability.

It is today’s unwanted practice (I know because I have handled the same situations in the field for almost seven years) that some security guards make use of their working hours (whether 12-hour or 8-hour shift) for personal transactions rather than concentrating on conducting pro-active and protective measures to ensure the safety of his area of responsibility. These activities include, but are not limited to, taking opportunities to have additional income such as selling cosmetic products and accessories; gathering orders for RTWs; contacting small scale business partners through SMS; horse playing with fellow security personnel through their issued radios; getting cozy with female janitorial and maintenance service workers; computing their next paycheck though payout is ten days away; texting friends and relatives; analyzing the next lotto combination they will bet on…

Distractions like these might seem harmless at first glance, but if you try to take a closer look, you will know that this is something security service providers must be concerned about.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to read the mind of a security guard and determine precisely what motivates him. In view of this, they must discipline their guards, acquaint them with best-practices and procedures, and implement austere sanctions for those who violate the rules.

There is no reason to beat around the bush, so to speak. Being lax and nonchalant is something their guards cannot afford to be.  Be reminded that a security guard must always demonstrate mental alertness, emotional stability, good health and professional appearance and attitude. The mere presence of a professional-looking security guard is often enough to stop a crime in progress or prevent future crime. Certainly, an alert security guard can deter crime or direct criminals away from a property by use of observant gestures. Security work is typically routine, but security guards must be constantly alert for opportunistic aggression and such other threats to themselves and the property and people they are protecting. Distraction could lead to unnecessary destruction. Therefore, they must always be on their toes.  Vigilant.  Attentive. Decisive. With no hose in hand. •