Here is a picture of something scary and dangerous: a guard sleeping. If he is on duty, the guard is breaking all the 11 general orders of a sentinel. He is sleeping and not doing his job. This picture, no matter how humorous it may be, is something to be taken seriously. The picture shows more than just a guard sleeping but the idea of complacency and lapse in security.
It may not be a simple job to become a security guard. Checking bags, standing by the door, sitting in a post, and walking around your assigned perimeter can also be tiring.
Losing focus is losing the attention one gives to his task. Focus gradually disappears as time passes and when the person involved is doing a task that is routinely boring. It is expected that mental stress will take its toll on security guards if they have been checking bags for almost an hour.
We have to understand the everyday challenges of a security guard. These include standing, walking, and keeping watch all day which are not easy. It may even be more difficult than what most people do – sitting in front of computers all day. Like all of us, security guards come under physical and mental stress in doing their jobs.
For the public, we should understand that the job of a security guard is not an easy one. We should not take the role of security guards for granted. Because aside from being the ones we ask for directions when we’re lost, they are the ones that ensure that we are protected. But also, guards should not take for granted their jobs.
The main problem is not just the sleeping guard.
The Larger Picture
A sleeping guard shows part of a larger picture. It goes beyond guards sleeping while on duty, missing from their post, and not following procedures. It shows the picture of complacency and lack of focus which causes a large lapse in security.
Without focus, guards won’t be effective in doing their jobs. For example, the most common task of a security guard is to check bags. Lack of focus makes them just poke sticks inside bags without really inspecting them. Sometimes, bags are not checked at all. I personally take the trouble of opening my bags for inspection. It’s a hassle to me, so the least that guards can do is look inside and see if there is anything weird or concealed. Checking bags may be a hassle for passengers or shoppers but it is necessary to avoid a large problem after. It is a necessary hassle for everyone’s security and it would only be effective if bags are checked properly.
Recently, there has been a well-publicized robbery in a large mall in Mandaluyong City. It could have been prevented if guards were able to prevent a gun from being taken inside mall premises. Even if the gun was sneaked in, the behavior can be identified if security was alert enough.
With focus and alertness, any robbery can be prevented. If guards are alert and able to sense criminal behavior, maybe he or she can react quickly and disarm robbers.
Going back to the sleeping guard, he should be punished for his deliberate neglect of his duty. Even if it is not his shift, he should not sleep while in uniform. What comes into mind when one sees a sleeping guard?
Seeing a uniformed guard sleeping may be a funny sight. But after a few moments, a realization will sink in. The realization would be: If you are sleeping, who is guarding?
Guards should be watchful over the property they are protecting. But criminal elements are also watchful for every opportunity that would present itself. If guards are found sleeping, criminals could easily break into establishments and areas they are supposed to protect. This endangers the property and lives that the guards are meant to be watching over. Criminals will exploit any opportunity they encounter. A guard that is patulog-tulog tells that security is lax. Looking lax and neglectful in security is an open invitation for criminals to do crime in an establishment.
Also, appearance can spell security. The presence of a guard, especially if looking “snappy” or alert, may be enough to scare the most petty of criminals. Therefore, security guards should not sleep on their post. No naps, no shuteyes, not even for a moment. Also, they have to be well-groomed, wear proper uniform, and carry a weapon.
Alertness Increases Reaction Time
But what can guards do against criminals having lots of guts and well-thought plans? If not sleeping around and always alert, guards can react quickly and effectively in any emergency situation. It’s part of their training on how to react and respond to crises.
Surprise and stealth are the main advantage of criminals. So what do the guards have? Among others, guards have their training. If guards take their training and job seriously, they might be able to identify early if something is not normal. Once identified, they will be alert and might be able to respond appropriately.
In the end, Discipline
It all boils down to discipline of the guards. In the simplest form – wearing proper uniform shows the level of discipline and how committed a guard is in doing his job. First impressions last so the impression that guards give to the public may be enough to discourage any criminal in targeting the property the guard is protecting.
Going back to the sleeping guard, a guard must do whatever it takes not to fall asleep or get bored while watching over the property and people under his or her watch. It is part of discipline in the job; to do what is right even when nobody is looking.
There is always a threat from criminals who would choose to strike anytime given an opportunity. And the guard is the first line of security of an establishment. If a guard won’t sleep in his post and do his job properly, we can all work, play, and sleep soundly in our respective places. But the greatest threat to our security might be the guard sleeping soundly in a corner.
(This story was contributed by Lawrence Dipasupil, who received P1,000 for interpreting our Featured Photo.)