The job of security officer / security guards is often a tough one, with officers facing unknown risks and threats every time they come to work. The nature of the profession means security officers / security guards must be ready for anything, including life-or-death situations. Even seemingly low-risk locations, such as shopping malls or sporting events, can turn dangerous quickly, and security officers / security guards who work in remote areas or at night face even higher risks. As the owner of a security guard company, it is vital that you understand what your employees face every day and how to protect them. Here’s what you need to know about crimes against security officers / security guards.
The Statistics for Crimes Against Security Officers / security guards
Being a security officer / security guard is dangerous, compared with other workers, though not as dangerous as serving as a police officer.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are about 1.1 million security officers / security guards working in the United States, the majority of them through investigation and security firms, compared with about 654,000 police officers. In 2014 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), the violent death rate was 1.36 per 100,000 for security officers and 8.23 for police officers; for the entire workforce, it was 0.52 per 100,000.
Assaults on security officers / security guards seem to be growing more common, although that may be a function of the fact that the number of security officers is growing as well.
In all states, crimes against police officers carry special punishments; an assault of a police officer often carries a felony charge, for example. These special statuses are sometimes extended to other professions, such as firefighters, emergency responders, EMTs and even teachers.
In some states, those status are applied to security officers / security guards, but they may not carry the same penalties as crimes against police officers. For example, in Illinois, charges of battery or assault are raised to “aggravated” when knowingly committed against a private security officer, peace officers, community policing volunteers, and correctional institution employees, but upping it to a felony charge depends on the prosecutor. In California, however, the crime of “battery on a peace officer” applies to both police officers and security officers / security guards, as well as protected roles including lifeguards, doctors and nurses providing emergency medical care.
There is some merit to giving crimes against security officers / security guards special status, says Chris Hertig, a board member for the International Federation for Protection Officers, which helps set education and training standards for security officers / security guards. As initial responders in crimes, security officers / security guards may play roles similar to law enforcement, and arguably should have higher protections based on that.
The issue, however, is that that status can also imply law enforcement authority, or blur the line between security officers / security guards and police officers. “Giving a special status is a step in that direction,” he says.
Hertig says he’s unaware of nationwide initiatives to increase penalties for crimes against security officers / security guards. “I don’t see a big push for it, although down the road that could change,” he says. But an uptick in violent crime could bring a greater public awareness of the risks security officers / security guards face, he says: “The first person on the scene faces the greatest danger, and in many cases, that’s a security officer.” In addition, increased use of cellphone cameras in confrontations could boost awareness of crimes against security officers / security guards.
Hertig also says that increased violence against security officers / security guards is likely to affect the way employers train them. “You can’t just put uniforms on people and hand them a policy,” he says. Employers who want to boost training efforts for their security officers / security guard can provide more information about de-escalation and responding to active threats.
How do you think crimes against security officers should be prosecuted? Are the charges and penalties heavy enough, or should they be changed? With security officers / security guards providing a significant contribution to law and order by putting their lives on the line, how do you think crimes against security officers / security guards should be prosecuted? Please feel free to leave your comments.