Monday, November 9, 2009

Screening Security Guards

When we think of security guards, we often think of strong, husky men ready to protect both a building and the people within it. At least that's what I picture. Of course these men are stable; after all they're the ones kicking out the crazies. Recently though, the screening for security guards has been scrutinized. What if the security guards have passed all background checks with flying colors, yet they’ve never been psychologically assessed. People snap and scheme even if they have a seemingly clean background.

Recently an unarmed Newark Liberty International Airport security guard -- John Breck of Linden, N.J. -- was charged in a shooting threat against President Obama, resulting with three state felony counts. He was overheard making comments the day before Obama was due to arrive at Newark Airport. Breck had passed all the criminal background checks, but no psychological assessment had been required. Apparently under New Jersey state security guard licensing requirements, no psychological evaluation is necessary. A slightly unnerving thought if they're the ones keeping guard (Threat Suspect had passed Background Checks).

Perhaps you run a security guard business or you require security guards to protect whatever business you're in. A security guard is hired as part of a risk-management strategy; they are there to protect our assets. The problem is that most companies don't really care who the guard is, as long as they have one from their contracted security company. If we aren't the ones employing the security guards -- but rather contract this out to companies who do employ guards -- we never see their references and trust that background checks and a screening process has been performed. If contract security companies then contract to sub-contracted guards who aren't even their employees, then chances are no reference checks have been done, at least to the standard of the security company's employees. And then the business owners who have security guards protecting their premises may need protection from the guards themselves. This guard then has access to everything, even restricted areas.

When hiring a security guard for your company, be aware and ask questions. Does the security company have specific training for their guards? Have they had a background check and as importantly, have they been assessed psychologically? However if you are the security company, it's in your best interest to do these assessments and checks which will result in a reputable company with stand-up security guards.

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