It was about 6 p.m. and Jack, a security guard, was already tired.
He had worked the graveyard shift at the docks the previous night and made it home in just enough time to shower, change, eat breakfast and leave for work again.
The shift was killing him, but he only had two more hours of watching the lobby and the 10 little black-and-white screens that captured everything that happened in the building.
Knowing he had a job to do, he kept his tired eyes on the screens , or at least he tried. Not really noticing anything at all, he didn’t think much of the guy who left the building an hour later, even though everyone was usually gone by 5 p.m.
The next day, Jack learned that an employee had stolen some software that had just been developed. The company was hoping to revolutionize the way business was done on the Internet when it released the software later that month, but instead the company was faced with an uphill battle against copycat software.
Surveillance tapes later identified the employee who was responsible, but the damage was already done. When questioned, Jack said he didn’t notice because he was too tired , he had been working three jobs to make ends meet.
While this is just a story, it highlights one of the problems the security industry faces, according to Joseph V. Ferrer, director of San Diego-based Dignitary Protection International Agency.
Ferrer has worked in the industry for 10 years and says most companies don’t really know who is being entrusted to safeguard their business and staff. He started the executive protection agency five years ago.
– Industry Has A
High Turnover Rate
The industry has a turnover rate of 400 percent, which means a guard is replaced every three months, he said.
In addition, most security services only pay their guards $6 or $7 an hour, which can result in moonlighting and fatigue that greatly effects alertness on the job, Ferrer said.
The median hourly wage is $7.49, according to the 1998 Metropolitan Area Occupation Employment and Wage Estimates for San Diego from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Guards often have to work more than one job due to economic survival. This leads to a fatigue factor, which leads to complacency, or worse, corporate espionage,” he said.
“Knowing that, why does industry entrust a guard who makes minimum wage to protect their employees and company assets?” he asked rhetorically.
Keeping this in mind, Ferrer makes sure his employees are paid well , all DPIA guards start at $10 per hour.
– Employee Maintenance
Means Clients’ Bills Go Up
Although he is committed to paying and training his employees, this philosophy means that Ferrer has to charge more to provide protective services. This often means he loses a contract to a cheaper service, he said.
Committed to providing protective services that emulate the U.S. Secret Service, Ferrer said his guards are required to complete training beyond the state’s requirements.
In order to be a registered guard, a person must be at least 18 years old, undergo a criminal background check, complete a two-hour training course and an exam, and submit an application and fingerprint cards, according to the Web site for the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.
Ferrer, who has a military background, makes sure all employees complete requirements for a Police Officers Standard of Training certificate and that they continually work on their firearm skills.
While making sure that his employees continually maintain their skills and appropriate licenses, Ferrer said that these costs might drive up the price tag for protective services.
However, training is important because it will ensure that a guard will be able to diffuse and properly handle any situation that might arise, he said.
– Guards Need Training
In Law Enforcement
A guard must know standard policies and procedures and how to best assist law enforcement officials when called, Ferrer said.
While protective and security agencies should make sure that employees are prepared for a job, Ferrer said that businesses also have a responsibility when hiring an agency.
He said companies should ask the following questions:
o How long has the agency been in business?
o What are the agency’s policies and procedures?
o How many hours of training do their employees receive besides the standard security guard training?
o Who conducts the training? Is it someone in the agency or is it an outside firm or expert such as a police officer?
In addition to these questions, an interviewer should check to make sure the agency and its employees have the proper licenses, insurance and appearance, Ferrer said.
– Appearances Are
Important To Agencies
The appearance, including the gear and fitness of an agent being interviewed, can say much about the agency, he said.
If the person’s gear looks clean and well maintained, chances are the person is serious about their job. Physical condition may hint to a person’s ability to engage in situations that may arise.
The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services also has additional guidelines posted on their Web site at (www.dca. ca.gov/bsis). The site outlines what training, certification, or licensing a guard must have to carry various types of weapons or other deterrents. Local authorization and permits may also be required in addition to state licensing.
For example, in order for a guard to carry a concealed firearm, he or she must have a permit to carry a firearm and a concealed weapon, the site states.
An agency must have a private patrol operator’s license and managers in charge should be a Department of Consumer Affairs-qualified manager, states the site.
“Security guards cannot contract as sole proprietors , a private patrol operator must employ them.”
– Several Estimates
The Department of Consumer Affairs also recommends that consumers obtain three or more estimates for services and to know and understand exactly what services are being provided before signing a contract.
A company can also call the consumer affairs department at (800) 952-5210 to find out whether a license is valid, to get a complaint history, or to file a complaint.
The Better Business Bureau or the local district attorney’s office may also be able to provide additional information.