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Security Guard

The Real Poop

So you'd like to carry a gun and a badge but don’t want to write arrest reports? Maybe you like to serve and protect but think patrol cars are a little gaudy? Or maybe you just can't get enough of bank lobbies but don’t want to have to worry about planning your own wardrobe every day? Welcome to the exciting potential available to those who aspire to be professional Security Guards!

We're all familiar with the stereotypical Rent-a-Cop, right? The pot-bellied, retired beat cop who apparently took the job because he doesn’t want to stop wearing handcuffs on his belt every day, but looks like it wouldn't hurt him to put down the Boston Cream and find a treadmill? Okay, that's true some of the time, but security guards range all the way from that guy to heavily muscled, SWAT team-level outfits who don't guard malls and bank lobbies so much as armored cars, VIPs, government facilities and a number of other things. Whether you lean Dunkin Donuts or Green Beret is up to you. Much like your gastrointestinal tract, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

Police can't be everywhere and many things flat out aren't their problem until a crime has been committed. However, for some inscrutable reason, people who own valuable things seem to prefer PREVENTING them from being stolen to having police investigate the theft. If you can imagine. Enter the security guard, a private employee who uses many of the same tools and techniques as law enforcement officers and, in some cases, receives similar training. They do now, anyway.

Once upon a time, way, way back as far as the 1980s, right after the Earth had cooled and the dinosaurs were just hitting their stride, security guards were typically called "watchmen," or, if they worked at night, follow closely on this one, "night watchmen."  They weren't paid much, weren't well trained (if trained at all), and were there pretty much to provide the property owner with a warm fuzzy that his or her stuff was at least being, as the title implied, watched. They were a visual deterrent but often not much else.

In the aftermath of 9/11, "security" became the ultimate buzzword. Now "watched" was no longer good enough. No, now stuff needed to be "guarded," and guarded well. Security companies couldn't get by on just having a guy who could keep a uniform from crumpling to the ground for 8-12 hours at a time. Nope, now customers wanted to know how many of your guards have military experience, how many have Special Forces experience, how many have law enforcement experience? Companies weren’t awarded security contracts anymore just because they were the lowest bidder; now, at least some of the time, they were awarded based on professionalism and competence.

But don't cry for the security companies. At first they didn't have that caliber of professionalism to offer because they didn't pay enough to attract it. But once they raised their pay scales, they were able to attract a slightly badder kind of uniform-holder-upper than they had previously. But it's worth noting most jobs are still entry-level positions that don't require that kind of background.

So now security guards come in all shapes and sizes, all calibers, with all levels of experience. Generally they're meant to be as visible as possible to dissuade anyone with nefarious intent from trying anything shifty. Their job is to prevent whatever crime a person is thinking of committing: theft, vandalism, breaking and entering, assault, twerking, buying Justin Bieber albums, etc.

What kind of training a soon-to-be-security guard will receive depends on which company he works for and what kind stuff he'll be protecting. Depending on his company's contract, he may be empowered to restrain suspects using handcuffs or zip-ties. He will likely be required to certify in CPR and general first aid. Count on receiving some kind of weapons training (9mm, .40, tasers, pepper spray, lawn darts, opera recordings, etc.). Depending on the nature of the company, they may want you to know this stuff already. And like a lot of other jobs, the more you know the more marketable you are.

Next let's take a look at a day in the life of two guards at opposite extreme ends of the badness spectrum.