Get Our Guards Certified

It was a proud moment for our family when our daughter Laurengraduated from college. But when I think about her graduation, itbrings to mind the issue of training in the security industry.

Her coursework was designed as preparation for a real-worldcareer, and campus security officer coursework should do the same. Butthere is a striking difference – the security industry lacksshared metrics for training quality and trainee performance.

StandardizedClasses Improve Guard Quality and Skills

Given that officers today must master a variety of tasks, it is
critical that contract security industry leaders agree on a
quantitative standard for security training. We need to assure our
education and healthcare clients, with metrics in place, that all
officers, both proprietary and contract, are certified to perform the
duties for which they have been employed. We need an officer
certification examination administered by an independent testing

Certification will not only ensure that all officers learnfundamental skills; it will also professionalize the entire industry.With reputations and bottom lines at stake, security organizations willbe compelled to train officers to high standards so they pass thecertified test. The results will be increased safety and security forour campus clients.

An important first step in fortifying current requiredtraining certifications is for the contract security industry toeducate decision makers at hospitals, schools and universities so theyunderstand the benefit of having certified officers at their sites.Increased levels of certification require rigid minimum standards andtesting processes that even highly trained officers may not/do nothave.

Security OfficerCertification Is Worth the Added Cost

One result of increased certification will be increased costs for
service. Campus security directors and administrators, however, will
accept the increased costs if contract security providers can show
them, through various forms of metrics, their money is yielding
quantifiable benefits in ensuring a level of standardized

More extensive first-aid training of onsite staff andincreased tactical training in spotting and addressing terroristthreats are just two examples of how certification can benefit campusclients. These metrics will also help the contract guard industry tohire and train a consistently higher caliber of securityofficer.

A first step would be a job task analysis. This would breakdown the security officer function and explore the critical elements ofboth the job and the skill level required so that training isappropriate to the task at hand and overall mission at any givensite.

Benchmarking performance through testing, training and regularretesting will offer a measure of acceptable task execution, improveservice and justify the need and cost. Through regularly evaluatingchanges in performance and altering the training based upon theseevaluations, we can offer the best possible service.

AppropriateTraining Leads to Increased Retention

For the industry, such a system would enhance long-term career
potential and attract self-motivated employees, which, in turn, would
further benefit our campus clients. Officers who devote time to
studying and being tested on professional curricula would be more
likely to perceive security as a career rather than just a job.
Certified officers would be better prepared for real-life scenarios,
and better positioned for promotions, higher compensation, added
respect and a greater professional sense of accomplishment.

The security industry has an obligation to train our officers whoprotect campuses across the country. Other industries that haveimplemented comprehensive certification programs have seen improvedemployee performance and increased career professionalism. For thecontract security industry, the time for change is now.

William (Bill)Whitmore Jr. is president and CEO of Allied-Barton Security Services.He can be contacted at www.alliedbarton.comfor more information.

For the unabridged version of this article, please refer to the March/April 2007 issue of Campus Safety Magazine. To subscribe, go to

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