The Expanding Duties of Security Officers
“Look busy.” It’s a command given by supervisors in many industries, but in none of those industries is it more prevalent than with security. In some ways, it’s the nature of the beast. Full-time security officers are paid based on what they are trained, prepared and willing to do, not what they actually do, in most cases. You only need the armed officer at the entrance to the jewelry store when someone tries to rob it. Unfortunately, that means that when the store is not being robbed, the security officer looks like he or she is doing nothing, no matter how alert and prepared the officer may be. The world is becoming a more dangerous place, and more and more institutions are feeling the pressure to hire security officers (or more security officers), but they don’t want to pay someone to “just stand around.” The solution companies sometimes jump to is assigning non-security tasks to security officers.
Some tasks make sense for security to perform. Since an officer is standing at the front door anyway, it makes sense that they should act as a greeter and give directions and assistance to people as they enter. If officers do regular patrols around a campus in vehicles, there shouldn’t be a problem with giving an employee a ride from one building to another. The problem comes in when these tasks are pushed to the extreme.
For example, if the greeter is handing out stacks of flyers at the door or making phone calls to office workers to announce the arrival of their appointments, they’re not really going to be in a position to respond when the threat appears at the front door. If the officer driving around on patrol has a carload of people all the time, they will not be focused on watching for dangers to the facility. If a security officer watching a bank of cameras is asked to stuff envelopes in their “down time,” they may not be looking at the cameras at the exact moment they need to.
While security officers can be helpful to other departments, it is dangerous for them to constantly wear two hats. Basically, what it comes down to is that security officers should be expected to perform their security duties first and foremost, with any other task only being assigned only if it will not be a distraction and can be safely and quickly dropped in an emergency.