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A CURIOUS LACK OF RESPECT

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A CURIOUS LACK OF RESPECT

Post by Admin on Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:36 pm

A CURIOUS LACK OF RESPECT


By Honor Boone
“Do you know who I am?” Typically this question is presented to me at a Hollywood event by some frustrated, contemptuous, self-important studio or network executive. In urban legend, an airline gate agent responds to the same query by making the following announcement on the PA system: “Ladies and gentlemen, I have a man here at the podium who has forgotten his name. If you have any information about his identity, please step forward at this time.” As part of the security team, I don’t usually have access to a PA system, and so my response would be something more like this: “Yes. You are the man/woman for whom I will risk my life when your stalker/disgruntled former employee/ex-spouse or some other random criminal shows up here to attack you. Now show me your wristband/ID badge/ticket or turn around and go home.” Of course I’ve never actually said this, because providing security services is how I make a living, and the world of high-end VIP protection is a surprisingly small one. Somehow it spans the entire nation with a limited number of players, and very few women. In other words, reputation is everything, and I cannot afford to alienate any client or employer without risking long-term consequences.
Please, don’t get me wrong; I enjoy doing personal protection, in spite of such encounters; decent money, travel, variety, and the satisfaction of providing – at the very least – peace of mind to people who, for one reason or another, might be at risk. In general, I am respected – by clients, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers – by virtue of my profession. And, right or wrong, this respect is something that makes my job worthwhile, something I value tremendously. No one has ever seen me draw a weapon, disable an attacker with martial arts training, or evacuate a client from a dangerous situation. Yet I am (generally) respected because I am called a “bodyguard” or “executive protection agent.” A few people have been impressed simply because I’ve had my photo in a major magazine, for example, standing next to an A-list movie star and watching over his children. And yet, inexplicably, if you put me in a guard’s uniform instead of a suit, in an office building, mall, or armored car instead of limo or Bel Air mansion, I somehow become a “Mall cop” or “Rent-A-Cop” i.e. a big fat joke.
So-called “security guards” are expected to put their safety on the line every day for the public in hundreds of thousands of offices, schools, shopping malls, hotels, airports, and sport and entertainment venues at, in many cases, little more than minimum wage. Licensed and trained (by state mandate in California), they screen visitors, control traffic, patrol and inspect property, transport valuables, and monitor emergency and security systems for signs of danger in order to protect you and your children every day. They will be the first to confront any intruder, and the last to leave in an evacuation. They work graveyard shifts so that your property won’t be stolen, and to enable other night workers to be safe. They are expected to perform many of the dangerous duties of a police officer with only the powers of a private citizen. Personally, I am outraged and confused by the vast discrepancy between the treatment of the “glamorous” bodyguard and lowly security guard. And I believe you should be too.
Perhaps you think I exaggerate. If so, consider the following: sixty-four police officers died in the 9-11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, men and women who remained on site to help evacuate occupants. Understandably, the NYPD received a great deal of press and media attention for their heroic efforts during the crisis. Slightly less clear, however, was the nearly complete absence of press or public tribute to the 33 security guards and managers who died at their posts that same day. http://www.ifpo.org/resources/articles-and-reports/officer-issues/death-by-homicide-and-the-american-security-guard/. At Morgan Stanley, the largest tenant at the World Trade Center (21 floors of the south tower), only six employees died; three were “security officials” who stayed behind to help evacuate the building.http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/sept11/2001/12/19/usatcov-wtcsurvival. Security guards have also , during certain years, been the biggest casualty of workplace homicides. In 2011, for exqmple, 38 “officers” were slain on duty.http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/work_hom_2011.pdf (down from previous years). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American security guard consistently occupies one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S..http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/02/art1full.pdf. Yet the mean (average) annual wage for a security guard in America was $27,240 as of 2012. In New York, that number was slightly higher, with an average hourly wage of $14.32.http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339032. But that is only an average. Those same BLS statistics show that, as of 2012, half of all security guards in the U.S. earned $11.52 an hour or less. And in Los Angeles, one of the most expensive cities in the country, I frequently see guard jobs posted at under $10 per hour. Should a woman who is willing to put herself at risk to protect you earn less than the barista who makes your latte each morning? Am I the only person who thinks this is ludicrous?
Of course the way we think about certain jobs is deeply embedded in our culture. In parts of the world where the public safety has been pervasively affected by violent attacks (e.g. England and Israel), I have experienced a greater degree of cooperation and mutual respect between the community and security personnel; in those places, people are aware that, in public, their safety is to a large extent dependent on security guards. But in the U.S., where people still consider themselves relatively safe, and depend primarily on an off-site police force as their first line of defense, a security guard remains an annoyance, a mere obstacle between a law-abiding citizen and some form of immediate gratification. As a result, it is almost always a thankless job which tends to invite sarcasm, hostility, and even verbal abuse i.e. all the attitude an average (sober) person would never dare to unleash on a police officer.
For better or worse, as more and more security guards become a permanent fixture in schools and workplaces, we must all find a way to co-exist for the foreseeable future. This should not be difficult, at least in theory; we are on the same “side,” and we do not delight in complicating your day. When we ask to see your work ID for the umpteenth time, or remove the backpack you left in the lobby, we take those sensible precautions so that you can go home to your loved ones at the end of the day. And when you unleash your wrath, we can still go home and sleep easy knowing that we have not cut corners simply to appease you.
Personally, I believe that the American security guard will eventually be seen as a valuable player – a facilitator – especially as state standards become more demanding and training improves. Until that time we may all continue to feel like strange bedfellows, as least while daily life remains relatively safe. Unfortunately, society pays a price when security measures are “reactive” rather than “pro-active.” Let’s hope that the impending attitude shift comes sooner rather than later. In the meantime, when you see a security guard at the mall, your church or synagogue, your office, or your child’s school, say “Thank you,” whether you mean it or not; once the shock wears off, you will make someone’s day.
________________________

Honor Boone is an executive protection agent and security officer based out of Los Angeles, CA.


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BryanM35

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Re: A CURIOUS LACK OF RESPECT

Post by BryanM35 on Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:06 am

A security guard job can be a risky sometimes. A security guard is a very wide term, obviously there is risk, but you have to be trained to become a security guard and after getting skilled training you will learn how to deal with an aggressive person.
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Nightwatchman

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Re: A CURIOUS LACK OF RESPECT

Post by Nightwatchman on Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:10 am

A good read! An I have heard a similar suggestion for a repose. I MIGHT say: `Well, sir, do you have some ID...let's find out just who you are'. But, like OP I do not say this, for similar reasons. I was in sales at that time.I am looking forward to more training, but my verbal judo learned in other jogs will help. No trouble at my post on a construction site, yet, as things should be. I watch for fire hazards, unauthorized personnel, vandalism,theft and other hazards. Up late now so I can better ease in to work this evening.
Good morning fellow guards and other security personnel!


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