PSIS - Security Guard Study Guide Basic Security Procedures

Private Security and Investigative Services

Basic Testing

Security Guard Test Preparation Guide


Section 3 - Basic Security Procedures

Security guards need to respond to changes in their environment, which includes actions such as traffic movement, ensuring the safety of persons between and within locations, monitoring and managing the access and departure of persons and vehicles and observing and monitoring people. Security guards need to be aware of the correct way to deal with these situations. They should have the knowledge and skills required to assess the security of physical environments, to apply basic aspects of security in their roles and to assess the impact of drug use in the context of safety for oneself and others. This section represents generally accepted practices throughout the security guard industry.

Important Note:
In this section a number of activities are discussed which are generally accepted as good practices for someone working as a security guard. Practices may vary from one security company to the next so in addition to understanding the requirements of the legislation and regulations it is important the security guard is also familiar with the policies of their employer and not to rely solely on subjects covered in this guide or the ministry syllabus.

Duties of a security guard

The duties and responsibilities of a guard vary from site to site. Guards must be well attuned to changes and developments within the industry and the expectations and obligations that are owed to the client, the public, and/or their employer.

It is the role of a security guard to protect people, property and information.

This may involve but is not limited to:

  • Ensuring premises and property are protected in an appropriate and effective fashion against a variety of natural and man-made threats.
  • Preventing, detecting and reacting appropriately to the commission of criminal and quasi-criminal actions on or against the property of the client.
  • Interacting with law enforcement officials and the justice system, where necessary, such as apprehending and detaining someone who has committed a criminal offence. Security may be able to supplement the efforts of police by securing crime scenes until the police can arrive. Security personnel may also be a valuable source of information to the police.
  • Providing leadership and direction in emergencies and assisting emergency personnel in times of crisis, e.g. directing fire fighters to the easiest/best way to get to the scene of the fire.
  • Controlling access to a site, including monitoring entrance & gate passage, escorting people & valuables, inspecting bags.
  • Controlling or restoring order to a crowd.
  • Preventing work accidents by being aware of potential dangers, reporting safety hazards and following directions to minimize the risk posed to others.

While there can be no doubt that some situations will involve physical intervention, the majority of tasks assigned require a security guard to observe, deter, record and report only.

Access Control

Access control policies vary from company to company.

Security guards may be required to observe and record who enters and exits a site. A completed log sheet should record the individual’s name and the time of entrance to, and exit from the site. The information obtained will permit guards to locate visitors, either while on the property in the event of an emergency, or at a later time after they have left.

A visitor’s pass also contains information which helps the guards to determine whether a visitor has to be escorted, the name of the person who has authorized the visit, the status of the visitor and their business while on the site.

Material Access

One of the most sensitive tasks that a security guard will have to deal with is the issue of the removal of materials from a work site. People routinely leave a site with things like computers, computer disks, and briefcases full of materials.

The client (for example, a warehouse owner) must determine what steps are necessary to protect his/her property. Security should follow these instructions carefully. The guard should comply with the rules of access and protocols which should be provided by the security guard’s supervisor when introducing employees to a new site.

Crowd Control

On private property, a security guard may have a role in maintaining crowd control and if it escalates, there may be a necessity to call the police. When crowd control is necessary, efforts to restore the peace or to control the crowd should be made with several things in mind:

  1. the risk to life and/or property whether or not action is taken.
  2. the personal risk to the security guard.
  3. instructions of the guard’s supervisor or the client.
  4. risks posed by leaving the post.
  5. availability of support or backup.
  6. urgency.
  7. development of tactics or plans for dealing with the situation.

After considering these factors and if the crowd threatens to get out of control the security guard may wish to contact the police.

Traffic Control and Parking

A security guard may be called upon to control traffic on private property at gated entrances to buildings or in parking lots, to ensure traffic safety and to assist in the movement of vehicles. It is important for the guard to use conventional signals and movements in order to be understood and seen by the drivers. Guards should be dressed comfortably according to weather conditions. Proper reflective vests or cuffs must be worn to ensure visibility. This control should be done in a courteous and persuasive manner, trying to make people understand the reasons for the control.

Patrolling

The main purpose of a patrol is to maintain the security of the premises under the security guard’s authority. Preparation for a patrol should always begin with an understanding regarding the purpose of the patrol. For example, is the security guard:

  • Expected to keep intruders away?
  • Assist members of the public who appear confused or in need of assistance?
  • Check boilers and other equipment, to make sure they are still functioning safely?

The purpose of a patrol can change from time to time, even within a single shift. The first time that a patrol is made, security may focus on breaches of the property by an intruder; the second time, to make sure that the safety equipment on machinery in the area is functioning properly; the third time, to check again for intruders and breaches of the work site, and so on.

A thorough knowledge of the geography of the area to be patrolled is essential. The security guard should determine in advance where telephones, water shut-off valves, electrical and alarm panels and light switches are located, and where emergency lighting is provided. The guard should also know where emergency equipment, such as back-up generators, first aid kits, fire alarms, hydrants, and extinguishers, is located. The guard should know the best routes to follow in an emergency, selecting the simplest, most direct route with the least number of safety hazards.

The guard should make a list of activities that need to be done while on a specific patrol and devise the route in advance, including a map of the major check points, passageways, rooms, stairwells, doors and windows, and so on. Alternate routes should be planned in case specific areas are made inaccessible due to an emergency such as a fire, explosion, or chemical leak. The timing and route of the patrol should be varied to ensure that it does not become too routine or too predictable. The guard should make sure he or she possesses the proper equipment, including appropriate clothing.

Foot Patrol

Foot patrol is the most common method of patrol in the security industry. It is normally utilized where it is not possible to provide the same protective coverage through other methods such as motorized patrol or electronic surveillance. Virtually all of the senses of the security guard (sight, hearing, smell, and touch) may conceivably be used during foot patrol.

Advantages:

  • Highly visible
  • Knowledge of patterns and characteristics of an area may help to anticipate an incident before it becomes more difficult to control
  • All senses may be used
  • Ability to access smaller spaces such as stairwells

Disadvantages:

  • Restricted mobility and area of coverage
  • Length of time to patrol
  • Inclement weather prevents or curtails some activities
  • Difficulty in carrying equipment such as reports, forms, and first-aid kits
  • Communication may present a problem, unless portable radio or telephone equipment is used
  • Supervision of foot patrols is difficult

Vehicle Patrol

This type of patrol normally covers areas that are too great to be covered on foot. The vehicles may be equipped with radios or mobile telephones and commonly are in constant communication with the dispatcher. Precise instructions are given about the type of patrol required. The patrols will often include parking lots, storage yards, perimeter fence lines, outer perimeters and areas that are impractical to patrol on foot.

When a vehicle is used for patrol, security guards have the added responsibility to check that the vehicle is functioning properly and will not become a hindrance before taking the vehicle for patrol.

Advantages:

  • Motor patrol is highly visible
  • Larger areas can be covered in a shorter period of time
  • Speed in responding to other areas of the site increased
  • Additional equipment may be carried
  • Protection from inclement weather – rain, snow, temperature extremes

Disadvantages:

  • The vehicle may be restricted to particular areas, such as roads or paths
  • Vision may be partially restricted inside a vehicle
  • Inclement weather may prevent or curtail some activities
  • The engine noise made by a motor vehicle may mask some noises or alert others of the presence of security
  • Sealed cabs on some vehicles may prevent the detection of some dangerous situations (for example, the potentially hazardous fumes that a guard on foot would smell might not be noticed by someone inside a vehicle)

Surveillance (Non-mobile Patrol)

Also known as visual or fixed patrols, with the assistance of technology, surveillance enables a guard to remain stationary but keep a constant watch over a specific area. For example, an entrance/exit point may be kept under continuous observation, or an entire complex could be kept under guard with the assistance of mirrors, security cameras and fences.

Advantages:

  • Access and egress (entry and exit) of the site readily controlled
  • Difficult for individuals to enter the premises and physically attack the guard
  • Guard station or highly-visible camera placement act to deter would-be perpetrators
  • Lower number of guards required to contain the area.

Disadvantages:

  • Cameras and fences may be circumvented or defeated
  • All areas cannot be kept under continuous observation – blind spots will exist despite careful planning
  • Reliance on equipment that may fail, especially in adverse weather conditions
  • Personnel must concentrate on one area for long periods of time
  • Reliance on only one sense – vision
  • Response may be restricted to calling police or internal personnel, especially if the guard is not on site but is monitoring from a different location

Drug Effects

Security guards may encounter individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They need to be aware of the signs of substance abuse as well as the impact of different drugs on human behaviour (e.g. suspect going through withdrawal) in order to deal with these individuals in a manner that will ensure personal safety as well as that of the suspect. Guards should have an overall understanding of different types of drugs and paraphernalia, the impact of using drugs on human behaviour and how to address individual behaviour depending on the type of substance.

References/Resources

Saskatchewan Justice – Corrections, Public Safety and Policing: Private Investigator and Security Guard Training Manual (2012)

  • Chapter 2 – Duties and Responsibilities of a Security Guard
  • Chapter 5 – Access Control and Alarm Systems

See Appendix B: Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) “10” codes