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Hiring New Security Officers


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When you bring on a new security officer, I want you to remember the following items. They will help you get and keep a professional security force.

Hiring approval. Make sure you have hiring approval authority for all officers sent to your site. If your operations manager does not allow you to have the right of refusal for any officer sent to you, then you are in the wrong security company. Upper management is notorious for passing around bad officers because they don't want to fire them. Why? They haven't done the proper paper trail and will have to pay unemployment. Feel free to call any prospective officer's previous employer or supervisor. Be wary if someone shows up at your site that is being transferred from another site. Call their previous supervisor and ask why the officer left. More times than not they will be trouble.

Have a formal OJT program. Go over all the duties thoroughly with the new officer. It takes time to learn everything at a new site so make sure all the procedures are written down. Your post orders should be detailed and specific and leave no room for misunderstandings. Make sure your new officer has your contact numbers so he or she can call you if they run into a problem. In fact you should encourage your officers to call you at any time. Allowing them to do this will save you a world of trouble and might save your job one day.

Punctuality. Tell your officers from the beginning that they have to be on time. That means to be on time for every shift every time. If an officer shows up late anytime within the first two weeks, immediately give them a written warning. I tell officers that I'm sure they are nice people but I don't have five years to get to know them. They have to perform properly from the beginning. Tardiness during the first couple of weeks is the first sign that the officer may be a problem. If this happens to you, go directly to the officer and let them know that tardiness will not be tolerated. It's been my experience that half the time the officer will straighten up and the other half of the time the officer goes down hill from there. The good thing about this technique is you put the slack officers on notice right from the beginning. A lot of managers spend three or four months begging officers to be on time before finally getting tired of it. Let me tell you something about our business. Sometimes you will hire someone who you think will work out and they don't. Paying attention to punctuality helps you quickly recognize those officers who are not going to work out. A good officer will always be on time.

Call offs. Tell the officer the only reasons accepted for not coming to work are personal illness or injury. No other reasons will be accepted. Not that their car broke down. Not that their cousin didn't give them a ride. Not any other reason except the two I mentioned. You need to set this tone of professionalism from the beginning. Many managers make the mistake of thinking that they have to be sugary nice and congenial when bringing on a new officer. Wrong. You need to be direct and tell them what you expect. Tell them that they need to be at work. End of story. You tell people this in the beginning to help weed out those who will not be able to perform to your standard. You want to set the tone that you take this job seriously and the new officer is to do the same. Call offs are the biggest headache that you will face as a security manager and being clear about how you feel about them in the beginning will help you get good officers.

Correct uniform. Tell the officer to always be in the right uniform. Be very strict in requiring your officers to wear the right uniform in the right way. This is very important. Many officers will begin to cut corners and you must nip this in the bud. Some things to look for. Wearing the wrong shoes. Wearing white socks. Leaving off their badges or other uniform items. Don't let any officer wear an incomplete uniform at your site.

Mentor the officers. Teach your officers the things that are not generally known. Like why we wear a uniform, how to answer the phone, how to interact with tenants. Many officers are not aware of these things. Learning these skills will uplift their own awareness of themselves. Check some of my other articles for ideas about these particular areas.

Officer Mistakes. Officers will make mistakes from time to time. You don't want to jump down their throat when they do something wrong. Our profession has so many things that can happen, it's hard for a person to know exactly what to do every time. That's why you are the manager. You are supposed to have enough experience to handle all situations. Kindly help officers over their rough spots. If they come to work on time, don't call off, and try to do a good job, then this is an indication that they might be worth keeping around.

Key officer responsibilities. Some responsibilities have to be done correctly from the beginning however. This includes things like key control, access control, and property removal. See some of my other articles to find out what some of these non-negotiable responsibilities are.

Managing officers is an ongoing process. Simply remember to be fair and clear in your directions at all times. Then keep the good officers and get rid of the bad ones.

David is the founder of Oates Security, LLC in Atlanta, GA and is retired from the military after serving 20 years in counter intelligence. He has a Master's Degree from the University of Oklahoma and is proficient in Chinese, German, and Czech. He also worked closely with the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Organization on various projects. You can reach him at or visit his website at

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