As a security guard I have found working in retail security more dangerous than most nightclubs because you will encounter a wide range of criminal activities and the offenders are usually not drunk so are harder to deal with.
I was working in a small shopping centre in Sydney as a part of a clean up program to reduce the amount of crime and antisocial people in the centre. The other security guards have let the criminals walk all over them and now the gangs run the place.
Drug deals openly inside the malls
I always start a new place by going in plain clothes for a few days first to ID some of the regular troublemakers before they know I am a security guard. This way they don't run away from me. On my first day in this centre I saw large numbers of drug deals being made openly with customers walking around them. This showed me that they had no fear of the security guards here.
Sitting down nearby having a coffee I saw two security guard patrols walk past them. The guards actually lowered their eyes and moved away from a group of 15 year drug dealers who were smaller than my kids.
I gave my boss the report and prepared for my first shift. It is always harder on the first shift as the criminals are resistant to change and try to assert their dominance over the territory. With this in mind I start my first shifts on Mondays because most customers are at work and leaves me with enough room to deal with the dominance plays that will come.
Uniformed and suited up ready to go I started my first patrol around to let them all know the new security guards were in the area now and things have changed.
To reduce the conflict I give verbal warnings to all that I see that I will not accept criminal behaviour and if I catch them later in the week it will be business and arrests will happen.
Most of them will move on and go to another area to avoid being arrested again.
Patrolling the toilets
Security guards need to patrol the toilets to make sure they are clean and safe for customers to use. Not many customers ever realise that we do this for them. In some centres the disabled toilets get used for criminal offences and security needs to check these more often.
On this day I found a female using the disabled toilet to inject herself with heroin. I stood carefully nearby while I instructed her not to use the centres toilets for drug use anymore. She complied but I could see she was already affected by the drug. I walked some distance behind her to make sure she was alright as she left the centre.
I completed the rest of my long shift advising locals of the changes in security rules.
A big fella with a syringe
On Tuesday morning I was patrolling the centre when I saw a very big guy running down the mall towards me within something in his hand. He had a maori appearance and was clearly angry about me.
I quickly reviewed all yesterdays interactions but couldn't find anything thing that I had possibly done to this guy.
Self defence against a needle
I can tell you that it is not wise to try and disarm someone with a weapon unless you absolutely have to. You will end up being cut or stuck most of the time, even if you are an experienced fighter. It is the nature of fights that nothing is definite.
I started to walk backwards to gain distance and possibly draw my baton. I saw that all the customers quickly got out of the area and stood by watching the fight.
He was heavy than me and was upset so that I knew pain compliance techniques wouldn't work well. I couldn't get my baton out as he got to close and I had to grab his arm holding the syringe fast. I grabbed it and held it away from me as I was pushed backwards into a counter belonging to the deli in the mall.
No one would help
I could see no one wanted to help and I only had seconds to do something. I started talking to him while holding his hand off my chest as hard as I could. It was a stalemate and he was unable to get closer and I was hurting his wrist by using a wrist lock now.
He started yelling that I didn't have the right to tell his lady not to use drugs in this centre and I was not to approach her ever again. It suddenly become clear why he was attacking me.
I told him that it was the rules and she agreed to it so there was no further issue with me. He started to relax no that a conversation had been commenced. He let go of me as I slowly released his wrist and drew my baton in a guard position.
He walked out of the mall holding the syringe.
Customers in shock
I looked around and saw that the customers were in shock. I asked if they were okay and gave the owner of the deli bit of a glare for not helping by calling the police of something. Some of the customers couldn't believed what they had seen and that I had let him go.
I was caught in a difficult position and did not want to get a needlestick injury and risk dying just to try and arrest him. My point was made to him. I did not back down and handled myself well. He will think twice before trying that again.
In any case, I am not stupid. I have a description and car registration from the female yesterday and now have his description so I called the police and advised them to arrest him.
They have the equipment and gear to arrest him for more than just assault on me in any case.
© Copyright 2008 by Paul Baker
Information supplied by Paul Baker
Over twenty years security & risk management experience across Australia to protect corporate clients from critical incidents and security risks.
Previously served in the Military and expert in explosives, weapons, and information gathering techniques.
Achieved formal qualifications in a wide range of security risk management skills and commendations for crisis response operations
Security Manager Corcom 03 9642 0599 http://corcom.org.au/riskmanagementcourses.html