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The Role of Regulation

Article excerpt

Until the last decade, few security officers received adequate pre-job or on-the-job training. Regulation of the industry was, and for the most part still is, nonexistent in the United States. However, in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the security industry has been subject to various federal training recommendations and standards.

When the federal Task Force on Private Security published its findings on the U.S. security industry in 1976, it in essence substantiated an earlier Rand Corporation study of 1968, which found that private security was an open and unregulated giant. Both studies raised questions concerning the need for training of security personnel. In an article published last year, "Thugs in Uniform," Time drew additional focus to the security industry.

Although the private security task force recommended that contract security personnel complete a minimum of eight hours of formal preassignment training, as well as a basic training course of at least thirty-two hours within three months of assignment, surveys from the past ten years have found that this standard is far from being implemented. Only 50 percent of the states have any imposed training standards. Even in those cases, regulation by the states is at best limited and heterogeneous.

Most members of both the proprietary and contract service sectors value training. However, the problem in the contract service arena is compounded by competitive pressures of the marketplace. The onus for low training standards must be borne by employers whose overriding consideration in selecting a security service is often the lowest bid.

Still, most security executives know that proficiency in security is largely a product of the combination of experience and a thorough training program designed to improve the officer's skill and knowledge. The merits of training are reflected in the security officer's attitude and performance, improved morale, and increased incentive.

Since the industry has not been able to self-regulate training, The Hallcrest Report II: Private Security Trends 1970-2000 reiterates the need for mandatory minimum training standards. The original Hallcrest Report (Private Security and Police in America: The Hallcrest Report) recommended a balanced approach between preemptive state legislation and industry-imposed standards.

Great Britain. Industry-imposed standards appear to have worked in Great Britain, where more than 90 percent of the security industry is regulated through the British Security Industry Association (BSIA). The BSIA has adopted standards pertaining to personnel security, wage levels, supervision, training liability insurance, and physical facilities.

Canada. The Canadian General Standards Board is currently proposing that a national standard for unarmed security personnel be set up across the country. The board, which is composed of twenty-four individuals with backgrounds in a variety of fields, wants to create uniform standards for Canada. These standards would require a mandated forty hours of training for security officers and thirty-six hours for supervisors.

The recommended training for security officers is as follows:

* Professionalism and public relations--2 hours

* Duties and responsibilities (general)--4 hours

* Legal authority, duties, and responsibilities--6 hours

* Alarm systems and physical security controls--2 hours

* Traffic control--1 hour

* Explosive devices and bomb threats--2 hours

* Personnel and material access control devices and technology--3 hours

* Report writing, notetaking, and evidence--3 hours

* Fire detection, prevention, and safety--6 hours

* Patrol procedures--4 hours

* Labor relations--2 hours

* Relations with public law enforcement authorities--1 hour

* Administrative, instruction, and evaluation of candidates' knowledge--4 hours

Each of Canada's ten provinces currently has its own standards. …