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Security officers need an established set of policies and procedures to guide them in their actions. This set of procedures should be on every established post for reference and should be required reading. These protocols are delivered in training and acknowledged by the officer. Deviation from these established protocols opens the door to liability and litigation for everyone involved.
The significance of established protocols in place for security officers is paramount. Without a set policy for the officers to fall back upon, this allows too much room for officers to "make it up as they go along”--often in ignorance of local laws and mandates or best practices designed to limit liability.
Types of Protocols
Three types of protocols are in place for security officers: policy and procedure manuals, post orders and pass-down logs. Each of these protocols address different levels of the organization cascading down from the entire company, down to the individual site and finally to the specific posts on each site.
Overall Policy And Procedures
The parent of the security officer’s protocols is the policy and procedure manual. This manual outlines basic expectations and guidelines for the security officers that are company-wide. It is prepared from best practices and typically reviewed by a human resources team or company as well as an employment law expert. This manual is introduced in training, its tenets explained in simple terms and its contents acknowledged and tracked.
When the security officer reaches his job site he encounters a very specific post that requires very specific protocols. The method addressed with accountability is through the post order concept. These written orders, properly implemented and reviewed by the management element, outline exactly the “what, when, where and how” the post is manned with as little ambiguity as possible. When assuming the post for the first time the security officer needs to read the orders and check for modifications to make sure he is in accordance with orders.
The pass-down log is an important protocol where the most current "real time" information is kept. It is something of a catch-all for any issue that is relevant to an incoming officer that isn’t covered in the generic policy and procedures manual, or specific post orders. For example, if the post is notified that “the red cement truck with license plate 12345 is to be allowed in with a pass on Tuesday only,” this information is recorded in the pass-down log. This allows the post orders to be momentarily modified for this exception.
Length of Protocols
Protocol for security officers, whether they are in the form of post orders or policies and procedures, need to be of sufficient length and depth to provide broad guidance for most scenarios. Care however is used to avoid creating documents that are unnecessarily long and over specific. Protocols that are too unwieldy or even contradictory risk confusing officers who often find themselves far removed from those who wrote the orders.
Christopher Eger has been a student of military history and hoplologist for more than 20 years. Since 2005, Eger has authored more than 200 published articles of interest that have appeared in the journals England Expects and Strike Fast. He also publishes with Suite 101, History Times and The Dark Paladin. He has a B.A. from the University of South Alabama.