The Notebook and Two pens... Your Ticket to Advancement
When looking at the essentials that an officer should always have, the first thing that should be in the officer's tool kit, beyond their BSIS card is a notebook and two pens.
The Primary responsibilities of any officer in security is to observe and report. The habit of writing everything down, time, date, descriptions, what occurred is fundamental. Regardless of if an officer uses electronic reporting or not, an officer should always have a notebook and two pens on their person, and should always be ready to jot quick notes on something they observe.
Notebooks, when filled, should be kept. If an officer ever has to appear in court regarding an incident, or provide C.Y.A. evidence regarding a situation on post, credibility is given to those who keep records.
Also, relying on electronic reporting means that one is also relying on the batteries in their phone... what does one do when the batteries are dead? The world does not stop for dead batteries, and neither should you. Keep reporting.
Why two pens? There is an old saying that two is one and one is none. It holds true in security. Just as an officer should have more than one handcuff key and more than one magazine for a firearm, they should have two pens, as pens can fail or be quickly lost.
The best pocket notebooks are waterproof paper with waterproof pens. They are a little expensive but a worthy investment, running at about $20 per set. However, simple dollar store spiral notebooks with two pens can be had for $2 at most bargain or dollar stores.
Two pens in the left pocket of a uniform shirt is a universally recognized symbol of professionalism in the security industry. If your commanding officer is ever giving you instructions, they expect that you will be writing them down. If you are ever responding to a complaint, the citizen will be expecting that you are writing down what they are telling you. Simply writing down information a citizen is telling you goes a long way in calming many situations, as it conveys to the citizen that you care about what they are telling you enough to transcribe it.
Flashlight... The Magic Wand of the Security Basic
Flashlights are the magic wand of security personnel for many reasons. A security officer without at least one good flashlight is like a blind dog without teeth. Officers are recommended to own and carry on them or in their daily duty bad two flashlights, regardless of if their assignment is a day post or not. Why two? because two is one and one is none. Redundancy is always smart planning.
Here is why flashlights are a magic wand for security:
- At some point, even during the day, one will need to look into a dark place
- One should ALWAYS be prepared for a power outage
- Flashlights help with traffic control duties
- A long flashlight is a defensive weapon option without having to attain an expensive permit for a baton
- Lighting up a suspect from 30 feet is safer than getting close to make something out in the dark
- A bright light from a distance with a question in firm voice sends bad guys running
- A bright light from a distance in the eyes of a bad guy makes you a difficult target
- A long heavy flashlight provides confidence to officers who work alone
A long flashlight and a short flashlight are recommended. If one does not have their baton permit, one can still carry a long flashlight so long as the flashlight is fully functional with fresh batteries and working bulb. If that flashlight is not functional, do not carry it, as is now a felony weapon if it does not function. If you have a long flashlight, always have spare batteries and a spare bulb. Good long flashlights for duty can be found on E-bay for as little as $15. Look for flashlights over 900 lumen that are rechargeable with an aircraft aluminum housing. The more lumens, the brighter the flashlight. Take some time in shopping for your flashlights. You may want to spend an extra $10 to $50 for ones that come with both a car charger and a house charger, or that come with additional rechargeable batteries.
The short light is good for a basic duty belt, and typically a little lighter. High lumen short lights will range from $10 to a few hundred. consider your investment. Quality equals longevity.
On the cheap, there is always pocket flashlights. One of these should always be in the pocket of one's jacket or tucked into an easy access shirt or pant pocket. They can be gotten for as little as a buck at a dollar store, but one gets what they pay for, and if going this route, one should buy a few for redundancy.
A pocket clip light, like the one seen pictured to the right, is also nice to have when it is time to do reports, as they can clip to one's collar leaving their hands free to write and do other actions. These two, can be gotten rather cheaply on E-bay.
Many modern flashlights come with a variety of features such as strobe lights, multiple light levels, and even an automatic SOS feature. Some have telescoping radius of light features. These are all great, however one in security should remember the following things when using a flashlight:
- Never beam a light into a residential window without good cause on patrols
- Never waive the flashlight like a light-saber as it looks unprofessional and draws attention to your location
- Never point the light into a citizen or reporting parties eyes
- Never attempt to blind a vehicle driver with the beam
- Use the flashlight with courtesy
- Do not patrol with it turned on unless you truly need the light to see the ground for safety
Part of the power of security is to be stealthy to observe situations before one acts on them. While flashlights are a great tool, they broadcast your presence once turned on. A security officer should work to strengthen their night vision, and not become dependent on a flashlight, and should blend until they need to be seen, in order to observe and report. When it comes time to deter, then the beam goes on to put the bad guy in the blinders and silhouette them. The bad guy will either run, or go dear in headlights.
For safety sake, always give a suspect room to run if you are working a post alone, and keep a distance of 21 feet or more. If a suspect runs before finishing their crime, you have done your job in deterring the act of a crime. You should now be noting all that you observed with a notebook and pen, including a full suspect description, and notifying the police.
Nitrile Gloves... Why You Should Always Have 2 Pairs Minimum
Nitrile Gloves are an essential to security officers. They provide a layer of P.P.E. that can literally save one's life and keep them healthy. They provide protection from HIV, HEP A, and just about any form of disease one can imagine that is transmitted by bodily fluid.
One should ALWAYS put on gloves before interacting in close quarters with vagrants or the homeless. One should ALWAYS put on gloves if investigating a homeless encampment or searching bags. Just a drop of blood, sweat, tears, saliva or a needle prick can have a security guard getting blood tests for months to insure they are not infected with disease. Some infections cannot be detected for months.
Gloves, dependent on the environment, also provide a visual barrier deterrent to people getting too much into one's personal space. Gloves visually indicate to many that you have the authority to search them, and that you take your job seriously.
One should always have at least two pair of nitrile gloves on them. Why? Simply because if one pair tears putting them on, one has a spare set. Two is one and one is none. Most experienced officers have a box or bag of multiple pairs in their duty bag, from which they constantly refill their belt pouch or pockets with fresh gloves. Most experienced officers have made room on their duty belt for a glove pouch.
Many officers where tactical gloves in performance of their duty, which is fine, however, nitrile is a tightly woven synthetic barrier that will block bodily fluids. Woven gloves do not actually provide the same level of protection. If one observes a seasoned police officer or customs officer, one will see that they often wear both nitrile gloves and tactical gloves over the nitrile gloves...especially if they are preparing to go hands on with a suspect.
Security Related Phone Applications
The following applications are recommended for security professionals. The majority are free downloads:
Police Scanner applications provide a couple of useful benefits to the field officer. An officer can listen in on local police traffic, and hear dispatch action near their property. The audio from a police scanner also audibly broadcasts over the phone speaker, creating the illusion that one is in contact with PD, which can at times be a useful "I am not alone" tactic. Those engaged in nefarious activity tend to scatter if they hear police dispatch traffic in their proximity.
WARNING: This type of application is a battery killer, and will quickly drain your phone.
In southern California, there will be times when an officer who does not themselves speak Spanish needs to take a report from a spanish speaking individual and ask questions. Police Spanish is an easy to use application that has a quick index of questions relative to security and police type work.
There are times when an officer does not have a radio issued to them, or is in need of radio communication with other site or event officers. Two Way is an easy to use application that gives officers an instant walkie talkie function on their phones that uses cell tower data networks rather than radio airwaves traffic. Officers input a common secure channel number with no traffic, and then can communicate much the same way as they would communicate with a Nextel communicator.
How to deal with the Homeless
Dealing with the homeless presents certain problems. The majority of the time a simple polite verbal request given respectively from a distance is enough by those in a uniform. Always issue your warnings and request from a distance AFTER observing an individual. When dealing with the homeless, one is dealing with certain unpredictable factors such as possible mental health issues, drug influences or just simply anger. Be respectful in addressing the homeless, but be firm in your directive as well.
"Sir/Mam, I'm afraid I have to ask you to move along now." Is a far better approach than initially stating "You're Trespassing/Loitering, Get the F*** out of here."
Do not engage in too much small talk however, and never get personal. Ask politely twice before intensifying your statements. Approach your request in more of the tone of "I really don't want to have to call the police." rather than "Move or I'm calling the cops."
If the person refuses to vacate the premises, wishes to argue, or is unresponsive and seemingly unstable, distance yourself, observe, and call the police. Wait until the police arrive, and then explain the situation to the police. Get an incident number and place it in your trespassing report with all other details.
Always maintain a safe distance when dealing with the homeless. Observe and report first, then deter. If the situation has any indication of being unsafe, call for police backup in efforts to remove trespassers and loiterers. There is no need to go hands on in most circumstances.
Familiarize yourself with the San Diego City homeless resources for your area. They can be found here.
Another great directory for resources for the homeless is here. Sometimes being able to offer a shelter idea is enough, as often the homeless have not resources to know what is available to them.
The Optimal Duty Bag for Every Officer
Every officer should have a duty bag, above and beyond their duty belt. The duty bag is an officer's source for "reserve" supply (Extra nitrile gloves, batteries, chargers, spare BSIS records, notebooks, spare uniform components, spare duty belt equipment, traffic control items, etc.)
A duty bag should have the smallest footprint possible, yet carry the extended components one needs to act effectively in extended circumstances. A duty bag can be a backpack or regular carry bag. A "decent" duty bag runs from $25 to $200 new or at a police supply. To get a good duty bag on the cheap, go thrift store shopping, find a heavy woven black luggage carry on-bag bag, check the zippers and pouches, and you are looking at under $10. Another $5 if you sew on a basic security patch. Occasionally, one gets lucky and finds an actual police duty bag after hitting five to ten thrift stores or surplus stores that has been gently used.
The following list is a list of items that is generally good to have, with a short explanation of why:
- A xerox copy of all permits (An officer should always have a spare set of papers handy)
- Nitrile Gloves (When one uses them, one will need more handy for self protection)
- Spare belt keepers (If one uses belt keepers, one knows that they are often lost)
- Spare handcuff keys (There is nothing more embarrassing than cuffing a suspect and having no key because you lost yours)
- Spare OC (When you use it, you will want a fresh canister for the rest of your shift)
- Spare batteries in multiple sizes (Even if one uses rechargeable, batteries fail)
- The duty jacket (Even in San Diego, the weather can snap, and you may pick up a last minute assignment for night)
- Spare pants/t-shirt/socks (Again...things happen to one's uniform in the field)
- A pair of walkie-talkies with batteries (You never know when you may go to an event where this is helpful)
- P.P.E. glasses / Sunglasses (Sunglasses should, if possible, be ANSI compliant)
- Hand sanitize gel / wipes (Stuff can be nasty in the field)
- Eye drops ( smoke, dryness, smog can irritate eyes)
- Antacid (Nothing worse than an upset stomach)
- Imodium (This or spare pants and underwear)
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen (Nothing worse than a headache_
- Gum/breath mints (Nothing worse than bad breath on an officer)
- Sun Screen / Lip Balm (Because... Sunburn)
- Deodorant (Uniforms make one smelly)
- a comb/brush (Nothing looks worse than poor grooming)
- Protein Bars / Snacks / High calorie foods (Sometimes there is no food around)
- A bottle of water (Hydrate or die...)
- A sewing kit with safety pins (When an officer button breaks or zipper fails, one finds themselves embarrassed)
- Band aids/Personal First Aid Kit (Blisters on heel, small cuts, etc.)
- Barricade Tape (Safety is an officers responsibility)
- Spare notebook and pens (These get lost often)
- zip lock bags (Evidence collection)
An officer's assignment may be consistent at a site which only has certain needs, but an officer never knows when they will be called upon to go to a different site environment. Officers who are recognized as ready and prepared for anything are typically thought of ahead of other officers for assignment.
Taking Care of Your Feet
Perhaps the most important thing to keep well maintained in the security industry is one's feet. Hours of standing and walking can take a damaging toll on your money makers. Without your feet, you cannot work. You can't stand, walk, or if need be, run. One needs to take care of their feet.
Here are a few tips and habits to get into that will make your daily life more pleasant as a security officer:
- Get properly fit duty Boots. Remember, your feet will swell through the day. Wait till the end of the day to buy shoes, as THAT is yor true shoe size if you work security. Test your boots in the store for at least 5 minutes before you buy, and be sure of the return policy.
- Be picky. Try on a couple of pairs of the same boot. Take the one pair that does not rub.
- Make sure you test boots with the socks you intend to wear. (They better be black!)
- Cushion socks are great, but make sure they breath.
- Foot powder every morning with a medicated powder. Reduces friction.
- Take spare socks to work. Change them at lunch. You will feel better at the end of the day. Your feet will smell better end of the day.
- Have callouses? Get a foot file and use it. You will feel a difference, and your feet will be prettier.
- Keep your toe nails trimmed. Walking and standing patrols means quick nail growth from the circulation it creates. This keeps socks from wearing out at the toes.
- If you spend money on one item, spend it on GOOD insoles. If you are spending less than $15 bucks on insoles, you are kinda wasting money.
- Do not stack insoles, it puts your feet at the wrong angle and kills your arch. Instead, remove old insoles and put new insoles in. The shape of the insole does a job for your arch... stack them, your feet will rub, be at a bad angle, and your arch will not be supported correctly. Guards making the mistake of stacking insoles end up at the doctors office with stress fractures.
- Pull insoles out occasionally to air out for a day.
- Once a month, save $25 dollars and get a pedicure. Male or Female, it feels great. Usually a good pedicure is done while you are in a massage chair for 30 minutes... bonus.
- Get Epson salts and a foot tub, do once a week if not more, feels great, and helps kill any bacteria from foot sweat.
- Don't walk around barefoot outdoors or take risks with your feet. Once cut on the bottom and your shift just became miserable.
- Whether or not you ever get athletes foot, rub athletes foot creme into your feet once a week. It may smell strange but it kills bacteria, keeps your foots PH in balance, and is actually very soothing.
- Wear the bottoms of pantyhose under your socks. Prevents friction. (Hiker trick)
- Find a boyfriend or girlfriend that love to rub feet.
- Always have band aids, moleskin, and spare shoe laces in your duty bag.
We hope you found these tips helpful. A security officer with a good routine for their feet has more energy at the end of the day.
Stretching... Seriously, Do This Before Shift...
We hope you have a physical stretching routine and at least a minimal daily workout regiment and 20 minutes of cardio. At the very least, stretching and basic flexibility is the difference between comfortable daily excise and being overly sore after shift. and being easily injured.
Whether you are a standing guard, a foot patrol officer, or a driving patrol officer or a desk sergeant, you feel feel better at the end of the day and sleep better at night if you spend just a few minutes a day stretching. Nano workout techniques work well in security, and are a good warm up and warm down for a home exercise routine.
It is best to stretch some
- Before you head to your shift
- Touch your toes in the shower as the hot water is on your back
- Stretch your arms to the ceiling of the shower
- Pull your elbows to your chest
- Use the wall of the shower to stretch your arms
- Just before your shift
- Flex your ankles before you exit your car
- When you get out of your car, do a few short lunge stretches
- Slow rotate your waist with your arms extended
- Roll your shoulders
- Just after your shift
- Arch backward for a long stretch
- bend at the waist and roll your arms up behind you
- Slow rotate your waist with your arms extended
- Just before bed time
- Pull your knees to your chest slowly
- Fold your knees and lay them down flat on the bed side to side
- Rotate your ankles
- Reach overhead and behind you tall or like a big yawn
Doing just a few of these will not only lead to greater flexibility, but you will be more relaxed fro sleep, more alert on post, and be far less likely to injure yourself because you are warmed up and not stiff with atrophy. It really is, in the above order, just a few minutes out of your day that will make you feel better all day.
Click here for tips on a basic daily workout.
Stretches for Police Exam
We are in the business of security to please our clients. Our clients often rely on us to keep them informed of the property condition. Maintenance issues are part of the job, as in our roving of our properties we are often the first to see changes to the property.
Graffiti and Light logging are two simple things that an officer can do to really make an impression and add value to the security protection package offered. Graffiti should always be logged when observed, and thoroughly documented with the tools we have.
At Security First, we use SilverTrac to log graffiti as a security issue. Here are some tips to up one's value as an officer by making weekly graffiti logs for a properties maintenance department:
Make a security issue for Vandalism/Graffiti in SilverTrac
Keep this issue open all shift, and add to it through the shift
Make a note on each piece of graffiti found (color needed to cover, location, what the graffiti is, whether or not gang affiliated)
Take a clear picture of the graffiti that also indicates the location
At the end of the shift, mark the issue urgent and submit the issue.
Repeat weekly, even on graffiti already reported.
Mention the report to the property or maintenance manager when you have contact.
Eventually, the property management will work to cover the graffiti, and between graffiti reporting and light reports, the crime rate will drop on the property. This is a proven fact.
Like graffiti logs, light logs are a vital reporting item for properties. Whether is is a construction site or an apartment complex or a strip mall, a darkened light is an invitation to nefarious activity and a safety risk.
Property managers and maintenance managers are very grateful to security officers that document lights that are out. Most property managers are off site most of the time. Most maintenance teams are only on site during the day, and do not see lights that are out. Here are a few tips for light reports:
Go to the dollar store and get a roll of colored painter's tape.
Walk your property on night shift and log all light posts, overhead, wall lights and safety lights that are not functioning.
Mark each light pole or fixture with a piece of the colored painters tape.
Rather than log multiple issues for lights, log a single issue with multiple notes.
Log the building, floor, and count of lights that are out. Distinguish if there are different types of bulbs/fixtures in play.
Example: "Building 4, 3rd floor, 5 overhead lights out, 3 wall lights out, all marked in blue tape by security"
Take photos of where the lack of light presents biggest safety issues (Stairs, Elevators, Exit signs, etc.)
Your light log should be a maintenance issue for lights, and should be marked urgent when completed.
Leave your light log open for an entire shift and ad to it. Close your issue at end of shift and submit as urgent.
Repeat weekly on site, and verbally communicate with property management and maintenance when you see them that you logged and marked all the lights that are out.
One will find maintenance and property management are very appreciative of your report. It is a fact that properties with less light have higher crime rates and higher instances of vandalism and graffiti.
Make an Admin Followup issue making recommendations where additional light, fencing, thorn bushes, signage etc. would make the property more secure. You may have a suggestion that the property management has never considered.
PrEP and PEP, and Why You Need to Know What These Are
Security guards who come in contact with bodily fluids run the risk of exposure to disease. As stressed repeatedly in other articles, officers should not engage physically with the vagrants or transients without having at least the minimum P.P.E. on, which is a set of Nitrile gloves.
If an officer is exposed to blood, urine, saliva or any other bodily fluid through they eyes, nose, mouth or open wound, the risk of infection from exposure goes up dramatically.
For HIV exposure, there are options:
- PrEP: Short for “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” PrEP is an HIV prevention strategy in which HIV-negative people take an oral pill once a day before coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of HIV infection. PrEP must be taken for at least 7 days to reach optimal levels of protection against HIV.
- PEP: Short for “post-exposure prophylaxis,” PEP is an HIV prevention strategy in which HIV-negative people take anti-HIV medications after coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of HIV infection. PEP must be started within 72 hours after HIV exposure.
If while in performance of your duties you become exposed in a manner that could mean infection, notify your supervisor immediately. You will need to go in for a PEP treatment and will need to test for HIV infection in 3 months after the exposure date.
If You Are Bored on Shift
Bored on shift? You should not be. If you think you are bored on shift, re-evaluate your position, and re-evaluate your duty, and specifically, what role you play in the bigger picture of the site you are working.
- Have you checked your post thoroughly?
- Have you done all the sub-tasks of your duty?
- Have you looked the site over for safety issues and made reports on lights or other maintenance issues?
- Have you documented all the graffiti on site?
- Is your time sheet up to date?
Still bored? Are you absolutely in control of your site at this moment and know everything that is happening at your site? Do you know the location of the following items?:
- Where are the fire extinguishers at?
- Where are the gas on/off valves?
- Where is the fire riser/fire control room?
- Where is the roof access?
- Have you looked on the roof?
- Have you checked every door and window?
- Do you see any obvious safety issues that might have been otherwise overlooked on site that you could report on?
Got all the above covered? Really? Ok, how about this...
- Do you have all the contact information for all of the contacts on site logged in the site phone or post orders?
- Are the post orders up to date?
- Can you update them?
- Can you make them better?
Seriously... are you so good that you have ALL of the above covered? If so, if you really have free time to be bored on site, then you may consider this...
Would a property evaluation report you write and have presented to the manager of the property have any impact on how that company perceives your effectiveness on site. Could you spend an hour between site tasks and rounds to compose a well written report that illustrates all the safety concerns and recommendations that you, a safety and security professional, are acutely aware of for the Site you know so intimately? Would it make you and your company look good to take this little bit of effort? Then Do it.
If you are bored at site, before you go and take your phone out of pocket and start making yourself look unprofessional by texting or FaceBooking or watching YouTube videos, consider all of the above, and act on it. This is security. You don't really get to be bored at your post. You are paid for the sole purpose of being awake, alert, and ready to act. If you have nothing to observe, look harder and change your perspective. If you have nothing to report, then see if there is some small thing that could be done to the environment to create additional determent and report on that. If there is nothing to deter, then start some self examination... are your permits all up top date? Is there additional training you could be doing in the slow times of your shift that do not affect your ability to effectively work your shift, etc.
Yes, we have a simple function in our security jobs, jobs that are often full of repetition and long hours, however, the creative mind should not find boredom while being on post and being a professional. The creative mind should always be looking for a way to take it all to the next level, and make it better. That is what a good officer does, above and beyond the simplicity of their post orders.