What is a Security Officer?

A security officer, also known as a security guard, is responsible for preventing crimes against property and people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Security officers seek to prevent vandalism, assault, robberies, fires and other crimes by patrolling and guarding an assigned building or area. These individuals may be found on duty in places such as malls, office buildings, apartment complexes, airports, electronics stores, supermarkets, nightclubs and government agencies. You may also seem them working in parking garages, schools, entertainment venues, banks, factories and cemeteries.

Job Duties of a Security Officer

Typically, security officers spend a great deal of time on their feet, either standing guard or patrolling an assigned area. Although some security officers may sit behind a desk such as those who monitor casinos for signs of trouble, they may also have to periodically patrol as well. Security officers are expected to be alert at all times and ready to report and record any suspicious happenings. Often, they use phones and radios to communicate with local law enforcement and other guards in the area. In some cases, they have the right to check visitor and employee packages, bags and identification, and they may receive and inspect deliveries as well.

Importance of a Security Officer

A significant portion of the role of a security officer is acting as a deterrent to crime. The notion that the presence of a security officer will make people less likely to commit a crime is the foundation of the position. For instance, if a security officer is visible and walking around a store, a consumer may be less likely to attempt to pickpocket or shoplift products. Likewise, if a security officer is present in a bank or financial institution, people may think twice before robbing it. In addition, a security officer’s presence may also prevent physical attacks. For example, an individual may be less likely to pick a fight in a nightclub if he or she knows that a security officer is there to remove him from the club. Similarly, long, lonely hallways and dimly lit parking lots are safer when someone is patrolling the area.

How Security Officers Handle Crimes

Unfortunately, security officers cannot prevent all crimes from occurring. In these cases, a security officer may be required to stop the criminal activity or prevent it from occurring further, if possible. For instance, a security officer may apprehend a shoplift and detain him or her until local police arrive. How a security officer handles suspicious situations and criminal acts depends on where he or she is employed, his or her training and the policies of the employer for whom he or she works. Often, however, security officers are expected to report and record suspicious activity to the police rather than catching the criminal or stopping the act. The security officer may be required to write down details such as license plate numbers and provide a description of the perpetrator. In cases involving armed criminals, waiting for police to arrive is typically preferred to rushing in and attempting to apprehend a criminal.

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In most places of employment, security officers must need a minimum of a high school diploma in order to secure a position. In some instances, security officers are required to be licensed, which typically involves successfully finishing a training program, passing a test and submitting to drug checks and background screenings. Although some employers may prefer a security officer who has previously served in the military or worked in law enforcement, most offer on-the-job training.