Security guards; on their path to superheroes

Today, I would like to take us away from big issues of urbanisation and housing, to small day-to-day experiences, which build or break our motivation to build the nation, on a light note.

Today, I would like to take us away from big issues of urbanisation and housing, to small day-to-day experiences, which build or break our motivation to build the nation, on a light note.

I want to talk about security guards, an indeed special group of fearless men and women that have devoted themselves to protect us and our assets from risk; to ensure we feel safe at our work places as well as ensure that we sleep peacefully at night. Don’t they make life a lot easier?

These men and women have a way to courteously say a greeting to us; Mmmh from polite Hi’s, to kind questions like… I haven’t seen you in a while, how is your morning, did you enjoy your lunch, today you look smart, etc.

I mean, you may have heard of the famous story where a security guard saved the life of a company’s employee by getting concerned for not having seen her for a day as was the routine and actually going to physically search in their work station only to find her at risk and rescue her.

I salute security guards. They are heroes but on their path to superheroes they do face challenges. Although they aim for a noble functionality of their duty, they are human and, like us all, commit errors, which may be as big as costing lives or just small errors that annoy a couple of people and just spoil a day.

I will focus on the small small things today, to start a checklist of regulations that I expect other readers will add their opinions to, then the end list can be recommended to security companies.

Continuous training

The world and its technology are changing at a rapid pace and we have to ensure that our security guards keep up with that. New techniques are evolving every day. We have to ensure that our security guards learn to make full and correct use of these technologies to protect and safeguard their customers with maximum efficiency.

Don’t take your imagines far o IT and smart technologies; it starts with simple things like motor vehicle inspection. Lately, in many work places, security guards are required to inspect our cars including the bonnets.

My experience has been that only few and on rare occasions will manage successfully to inspect a car and lock doors appropriately and when they actually close it well, its normally trough an unnecessarily forceful bang that is more annoying.

Every so often I have had to drive off with the door alarm light on and I will try to close it myself a few metres away. Failure to learn the new skills and trends hinders their progress in their everyday work and repeat common mistakes that can otherwise be easily avoided.

Security guards need a list of do’s and don’ts in their inspection of cars, especially with women drivers, otherwise the guys with no bad intention may just have to bear with the rants.

My wish and I’m sure that of many other women is that only female security guards get access to inspect personal bags of female drivers, as they do to pedestrians. Unfortunately, there are not so many female security guards and the men at the gates insist they must do their job. This can ruin a good day.

Observe basic hygiene

Whether they like it or not, hygiene has to be viewed as part and parcel of their job. Just as they are expected to assess and make good judgment of security situation at work places and make calls if there is an issue, determine the level of threat and take appropriate action, on this they really need to pull up their socks.

My observation has been even when they are provided with uniform, they are hesitant to keep them clean, neat and tidy. Hygiene may go as deep as their personal sanitary hygiene; basically taking shower and ensuring oral hygiene on a daily basis.

I personally have put imaginary labels on recurring cases of bad ordour and it’s from very active guys who want to stretch arms to inspect internal pockets under seats. In some places, that I won’t mention, I have been confronted with hard choices; to take the longer route than pass through a gate with my guys or to bear with it if I were already late for a meeting or if the gate was only one! This can ruin a day.

Security is neither personal nor routine

If the understanding of the scope of a security service is understood in the same way by us all, security guards ought to constantly inspect users and visitors altogether. I think the basic rule is that everyone can be a security risk to everyone.

For commercial buildings and government institutions, we have all experienced the tendency of security guards to be relaxed on users or frequent visitors to the place.

Well, from own experience, when ladies also shout why male security guards opened their handbag, they also promise not to open it again. Which can be wrong judgment or recurring errors. The fact that I work in an area or frequently visit does not mean that I signed a contract to be of zero risk to that place.

On another level, out of very small personal misunderstandings, these guys tend to blow minor situations out of proportion, causing panic and spreading fear. Small errors are like packing in the wrong spot, insisting on one’s rights, carrying out equipment out of a gate even for formal and correct use in institutions, etc. Though they mean well, this could lead to unnecessary stress that could ruin a day.

I believe that these and your additions will be an instrumental injection of ideas and recommendations to security companies that train our security guards, so that we can help them rise from heroes to superheroes.

The writer is a lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Rwanda, an architect and urban designer with keen interest on the dialectical relations between Architecture and Society.

The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.