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The Key Role of Private Security Officers

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Matthew Porcelli
Matthew Porcelli
Matthew Porcelli, MSc, CPP, CPOI, F.ISRM, FSyl , is a Safety/Security Management Specialist with over two decades of experience in the criminal justice and private security sector working with clients from international airlines to corporate global headquarters, and alongside municipal, state, and federal law enforcement partners. Porcelli is a globally recognized volunteer thought leader, author, presenter, and featured in many global security periodicals.

Over the course of their assignments, private security officers are not averse to coming across multiple types of employees, guests, or contracted employees. Depending on the size of the organization housed in one or several fixed assets and the global footprint that the organization occupies, board members, high-end clients, and C-Suite members are bound to enter a lobby adorned not only with contemporary furniture indicative of the ownership but also security officers on post at concierge desks, patrolling the lobbies, conducting perimeter patrols, and assisting guests through turnstiles, to name a few. 

Unbeknownst to these frontline guardians, they are playing a key role in close-quarter protection. This protection includes not only external threats but also certain internal threats created by something as benign as negligence. 

External Threats 

Given the diversity of exposure of principals and posts contracted to private security providers, external threats to principals vary exponentially. Threats can be general such as criminal activity with a window of opportunity to strike, (i.e. – wallet/purse left easily accessible), or specific, an improvised explosive device (IED), placed during the morning rush or when certain principals are on site. 

Frontline security officers are assigned strategically to certain entry/egress locations as a deterrent variable against nefarious behavior. Furthermore, the presence of uniformed security personnel psychologically can dissuade aggressors from conducting criminal or terroristic activities. 

However, private security personnel are only as effective as the communication and intelligence they are provided. It is imperative that security personnel leadership practice clear and concise communication with their client(s) so that security officers are better equipped to protect. 

Internal Threats 

When discussing internal threats to principals, often the term insider threats pops up. This is indeed true and at times even more dangerous than external threat aggressors because insider threat aggressors have more information accessible to use to their advantage, frontline security officers, especially in a posted atmosphere, are more likely to come across unbeknownst negligence accidentally committed by the principals or their guests. 

One of the most common items that are attributed to these negligent, internal, vulnerabilities is luggage. So much information is already fortuitously shared in common areas due to loud talking; moreover, aggressors can learn a lot from unattended luggage. 

In addition to displaying a very dangerous setting and causing unwarranted alarms, many principals will go as far as to affix their business cards to their luggage or insert them into their luggage display window. This, in turn, makes the principal’s information more vulnerable.  

Proactive Planning and Response 

Security officers are often misjudged as reactive rather than proactive.  On the contrary, security officers are deterrent layers in the overall security framework that protects not only the principals but also the property he/she/they inhabit. 

When luggage is left unattended or identification is left too obvious on a suitcase, there needs to be more critical thinking and reasoning behind why certain items cannot be left unattended.

Principals, or their representatives, might say that they might have left their luggage in the lobby to get a cup of coffee or had been confused about where to put their suitcases. 

Most of the latter miscommunications can be alleviated by prior briefs with the contract security manager, client, and host company where applicable.  Proactive planning and response will not only allow the principal to experience a secure visit but also a pleasurable one. 

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