If you, like me, work in a large public building you are probably familiar with the security force present in such areas. The rest of you can’t possibly have missed these rent-a-cops when shopping late at night at grocery stores in urban areas or at the last visit to a hospital.
The point of this security forces has always eluded me. After all, what are these unarmed, generally overweight, individuals going to do exactly to provide security? Obviously they will be mostly useless if someone with a gun, or really any kind of weapon shows up. Even in unarmed combat I don’t think I’d be willing to wager on their ability to diffuse the situation. So why not use well trained and presumably well paid replacement?
Obviously the first thing that came to my mind was because it is simply cheaper to have some rent-a-cop show up and pretend they are not talking to their cousin on their phone. And to the causal viewer this would seem to satisfy all groups. The customers would feel like someone is watching out for them, the business operator would be saving some dough in insurance and the criminal would in no way be dissuaded from commiting a crime.
Or so it would seem. But then one day it all clicked. Imagine security dude in the lobby sitting around waiting for his shift to end. Now imagine some psycho intent on wiping out HR with his seven day old Bradley Bill 9mm. Psycho walks in, caps security dude before he has a clue, continues on to HR where everyone is freaking out, running and hiding. Panic and drama ensue. Now let us do this again with a real cop armed in the place of rent-a-cop. Armed cop is sitting there bored as hell waiting for his shift to end when Psycho walks in, caps armed cop before he has a clue, continues on to HR where everyone is freaking out running and hiding. Panic and drama ensue. Study’s have shown that when you repeatedly check for something that isn’t there you get bored real quick and end up performing poorly when needed. Think security screeners at airports looking their whole life for that bomb or gun that will never show up. This is the same situation in most security jobs, so having someone really well trained probably isn’t going to do much good.
So then, you ask, what exactly is the point of having ANYONE in the lobby watching for psychos? After all, trained or not these security people will most likely not be of much use to anyone. You are so astute! What a fine question! Let us go back to our little scenario. Psycho walks in bang, bang. Everyone runs, chaos ensues. But let us imagine the situation with no security at all. Psychos walks in, passes through the lobby, opens the door to HR and wastes the first five people who, totally unaware, don’t have a chance. So now accounting is dead as are both the guys who cut checks. Now you have to hire a new accounting team and find some to pay you before Friday because you already have tickets to Vegas. Now if you had had that security guy there, as soon as everyone in HR heard the pop-pop of gun fire they would pretty quickly make for safety. After all, we in HR know exactly how loved we are.
That security guard is out front just to take that first bullet so that the rest of us have a chance. A chance to run, or a chance to hide or wonder what those loud bangs were. He or she is much easier to replace than a highly trained specialist in the field of, in this example, Human Resources. And if that is the case, if that is really why they are there, then of course they should be low paid. If Sally in HR is making $12 an hour, why bother putting Joe, Security Technician First Class, who is making $25 out front to take that first bullet? A highly trained security guy is going to be at least as hard to replace as a highly trained HR guy. What you want is the cheapest guard possible since he is going to get offed anyway.
An that is why rent-a-cops deserve your pity. They are the poor mans Secret Service just waiting for the day when they take that bullet for you. And they don’t even know it.