Anonymous 4m 569 #security
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Unless you haven’t left home in the last 30 years, chances are that you’ve seen an Event Security Officer at some concert, sport, conference, trade-show, etc. The bright yellow jackets are hard to miss; that’s the point. You’ll find us at almost any large organized gathering of people. We’re typically hired to do two things: roam the venue, and guard the entrance. Roaming is great for everyone involved; I get to passively enjoy the event, the client has their peace of mind, and you…actually, you get nothing out of it.
I’ll tell myself that I’m looking out for your well-being. I’m there to serve you within my scope of practice: usually to give directions, be a walking suggestion box, or (hopefully) address more immediate concerns. I’ll point out hazards I’m aware of, that you might not be. Before I get to work, I tell myself that I want you to not have an awful day.
There’s a catch to accomplishing this… I have to protect you from the other guards.
Our post orders are frighteningly simplistic: “Don’t allow people to do X”, “Don’t allow people to have Y”. The guards that are compensated with the best posts, hours, jobs, promotions, and networking; are the ones that are out to catch you criminals. If you have chronic pain and need to sit down; they won’t care. If no outside food is allowed, you’re an athlete, and the food being sold isn’t nutritious; they won’t care. A negligent event organizer, security supervisors with tunnel vision, and metaphorically trigger happy security guards all aggregate to your getting harassed just for attending.
I started writing this confession in my head on a rainy day a couple of months ago. I was assigned to bag checks for a martial arts tournament. Only the one door was open so people had to come in single-file. For the first couple of hours, only the players, their families, and officials were coming in. I didn’t see the harm in not checking their bags, and especially couldn’t justify creating a queue of people standing in the rain.
I probably let 200 people through before my supervisor noticed and asked me, “What if someone had a gun?” She said unironically before checking a 50 year old lady’s clutch. I stopped over 1000 people after that, and found exactly zero knives, guns, or bombs. I did, however, manage to startle an 8 year old boy when he got passed me before I could check his bag. He slipped on the wet floor and walked away with a limp.
Hopefully that didn’t hinder his performance, but at least he didn’t have a gun, right? I also got an elderly couple to lose each other when I stopped the wife to check her bag. She didn’t have a gun, either. She didn’t speak English, but lucked out that I’m a security guard that happens to speak three languages, including hers.
As far as private security is concerned, if one person has the potential to be a terrorist, then everyone has the potential to be a terrorist. As a front-end security guard, I’m limited in how much I can protect you from reckless paranoia. The supervisor in charge of me is my boss because they often don’t second guess the absurdity. The company we work for is only interested in making a buck off the client. The client just wants their event to get through the day.