Off-Duty Law Enforcement Security Services: The Outsourced Solution

As good as security technology is, some assignments call for human assets. Unless you work for one of the few organizations that maintains an onsite security force, finding appropriate human security assets will require outsourcing. When selecting a solution, many security directors default to guards, no matter the complexity of the assignment. As security assignments become more sensitive, guards are not always the appropriate option.

In the popular LifeLock TV commercial pictured above, a security guard, shown standing in a bank as it is being robbed, is told by a customer lying on the floor, to “do something.” The guard explains that he is not there to stop the robbery, but to “notify people if there is a robbery.” Although security guards provide a sufficient solution in many instances, as the commercial implies, they have obvious limitations.

Private security guards are appropriate for certain, low threat assignments such as manning access control guard shacks and conducting patrol “rounds” after hours at an industrial plant. When dressed in uniform, guards provide some level of deterrence. But what if their presence fails to deter the adversary? As the guard in the commercial states: “There’s a robbery.” Lacking arrest authority, training, tactics and equipment to intervene, guards facing illegal activity become “monitors.”

What about assignments involving high value asset protection or likely to result in violence or that require armed response? For these assignments, off-duty police officers are the appropriate countermeasure. Although armed private security guards are available, most companies are unable to accept the increased legal liability they bring. In fact, many U.S. corporations prohibit firearms on their premises by anyone other than active law enforcement officers.

It’s easy to see why more corporations are hiring off-duty officers for the majority of their security needs. American police officers are well-trained and experienced. In uniform, they provide an effective deterrent to criminal activity. Their knowledge of the law enables them to handle confusing security situations in which guards would need to contact the police, such as trespassing, alcohol violations, restraining orders, etc., In many locations throughout the U.S., off-duty officers are actually less expensive than guards!

As the popularity of off-duty law enforcement officers increases, their services have become more difficult to obtain. Police departments continue to add requirements and policies to displace liability, allow for executive approval, and facilitate payment to the officer. Some allow uniformed work only, others allow only plain clothes. Some allow use of police vehicles and agencies differ on the restrictions and fees required. Most require existing agreements with the hiring organization even for a single event, and these agreements can take weeks to finalize, preventing last-minute hiring of an officer.

To avoid the confusion, many security directors outsource the hiring of off-duty officers to private firms where “one call” gets the officer on site. These companies handle the insurance, agency agreements, and ensure compliance with the multitude of policies for each agency. They confirm officers are current consistent with state requirements and ensure they are onsite when expected. They conduct quality control with onsite clients to ensure they are receiving the service they need, and rate officers so that only the most effective are provided. Because these firms provide assignments for so many officers, they are able to negotiate the lowest hourly rates. As a result, the cost of off-duty officers is often lower than private guards.

Consider the role off-duty officers play in your next security assignment. The Athos Group provides active, law enforcement officers for high level security assignments throughout the U.S. www.athosgroup.com
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