Why You Should Hire In-house Security Guards

Posted on: by Robert C Smith | No Comments

I’m sure many consultants or hired advisors can relate to the phone call I received earlier today. Although I genuinely love helping and guiding my clients, large or small, organized or not, it is always a real joy for me. However, ummm, what is the phrase… “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” 

I diligently research the topic to find the facts and provide my clients and employees with the best information possible. And for today’s call, the client had the best and most factual information from several years ago, even several months ago. But now, after an incident last night, they fear the potential lawsuit that could (and probably will) develop. Here’s the story in a nutshell.

The client is a medium-sized restaurant, bar, and club that has been open for over five years. They do good business, are popular in their city, and are profitable. They use an outside, third-party security company to provide security guard services for their property and their customers.

Last night they had a couple of male guests start to bother a couple of females whose boyfriends were at the bar ordering drinks. A lone guard approached, talked to the men, and asked them to leave the women alone, telling the men the ladies were with their boyfriends. The guard didn’t feel it was necessary to notify other guards, his manager, or the club manager. His statement at the end of the night was he didn’t think the two men would be a problem.

And, as you can expect, the two men did become a problem again. The two men started talking trash when the boyfriends returned to the table. They were cursing and even giving them the finger a few times. A bartender saw this event unfolding and decided to notify the same guard.

The same guard approached the two men and asked them to leave. The single guard lightly put his hands on one of the men’s shoulder to guide him towards the door, and right on cue, the male guest reacted and pushed the guard away. Two other guards saw their partner being pushed and immediately ran to help.

When the extra guards arrived, they immediately grabbed both men from behind. One guard used a bearhug on one male, and the other guard grabbed the other men from behind in some sort of bad headlock. The first guard that was pushed took advantage of the men being firmly secure and started punching the man that pushed him. The man was punched approximately three times. He received a large lip laceration, a chipped tooth, and a possible broken nose.

There are a few problems on multiple levels with this event. But, to me, and as I tell all my clients, if you decide to use a third-party security company, you must really and truly confirm who the guards are, what their training was, and that they completed the training. AND verify they have the training to work in an environment that includes loud music, alcohol, jealous boyfriends, testosterone, arguments, and violence.

All the guards involved last night had their California Guard Card in their wallets. However, between all three guards involved in this incident, there was a total of ZERO hours of training. Even though the company is required to ensure each guard has 40 hours of training, they had zero hours. Even though the security guard company took the contract to do the security work at a busy and popular bar/club, they had zero training to deal with this type of atmosphere or client.

The hospitality industry, the bar and club security world, are so different, and the 40 hours of mandated training to legally obtain a Security Guard licensee or Guard Card is well below the standard of care for any hospitality business. The 40 hours of training they receive never discusses alcohol, over-intoxication, fake identification, appropriate use of force, and other topics of hospitality guards.

Because hospitality security work is so different, in 2011, California enacted the Proprietary Private Security Officer (PPSO or PSO) training and licensing program. The PSO training has some baseline mandates but can include the necessary and unique topics for the operation. Topics include alcohol-related issues, underage drinking issues, bar and club liability issues, and other unique nightlife issues.

Related Topic: How to Get Your CALIFORNIA PSO License Video

My client, like so many other bars, clubs, lounges, casinos, and other hospitality venues in California, has the ability to decide what type of security guard fits their needs; the PSO Card or the Guard Card. This means choosing from generic or job-specific training. This means choosing between hiring and training their own guards or hiring a third-party company to send guards to do the work. My recommendation to clients and non-clients alike has always been to hire their own guards.

Some of the more common reasons I’ve heard are, “We don’t have to pay the workman’s compensation insurance,” or “We don’t have to pay to get them licensed and trained,” or, this is the worst reason of them all, “The security company takes all the liability

This thought process is flawed in so many ways, but I’m only going to speak of that final point; the security company has all the liability as this is SO WRONG and, for my client, can and might be so expensive.

In short, the bar or club hired the contracted security company. And in this case, when my client hired that third-party security company, they became totally responsible for what that security company does on their property. Sure, they might have their own insurance, but the club or bar owner is the ultimate decision-maker. They are the “captain of the ship,” so to speak.

This failure and everything surrounding it are all on the club or bar, in this story, my client. As the ultimate person responsible, everything falls on their shoulders regarding who they hire and what they do. And this includes if the security company they hired was untrained or used unqualified people to protect the property and guests you invited in.

This morning, I listened to my client and gave them some direction. Before our conversation was over, I told them again they needed to hire and train their own guards. They need to prepare to adjust their budget some, but know that within short order, with 100% certainty, they will see an improvement in having their own in-house guards. I gave them my word and a total money-back guarantee.

I started my company, Nightlife Security Consultants in 1998. In 2009, I was given the first PSO Trainers License in California, license number P-0001. I was the first because I was the chairperson of the committee that wrote the California training curriculum. In my 24 years of being a consultant and trainer, I have never advised any client to hire a third-party company. I give my clients the best information I can to guide and help them. In this case, my client made the wrong decision; I did what I could to “guide them to the water”. And this decision might be an expensive one and the wrong one.

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