A security officer, also called a security guard, has the job of preventing crimes against people and property. A person with this title seeks to prevent robberies, assault, vandalism, and other crimes by guarding and patrolling an assigned area or building. These individuals may be found on duty in places such as supermarkets, electronic stores, office buildings, and malls. People also see them working in factories, banks, entertainment venues, schools, parking garages, and even in cemeteries.
Typically, a security officer spends a good deal of time on his feet, patrolling an assigned area or standing guard. Some do sit behind a desk, but they may have to patrol periodically as well. Guards are typically expected to remain alert and ready to record and report any suspicious happenings. Often, they use radios and phones to communicate with other guards and police. Sometimes, they also check employee and visitor identification, bags, and packages, and they may receive deliveries as well.
A major part of this job is acting as a deterrent to crime. The idea is that this person's mere presence will make people less likely to commit criminal acts. For example, if a security guard is visible in a store, a person may be less likely to shoplift or attempt to swipe someone's wallet. Likewise, if a guard is present in a bank, people may think twice before attempting to rob it.
The presence of a security guard may even prevent physical attacks. For example, a person may be less likely to start a fight in a nightclub if he knows that someone is there to eject him. Likewise, dark parking lots and long, lonely hallways can be safer when there is someone on patrol.
Unfortunately, the presence of a security officer may not always be enough to stop a person from committing a criminal act. In such case, this person may have to step in to prevent or stop the criminal activity. For example, he may apprehend someone who has shoplifted and detain him until police arrive.
How a guard handles criminal acts and suspicious situations may depend on where he works, his training, and the policies of the company in question. Often, however, he is expected to record and report suspicious activity to police rather than stop the criminal act or catch the criminal. He may also be expected to provide a description of the perpetrator and write down details like license plate numbers. Especially in cases involving armed criminals, taking such action and waiting for police to arrive may be preferred to rushing in to apprehend a criminal at the risk of his life and possibly others in the area.
In many places, a person who wants to become a security officer needs a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate to secure a job in this field. In some places, a person in this field must be licensed, which usually involves completing a training program, passing an exam, and submitting to background and drug checks. Some employers may prefer individuals who’ve previously worked in law enforcement or served in the military, but most provide on-the-job training.