Fake Security Guards: Why We Need to Shape Up

From FOX59 reporter Alexis McAdams on 07-27-2015 (emphasis added):

EXCLUSIVE: Shopper held at gunpoint by fake security guard on Indy’s Northside

Indianapolis, Indiana (July 26, 2015) – “He said move over to the passenger seat or I will kill you,” says the victim who asked to be unidentified.

Those are the terrifying words a 30 year-old Indianapolis mother heard before she and her six month old baby girl were nearly kidnapped Saturday morning.

The woman who asked FOX59 to hide her identity says a White male in his upper fifties was sitting in a Blue PT Cruiser in the Walmart parking lot on Keystone watching her unload her groceries before he pulled out a gun and tried to hijack her mini van while her daughter was in the back seat.

According to the victim, the man was wearing a Blue security guard uniform and armed with a Chrome handgun when he pulled open her car door and tried to force himself into her minivan, repeatedly threatening her life.

“There was something very disturbing about him,” she says.

The single mother says the suspect watched her from his sideview mirror until she got inside of her car and believes he did not want her belongings.

“He could have demanded money or anything he wanted and he didn’t. He was just pushing me into the car,” says the victim.

She finally saw a man getting into his truck and noticed a Walmart employee walking nearby and knew that was her chance to get help.

“I just took my chance and I screamed help and I pushed him,” she says.

The suspect fled the scene in his Blue PT Cruiser. If you have any information on the incident call IMPD or Crime Stoppers.

Last I checked, there are approximately eight private security personnel in the United States for every sworn police officer.

For as long as I can recall, the standards security personnel are held to have always been far too lax.  There are far too many causes to list, but examples include a lack of unified training, fly-by-night agencies, low wages, and general personnel incompetence stemming from some combination of all of these.

Consequently, the general public has a very low opinion, and therefore expectation, of most security personnel.  This is exacerbated by popular media lambasting our industry with films such as the Paul Blart: Mall Cop films and other stereotypical depictions (as hilarious as they sometimes are).

These stereotypes are damaging to actual security professionals by creating tactical hazards for us.  Suspects are more likely to be non-compliant or combative because their preconceptions of weak and/or incompetent security negates any deterrent effect our presence is supposed to have on them.  It traps us on the lower end of the payscale because employers and contracts don’t see any additional worth in us.

But most of all, when criminals pose as us (as in the case cited above), it doesn’t set off any alarm bells.

The victim in the above article “says the suspect watched her from his sideview mirror until she got inside of her car,” but doesn’t stop to question the following before dismissing her concerns:

  • Why is he in a non-patrol vehicle, but in a (non-police) uniform?
  • Is his uniform that of the security personnel for the property I’m at?
  • If not, why is he here and what is he doing?
  • (If visible) Why is he armed with a silver (possibly non-duty approved) weapon?

Although it isn’t mentioned in the article, the video above shows an interview with the victim in which she even states “It’s kind of one of those things … you know, you get that feeling … the hair on the back of your neck rises, and you have goosebumps.”  But because her expectations of security personnel may not have been as high as it should have been, she ignored all the warning signs she felt, perhaps because she didn’t expect much better than what she was seeing.

If security personnel were held to a higher standard, the victim might have realized something was amiss at these signs.  She might have maintained visual of the suspect and observed his approach early enough to take evasive action.

But no, shady security companies often allow patrol vehicles to remain a standard, sometimes dangerously-civilian appearance and let their personnel carry any firearm they wish without regulation.

As security professionals, it is our responsibility to the public to take up that slack, to change the public perception of our industry and show them that we can and do operate at a high level of competence.

So to those security guards sleeping on duty with your shirt untucked and unauthorized sneakers unlaced, get it together.  Owners of security agencies that only staff mooks in the crappiest cars you can find, get it together.  You guys are the reason why the public takes private security as a joke.

Until we all improve, we will all suffer.

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