Frontline workers in the security industry are occasionally faced with situations where the correct course of action is unclear. This might require a decision to be made, which could affect the safety of others. As a result, these situations can have tremendous pressure associated with them.
PalAmerican Security recommends our people follow a three-step process when making critical decisions. This process involves asking yourself three important questions.
1. What is my goal?
The first question might seem obvious. However, asking yourself what your goal in a situation is, will have a tremendous impact on the resolution of a crisis. If you are clear on what you are trying to accomplish during an incident, you will be better equipped to stay focused on the things you can do. This will have real value in bringing the situation to a successful end.
In almost all situations, a security officer’s goal is to enforce the policies of clients and the core values of PalAmerican Security. For example, if you discover an employer in your workplace is stealing from the client, your goal would be to ensure the employer is held accountable for their actions. At the same time, you also do not want to jeopardize the reputation of PalAmerican Security or the client.
Your goal may also shift as the situation evolves. Therefore, preparing to re-evaluate as new information becomes available is critically important. By identifying your goal or desired outcome first, you will find it easier to select a course of action and ensure the client assets are protected.
2. If I choose a certain course of action, what unintended consequences might I face?
While every course of action will carry some risk of an unintended outcome, you must carefully consider all your options. It is also important to choose the option with the most justifiable risk. If we do not pause for a moment and ask ourselves this question, we risk charging into a disastrous situation. You can avoid undesirable results by carefully considering your response.
For example, it is important to review your options when removing an undesirable individual from a site. At first, you may become frustrated with the individual’s actions and start to personalize their actions toward you. This is when it is important to ask yourself: “What might go wrong if I do not handle this properly?”.
In today’s social media world, there is always a chance someone will be filming your response and distribute it to media outlets. The aggressor you are dealing with may also be carrying a weapon or have friends nearby. The situation could escalate very quickly, and you could find yourself past the point of no return in mere seconds.
You need to consider these possibilities when planning a response. You may also need to change your plan to address the possibility of an unintended consequence. Acting with integrity and trusting your training means your actions will always withstand external scrutiny and be consistent with both PalAmerican and client values.
3. How would I feel if my actions were reviewed by my family, employer, or the courts?
If you would not feel comfortable defending your actions in a court of law, this is a very good indicator that you need to review your plan. As importantly, can you support the actions you take as supportive of the culture and expectations of your client and your employer.
In the age of iPhones and CCTV cameras, you should operate under the assumption that everything you do is being recorded on video and may be used against you if your actions are inappropriate. If you would not feel comfortable defending your actions in court, or explaining your actions to your client, you should go back to step one of this process and re-assess your goal.
Finally, remember you have a supervisor on duty 24 hours a day. If you are dealing with a critical incident and you have time to consult with a supervisor, you are required to do so. If you are acting in good faith under the instructions of your employer, this can mitigate allegations of misconduct. But a focus on customer service, sound decision-making and following your training will be keys to success.
This information was compiled from a series of interviews with retired Vancouver Police Inspector John McKay, a use of force instructor and ethics trainer.
Are you interested in being trained to make smart on-the-spot decisions and take fast, effective action? We are currently hiring for a variety of positions across the United States. Apply today!