The Silvertrac Extra: A Blog & Podcast for the Security Guard Industry

4 Security Guard Tips From An Experienced Patrol Officer

Dec 14, 2015 10:50:51 AM / by Robert D. Sollars

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Starting out as an officer standing post in the snow, rain, mud, and, I know what it’s like out there. I’ve learned all about the little problems that can make officers miserable. I had some “old timers” help me out when I first started, so now I want to pass on some of that advice to younger officers today. These are some of the tips that I’ve learned in my more than 32 years in the field.

1) Staying Awake

For me, it’s always been hard to stay awake on the graveyard shift. You’re body’s on a weird schedule, it’s late, and often there’s not much to do besides make your rounds. So how do you stay awake when your eyelids start to droop and your head starts bobbing down to your chest? There are some common sense tips you can follow like eating right, getting a good sleep schedule, and exercising, but sometimes even all that doesn’t work.

One tip I’ve used hundreds of times is to take just a pinch of coffee grounds and put it between your cheek and lower gum, like chewing tobacco. The caffeine will get into your system about 5 to 10 minutes faster than if you drink a cup of coffee. If you’re not used to drinking coffee or caffeine, it might be nasty and bitter, but it works.

Related Article: How to Survive the Graveyard Shift

2) Dealing With Frozen Locks 

If you live in a cold weather state and encounter ice, snow, and bitter cold during your patrols, what do you do if you come across a frozen lock? It can be extremely frustrating when you are outside, your fingers and hands are numb, and the lock is frozen shut.

You should always carry a lighter or matches and a piece of newspaper with you on patrol. Just stuff a bit of newspaper in the lock, light it, and the snow or ice should melt away pretty quickly.

3) Checking Doors 

Do you know how to properly check a door when you’re on patrol? Just remember the three words, feel, push, and pull. 

When you approach a door, put your palm on it. Feel for any unusual hit. If the door is hotter than the rest of the facility, that could be a sign of a fire on the other side. Know what’s on the other side of the door and how warm it should be so you can quickly feel if something’s wrong.

Secondly, push and pull the door as you turn the knob, even if you know which way the door is supposed to open. Sometimes, a new door will be installed that opens in the opposite direction from the original. Or maybe you’re just tired and forgot which way it opens. Everyone has a brainfart now and then No matter what, using the push/pull method will ensure that the door is properly secured.

4) Be Paranoid

This last tip may make your supervisors cringe, but it is time proven and well worth any possible headaches it causes. Be paranoid, or as some call it hyper vigilant, while on duty. That doesn’t mean panic every time something goes bump in the warehouse at 0200, or be so scared that you freeze up on patrol. It just means that you don’t overlook any potential threat.

Don’t let unusual noises or incidents go uninvestigated, unreported, or ignored while you are on duty. If you hear noises at 0300, or 1500 for that matter, that shouldn’t be there, you need to investigate to ensure the safety and security of the facility. 

Thieves can get into your facility and sound like rats or construction work. If you check it out, the worst-case scenario is that it is just a rat and you lose a little time. The best case scenario is that you stop a crime and save your client thousands of dollars. This is especially true if you work in a warehouse that houses high value material or products. 

Several businesses have been robbed blind because the burglaries have come in through an unprotected wall or roof, and neighboring businesses and employees just thought it was construction. If in any doubt, call the police or your supervisor.

Bonus: Keep Learning

These secrets might seem a little bit kooky to some people, but learning from those with experience can save you some big headaches in the field. Ask any experienced security officers that you work with for their advice, and don’t be afraid to come up with your own tips and tricks based on your experiences.

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Topics: Mobile Patrols, Security Guard Tips, Security Guard Management

Robert D. Sollars

Written by Robert D. Sollars

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field and 24 studying, writing, & speaking about workplace violence. He has more than 150 media appearances including articles and interviews with television, radio, and newspapers. He started his career as a security officer with a national security company in 1983 and despite being blind, since 2003, he has continued to write and speak about important issues in security to save lives and protect property.

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