I’ve experience this enough times that I feel compelled to share my take on this particular operational risk affecting more organizations than you care to know. During the course of a security audit conducted recently I came across the picture of a model security officer displayed on the brochure of a guarding firm now providing service at the client’s site. It just so happens that one of the guards feature on this brochure had been terminated several years earlier from this same site when he confessed to me he had stolen a digital video recorder from the AV area.
The situation is just a snapshot of the dimensional risk involved in the security services business. It is no doubt an unforgiving business where firms are constantly competing with a limited talent pool. I say this because this particular security officer was well regarded before being caught red-handed, so I’m not surprised he landed at another guard service company. It does not however preclude the fact that this guarding firm now has a thief amongst their ranks. One individual who could’ve been back to his old ways, if my initial profile of his behavior, at the time I interviewed him, remains accurate.
You may ask why this person wasn’t reported to the authorities, since a criminal record would’ve precluded him from retaining a security guard license and thus becoming available for recruiting by an unsuspecting guard service firm and ultimately being placed at a vulnerable client site, ripe for the picking— judging from the automatic veil of trust endowed on these protection agents. Well at the time legal counsel advised against prosecution, citing that it was not worth the risk (read cost, fickle justice system). Such is the reality of these incidents at many private businesses. I now have the ethical responsibility to warn this guard service firm of what they could be exposed to.
This situation is akin to a sexual predator being allowed to work as a licensed physical therapist where he/she is constantly coming in close contact with patients/clients. In retrospect reporting the matter to the authorities might have been the correct course of action and reasonable decision. Doing so might’ve eliminated a loophole by creating a criminal record easily retrievable by any guard service firm during the criminal background screening. I’d also propose maintaining a blacklist of security staff found to have committed conducts unbecoming of an honest person, but I’m not sure this tactic would pass legal muster. Chances are it would run afoul of due process laws. The facts remain however that security is an exacting business and operational risks such as this must be eradicated.