Security Managers often find themselves addressing challenges. Let’s face it, challenges are part and parcel of the job. But, few challenges compare to incidents or investigations focused on the actions of security staff members.
When a member of the security staff is suspected of workplace theft, on-the-job drug use, data breaches, or worse, it can hit a Security Manager right square in the gut.
While we can tell ourselves that our own security staff are employees who have daily challenges, temptations, and weaknesses no different from “other” company staff—it affects a Security Manager much, much differently when the subject is their own staff. The feeling of violation becomes more personal, more painful, and less easy to mentally dismiss were the subject of the investigation a member of the Maintenance or Training Departments.
If you are a Security Manager who hasn’t yet had to conduct investigations of your own staff members this article may offer some preparation for that eventuality. Security Managers who have been through this may feel some professional support in knowing they aren’t alone in this very unpleasant side of Security Management.
Here are some real-world examples of security staff involved in varied incidents. These very brief scenarios are from four different companies/facilities and involve a variety of security staff, including: IT Security Management, Security Specialists, and both Proprietary and Contract Security Officers.
Scenario #1: Drug use in the Workplace – A Security Manager with multiple facility responsibility is called by a warehouse supervisor at 8PM on a Wednesday night. The proprietary Security Officer in one of the warehouses was found smoking pot with two other warehouse employees in a secluded area of the warehouse. The Security Manager arrives at the facility and takes statements from all parties, including his own staff, while documenting the incident.
Scenario #2: Theft of Company Property – An anonymous tip leads to an investigation of a proprietary Security Officer working at temporary company facilities stocked with retail consumer goods. Third shift vehicle surveillance by the Security Manager reveals accomplices of the security officer showing up to the facility and loading the trunk of a vehicle with goods. The Security Manager apprehends the accomplice and officer in the act, with backup from local law enforcement.
Scenario #3: Sexual Harassment – An IT Security Manager is reported to have repeatedly engaged in sexual harassment of two female staff members. Investigation reveals repeated inappropriate comments, suggestions, and unwelcomed invitations made to these staff members. An interview with the IT Security Manager confirms the ongoing and inappropriate staff interactions.
Scenario #4: Theft of Staff Monies – A customer of a contract security service reports repeated amounts of petty cash missing from an office desk. Live surveillance by the contract agency Security Manager results in finding the third shift contract Security Officer stealing the funds from the desk. Immediate apprehension of the security staff member takes place at the scene.
Scenario #5: Suspicion of Alcohol use in the Workplace – Two Security Specialists are suspected of avoiding facility foot patrols to spend entire shifts in the security office, possibly using alcohol on company time. Live surveillance by the Security Manager confirms his staff has failed to perform foot patrols for an entire shift, but is inconclusive on the alcohol aspect of the investigation.
If you are a Security Manager, or aspiring Manager, attempt to see yourself in the above scenarios. How would you feel as the Manager of these security staff members? Keep in mind these are staff whom you may have hired, or mentored, and whom you trained and scheduled. They are staff who you know in a way that is more personal than other facility staff. In many cases you know their hobbies, how many kids they have, stories about hunting, sports, and more.
In all cases they are security staff who were hired or promoted to be involved in various aspects of security, including: protecting staff, securing facilities, drafting policies, and preventing theft. In most cases, rightly or wrongly, Security Managers hold their security staff to a higher standard than other facility staff. While I don’t like to compare security roles to that of law enforcement, here is an area where there is a commonality. Consider how the community reacts when news breaks of a Police Officer who is involved in selling drugs or murdering someone. There is an extra bit of outrage that someone in such a position of trust has fallen so far. The same holds true when security staff stray.