Rising Demand for Security Guards, Monitoring
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Given the many school shootings and the attacks on the Pulse nightclub in Florida and a Las Vegas music festival, it should come as no surprise that security guard companies report increased demand for their services.
Master Security Inc., Girard, is seeing increased business from new companies coming into the area, reports Steve Ruggles, its director of operations. But even though demand for services is on the rise, there hasn’t been a dramatic increase because of the nature of society today, he says.
That’s different from the days following the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “We were flooded with calls,” he says.
Master Security employs 85 security officers who work in a mix of public and private sector settings in the tri-county area, he says. These include manufacturers, retailer centers, distribution sectors, office buildings, apartment complexes, nursing homes, schools and libraries.
Employees receive in-house and off-site training on the role of a security officer, how to conduct patrols, how to interact with the public and conflict resolution, Ruggles says.
“Most of security is deter and report. That’s why officers are in full uniform – that’s where the deterrent comes in – but clients also want more training to deal with situations and increase their comfort level,” he says.
Training is tailored depending on the setting where the security officer will be placed, he says. A warehouse where the officer is walking around on patrol is more laid back compared to “a very public atmosphere” such as a library or other venue that calls for greater public interaction, according to Ruggles.
“Training is going to become more prevalent and more required,” he says. “Your clients are going to want to see their security companies be more professional and have more training and be able to deal with more situations.”
Justin Hephner, director of security for National Security Consultants, Niles, sees the need for security guards increasing. In the past, the view of security is someone just watching a camera.
“Now it’s more hands-on. It can be preventive,” he says.
National Security Consultants was originally established to provide security services at the retail centers owned and operated by the Cafaro Co. It is now an affiliate of the real estate developer and provides security at a mix of properties, from factories and medical buildings to schools and churches.
Security guards are “the first line of defense” for visitors to a mall, Hephner says. “As a customer, if you walk into the mall or you walk onto one of our properties, you may not know who the property manager is but you’re going to know who the security is all the time,” he says.
The company provides guard services at more than two dozen sites in nine states. Depending on the time of year, it employs 200 to 300 guards at those sites, Hephner reports. Most of its business – 80% – is with Cafaro properties.
“Each state has its own set of regulations that we have to follow,” Hephner says. Training includes watching videos and one-on-one work with site supervisors at properties. Guards also receive multiple refresher courses throughout the year.
In addition, Hephner says, he and his team are certified “Alice” – Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate – instructors and they go to properties across the country to provide instruction in how to address active-shooter situations.
Electronic monitoring and video surveillance represent another security option for business.
Paul Guzman, president of Smart Solutions Unlimited, Poland, reports demand is high “because of recent trends and things that are going on.”
Smart Solutions installs alarm and video surveillance devices and provides monitoring among its services.
Demand for video monitoring is strong from business and residential customers, although it is slightly higher for the latter because of the “convenience factor,” Guzman says.
“Everybody has mobile devices,” he says, which can be used to connect to and view monitoring systems remotely.
Smart Solutions began offering monitoring from mobile devices 11 years ago for affluent customers, but advances in technology have made it more affordable to a broader range of customers, he says. “If you’re on vacation, you can monitor things back home.”
Rick Clautti, owner of Remco Security, Boardman, says his company employs 32 guards for “a mix of clientele” at sites throughout the tri-county area. Armed guards go through training at a police academy, while unarmed guards usually go through on-the-job training,
“They go through state background checks, drug testing and all of that necessary stuff,” Clautti says.
Clautti says he sees less demand for security guards because of the increasing use of remote monitoring of cameras from smart devices. That practice is reactive, not proactive, he says.
“The guard on site prevents things from happening,” he says. Relying on a security camera only allows someone to see what has already happened.
“They’re great,” he says. “But they need to be used in conjunction with a guard.”
Pictured above: Justin Hephner, director of security for National Security Consultants, meets with Kirk Steves at the Eastwood Mall in Niles.
Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.