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Security Guard Act means better quality.

As the New York State Security Guard Act begins to take full effect, building and business owners employing security guards are scrambling to meet the requirements of the law to protect themselves against future liabilities. It's easy to see how this new law is thought of as troublesome by many, as it means paperwork and added costs to already tight security budgets. However, in the long run, what this new law will really do is ensure that all security guards under your employment understand what their responsibilities are.

Under the new law, any business or building owner who employs one or more persons who can be defined as a security guard, falls under the legal definition of security guard company and immediately becomes responsible for the registration, insurance and training of all guards under their employment. The training requirements are really the key components of the law, as all other requirements depend on them.

The act requires that each security guard must complete eight hours of pre-employment training and then 16 to 40 hours of on-the-job training within 90 working days of employment. This must then be followed by an annual eight-hour training review for each year a person remains registered as a state-certified security guard.

This will mean better quality protection for your residents or customers and fewer legal and financial headaches caused by untrained guards. Thievery, excessive use of force and negligence on the part of unprofessional guards cost owners small fortunes in legal settlements and fees.

When these incidents occur, its usually because the guard was hired for the lowest possible wage to simply create a presence in a lobby, hallway or store. Essentially, the Security Guard Act sets a standard for security service and protects employers from their own shortsighted policies.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services requires that each security officer, before taking the job, have at least eight hours of training. That initial training period defines the three basic security functions: Deter, Detect and Report. It also covers the following five critical areas of the job:

* Legal powers: Untrained security guards sometimes assume that they have the same powers as police officers or other law enforcement officials. They don't! Their powers of arrest and their rights to use force to make an arrest is no different than any other ordinary citizen. This does not mean that the use of physical force is always out of the question, but guards must know what constitutes excessive use of force and the consequences of such action. If your guard must make an arrest, he or she should know how to carry it out legally, effectively, and efficiently. Such basic knowledge will save owners millions in awards, settlements and legal fees.

* Emergencies: Perhaps the time when a security guard proves his or her worth the most is during emergencies. As terrorism, arson, hostage taking and other ruthless crimes become more prevalent, it becomes imperative for a guard to know how to respond quickly and effectively, alerting the proper agencies and effected persons. Most companies and buildings have already set policies or procedures for dealing with various types of emergencies. The training will stress the importance of knowing these procedures and how to set them in motion the instant an emergency occurs.

* Communications and Public Relations: Very often, the importance of your security guard as a representative of your building, or business is severely overlooked. A security guard is commonly the first person encountered by clients, customers, renters or buyers. First impressions count. Yet, quite often we encounter guards who are sloppy and uncooperative, which leads to confusion, frustration and a poor image for your company or property. The state's new required training will produce guards who can communicate basic but imperative information to the public while presenting a good image for your property or business.

* Access Control: Seemingly minor glitches in security procedures often lead to very major problems for tenants, managers and owners. The required basic training covers the various methods of effective access control, and how to avoid lapses in security which can lead to costly theft or even life threatening situations.

* Ethics and Conduct: Your security guards should be among your most trusted employees. They are given access to a wide variety of areas containing valuables and confidential records. Criminal background checks and the teaching of industry-wide ethical standards are now mandated by the SGA. Although you can not completely protect against dishonesty and negligence on the part of security or any of your employees, the Security Guard Act sets a standard and provides some protection for owners, tenants, employees and others who depend of the honesty and reliability of guards.

According to a recent study by the Engineering and Safety Service Division of the American Insurance Services Group, the risk of being sued for inadequate security has grown over the last decade. Numerous court opinions have been rendered that increasingly puts the responsibility for crime in buildings squarely on the shoulders of owners and managers. The requirements of the Security Guard Act certainly increase that responsibility, but at the same time ensures that all guards will operate with a standard level of competence and professionalism.

For many large contract security firms, standards exceeding the State's have been in operation for many years. However, for many owners who hire and operate a small proprietary force with a very tight budget, the SGA will provide necessary protection against any inclinations to cut corners and get the job done as cheaply as possible. In the past, this mistake has been costly. Now it is illegal.
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Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Property Management; New York State Security Guard Act
Author:McNicholas, James F.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 9, 1994
Previous Article:The changing face of asset management.
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