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Ethics and Personal Conduct of a Security Guard

Security guards are faced with ethical dilemmas every day. Guards are expected to make ethical decisions. In order to comprehend this vast responsibility, one must learn the theoretical background of ethics.






Ethics may be defined in many different ways by many different sources. According to Close and Meier, authors of Morality in Criminal Justice, it is the study of right and wrong. It may also involve duty, responsibility and personal character. The World Book Dictionary defines ethics to be "the study of standards of right and wrong; that part of philosophy dealing with moral conduct, duty and judgment". According to Aristotle, there are eleven virtues which lead to the "good life". These include, courage, temperance, charity, good deeds, pride, good temper, friendliness, truthfulness, wittiness, shame, and justice (Solomon, 1994).


The security officer is expected not only to make ethical decisions but to also follow a code of ethics. The Security Officer Code of Ethics in California is known as the Security Guard's Creed.


Relations with the Public


The ability of a private security company and its security officers to fulfill their duties is dependent

upon securing and maintaining public respect and approval, which includes obtaining the public's

willingness to cooperate in the task of preventing crime. The extent to which the community's respect

and trust can be secured is diminished when a member of the security company acts in an unprofessional

or unlawful manner. The personal conduct of a security officer is always under a microscope. You must

be constantly mindful of your obligations to serve your client and company efficiently and effectively. The

degree to which the community will cooperate with you is dependent upon its respect for, and confidence in you.



The Security Guard Creed


The following list is the security guard creed as defined by the CA State BSIS:


  • I will be honest and loyal.


  • I will be responsible and accountable.


  • I will have a good personal appearance and have pride in the uniform I wear.


  • I will take pride in everything I do.


  • I will maintain a can-do attitude.


  • I will never accept bribes and/or gifts.


  • I will never imply that I am a peace officer.

Appearance and Demeanor

It is important to remember that the general public sometimes thinks of security guards as police officers, due to the fact that their uniforms are not readily identifiable from a distance. As such, the security officer should maintain their appearance and demeanor to the highest level, and never mislead anyone who thinks that they are a police officer.


Usually the first thing people notice about a security guard is how they look. If they look professional people will be more likely to treat them with respect. Part of a security guard's role is to deter crime. To do this you must be easily seen. Most guards wear uniforms so they will be seen quickly and easily.


Guards who do not dress properly for their role, or who are dirty or sloppy, will not be seen to be professional. Guards with strong body odor, bad breath, or smelly clothes may be repulsive and not respected. Your uniform is a symbol of authority. A person in uniform is seen as someone who is both in control and able to take charge. If people respect you, they are likely to help you in the case of an emergency.


You will give a professional appearance if you:


  • Shower or bath daily.

  • Brush your teeth regularly.

  • Keep your hair well-groomed and clean (including hair on your face).

  • Have clean, trimmed nails.

  • Wear the proper uniform for your job.

  • Make sure your uniform is clean and pressed.

  • Make sure your shoes or boots are clean, shined, and in good condition.

  • Look after your equipment.

Your posture, the way in which you stand and sit, are also important. If you slouch a lot, you can send the message that you are tired, lazy, bored, unfit, or lack confidence. This is not a professional image. Professional guards have good posture both when they sit and stand. The stand straight, walk with purpose and give the appearance of being both relaxed and alert. They are at ease, but ready to react if necessary.

Attitude and Conduct

You may have seen security guards who do not seem to do much work or know what's going on around them. They also do not seem interested in learning new skills. These guards have a negative work attitude. The image that they give the public is that they do not take pride in themselves or their job.


Security guards who have a professional attitude are interested in their jobs and the people they meet. Guards with a positive work attitude believe that what they are doing is important. They take pride in themselves and what they do. They:


  • Try to improve themselves.

  • Keep up with changes in the industry.

  • Use what they learned in training, while they are on the job.

  • Help other employees.

  • Have energy and drive.

  • Try to find better ways to do their job and to make the workplace safer for everyone.

  • Come up with new ideas to improve the image of their company and the security industry and share them with their employer.

  • Professional guards have integrity and discipline. They also communicate well with all sorts of people.


Security Guard Integrity


Integrity is one of the most important qualities a professional security guard can have. It is an inner guideline that tells the person how to react positively to the outside world. People who have integrity are respectful, reliable, honest and principled.


When you are respectful:


  • You like yourself and treat yourself well.

  • You treat others as you treat yourself.

  • You understand that it is important to follow laws and orders.

  • You respect the property of others.


When you are reliable:


  • You can be depended on to do your duties to the best of your ability.

  • You can take control and stay calm in emergencies.

  • You are on time. You arrive and leave in time to share information with guards on other shifts.


When you are honest:


  • You tell the truth.

  • You take responsibility for your actions, instead of blaming others.

  • You can be trusted to keep information to yourself.

  • You are sincere. This means that the person that you show to others is the same as who you are inside.


When you are principled:


  • You believe in treating everyone fairly.

  • You speak out if you see someone being treated unfairly.

  • Besides integrity, professional guards also have discipline.

Discipline and Self-Control

Self-control is certainly a big part of discipline. Some people will criticize you just because you wear a uniform and represent authority. If you become angry you will make things worse. It is also important to remain calm in emergencies, as other people who may be frightened will look to you for guidance. If you are disciplined, you:





  • Show strong self-control, even when challenged.


  • Remain calm under stress.


  • Follow procedures with little or no supervision.


  • Are well-organized and carry out your duties with care.


  • Do not become involved in any gossip in your workplace, no matter how hard people try to get you involved or how you feel about it.


  • Enforce the rules and procedures at your site no matter who is involved, from the entry level employee to the president.

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