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Approach and Challenge Tips

A security guard's main goal during an incident is to gain voluntary compliance by getting individuals to do what the guard wants them to do even when they don't want to do it.


Never Use Threats, But Issue Warnings


A guard should NEVER use threats to get a person to behave. The person will soon realize that the guard has no right to threaten them. This can cause the person to increase their level of misbehavior. Instead of threats, a guard can explain to the person how their actions could lead to unwanted consequences, such as fine or breaking of the law. This is issuing a warning. For example, DO NOT say, "If you don't leave, I'm going to throw you in jail." DO say, "If you don't leave you could be found guilty of trespassing according to state law prohibiting your action." A guard should be able to state the specific action that is against the law.


In some situations where an individual is not voluntarily complying with a guard's request, the guard may need to use force. When to use force is covered in the "Arrest, Search and Seizure" and "Officer Safety" courses.


Avoid Passing the Incident on to another Guard to Handle


If a person involved in an incident keeps getting passed on to a series of security guards, they will become more difficult to deal with.

A Suggested Conflict Resolution Approach

The public is not legally obligated to listen to security guards. The public will not always want to comply with an officer's request. Hence, a security guard has to persuade the public to cooperate.

The following are suggested steps in an approach to conflict resolution that you as a security officer might take:


  1. Approach and greet the individual or group misbehaving.

  2. Formally identify yourself to the individual or group.

  3. Explain why you have you approached them and legal reasons for why their behavior is unacceptable.

  4. Listen to what the individuals have to say.

  5. Ask each individual for their official identification (if warranted).

  6. Inform them of what action you will be taking or actions you want them to take.

  7. Indicate you have finished speaking with them.

  8. Take the actions you indicated.

  9. We will now cover each step in detail.

1. Approach and Greet the Individual or Group Misbehaving


As you approach an individual or group, you should greet them in a professional and friendly manner. This warns the person or group of your approach and makes them not feel threatened by your approach. You should not shake hands, as you need to keep your distance for personal safety reasons.


2. Formal Identification to the Individual or Group


You should state your formal name and who you work for.


3. Explain Why You Have You Approached Them and the Legal Reasons for Why Their Behavior is Unacceptable


You should state why you have approached the person or group and the rule, policy, code or law that they are breaking. You need to inform the person or group of their illegal action, in case they are unaware of the illegality or violation. The individual or group will want an explanation as to why you are contacting them, especially If they don't know their actions are inappropriate.

4. Listen to What the Individuals Have to Say


This is the most important step in conflict resolution.

This is the step where a professional dialog and rapport

between you and the individual or group should develop.

This is also an opportunity for you to evaluate or determine why

the person may be misbehaving, if you are in physical danger, what

might be your best de-escalation solution, what actions you should

take next and whether you will need the assistance of the police,

medical or fire personnel, your supervisor or other employees.

When an individual or group is upset, don't jump to conclusions,

but take a time to understand their point of view.


Offer respect in order to get respect.


Use "I" phrases as verbal deflectors. "I" phrases have less confrontation than "You" phrases. For example, "I heard you say...", "I understand your point, but...," or "I appreciate your offer, but..." are more empathetic and less confrontational than "What you said is wrong," "You are lying" or "You aren't doing what I want."


5. Ask Each Individual for Their Official Identification


If you determine the situation requires that you be able to identify the individual or individuals, you should ask to see some form of official identification, such as a driver's license or employee ID. Ask politely for this information.


6. Inform Them of What Action You will be Taking or What Action You Want them to Take


You should inform the individual or group what actions you will be taking based on the conversation. This prevents the individual or group from being surprised by your actions. In some cases, it may be best to not inform them of all actions, if that would endanger your physical safety or the safety of others.

7. Indicate You Have Finished Speaking with the person or Group


You should indicate that the interview or conversation is over by saying something like, "Thanks for your cooperation. Have a good day."


8. Take the Actions You indicated


You should perform the actions you indicated. This could be as simple as walking away and filling out an Incident report. You should remain calm and professional even if your plan does not unfold the way you expected. You should keep your personal safety and of those around you as the prime consideration during an incident. In most cases, you should not try to resolve a combative incident by yourself.

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