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The primary purpose of security is to prevent and deter loss. A key element in this strategy is the use of patrols conducted by security officers. Patrolling is defined as the act of moving about an area to provide protection and to conduct observation. A security guard protects property and people. As part of this duty they make periodic checks of the property referred to as patrols. During this patrol the security guard provides protection and observes anything that could be or become a safety or security concern.


Patrols have existed since security measures were first

implemented. Security Supervision states, "Patrols are

necessary to insure the integrity of the overall security

program. Frequent and total coverage of the protected

area is needed to provide the most timely discovery and

correction of security, safety and fire hazards."


Patrol Purposes


Patrol duties vary by the assigned post, but can include:


Testing and inspecting security systems and items, such as locks, alarms, surveillance cameras and monitors, lights, windows, doors, gates and fences.

Detecting unauthorized or criminal activities, such as trespassing, safety, noise parking or alcohol violations.

Deterring and preventing unauthorized or criminal activities by being a security presence.

Ensuring compliance with employer policies, including safety policies.

Reporting loss incidents or potential loss incidents, such as fires, safety violations, break-ins and blocked emergency exits.

Investigating triggered alarms.

Observing possible fire hazards, such as blocked fire exits, improper storage of flammable materials, exposed wiring, coffee pots left on and improperly operating equipment.

Preventing accidents by observing and reporting such things as leaking pipes, flooded areas and broken heating, ventilation or cooling systems.

Standing at a fixed post at a broken physical security system item until it is fixed. For example, if a lock is broken on a door, the guard, if it is feasible, will stand by the door to prevent unauthorized entry until the lock is fixed.

Responding to onsite emergencies until police or other officials arrive.

Performing customer relation duties and other services, such as directing visitors, checking ID badges and escorting visitors. These other duties and services will vary greatly depending on the business function where the guard's post is.

Fire Prevention

Patrols can be very effective in the overall role of fire prevention provided the security officer is attentive to equipment which may have been unintentionally left on by an employee. Examples would include: coffee pots, typewriters, copier equipment and certain machinery or equipment which a security officer can turn-off, provided they have received instructions to do so. Equipment such as personal computers should never be turned off by a security officer since information stored in the computer's memory may be lost if the equipment loses power.


While patrolling, a security officer should be observant to fire hazards such as the improper storage of combustible or flammable material, blocked fire exits, exposed wiring, fire extinguishers which are inoperable or inaccessible, and equipment which may be malfunctioning. It is essential that prior to any patrols, a security officer has been instructed as to what to look for when patrolling, how to determine when an abnormal situation exists, and what to do and who is to be notified to report an abnormal situation.

Theft Prevention

While patrolling, a security officer must know what doors and windows are normally open/closed, locked and unlocked. Again, if a door or window is open when it is to be closed and locked, what action should the security officer take? Do they merely close and lock the door and note the same on their shift report, or should someone be immediately notified? There are many situations when, depending upon the circumstances, the police are to be notified if a certain door or window is found unsecured.


Often while patrolling, a security officer will notice that there are several other persons in the facility. How does the security officer know that these persons are authorized to be in the facility? Do employees and visitors wear identification badges? Are certain areas restricted from access for certain employees? It is essential that prior to patrolling, a security officer obtain as much information as possible as to which employees/visitors are in the facility? When are these persons scheduled to depart? After they depart, which areas are to be secured? Once all of this information has been obtained, a security officer should not be startled to find other persons in the facility, assuming these persons are authorized. Much of this information should be known by the security officer who is going off duty.


A final part of theft prevention when patrolling will occasionally require a security officer to inspect equipment being removed from the facility. The security officer must know what material can be removed from the facility with proper paperwork and authorization. Are shipping documents, or material removal passes provided to the security officer before removal? If no paperwork is required, the security officer should note in the shift log the identity and description of the person removing the material and what material was being removed.

System Failures & Accident Prevention

Usually, a security officer conducting a patrol in an industrial or manufacturing environment should note a potential safety hazard (leaking pipe, water on the floor, etc.) virtually every time a patrol is conducted. This is due in large part to the vastness and age of many facilities. Even though potential safety hazards may have been previously reported and not corrected, a security officer cannot simply ignore the hazard and not document what has not been corrected. Security officers must be certain that a condition previously reported is known to the proper management officials, before deciding not to document the hazard again believing that, "Nothing ever gets fixed around this place!" Failure to document safety hazards may cause the security officer and their employer to be liable for damages which result from a hazard.

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