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External Patrols

A guard who patrols using a car, truck, bike, moped, Segway, horse or golf cart is

on mobile patrol. A mobile guard usually does not remain on the premises, but

rather drives through it and goes onto the next property on their patrol route. A

mobile patrol guard can cover a larger area, has quick access to emergency

equipment in their vehicle and patrols takes less time. Bikes and Segways

can go places cars can't.


Mobile guards can be more cost effective even when considering the purchase and maintenance cost of the vehicles because guards do not spend much time at each property on their patrol route. Mobile patrols may also supplement foot patrols. Highly visible mobile patrol is well-suited for commercial properties after business hours or private property not open to the public.


Mobile security patrols are good for interrupting crimes in progress, but not catching the criminal because the mobile patrol is highly visible and, therefore, it is not possible for a guard to sneak up on a criminal. Being highly visible with light-bars and spotlights is to deter crime and protect the guard's safety.


Random mobile patrols are less effective on commercial premises, such as malls, while these premises are open to the public. Random mobile patrols do not give the security guard enough time to observe loiterers or know who are customers and who are criminals.


People can easily confuse a marked security guard patrol car for a police vehicle. This can cause suspects to react in a more hostile manner.


Licenses, Insurance & Vehicle Logs


A guard should be licensed and insured to drive vehicles that require licenses and insurance. A guard should never lie about being properly licensed and insured to drive vehicles.


A guard should also fill out a vehicle log, if required by their employer. The vehicle log helps ensure that vehicles are properly maintained for safety reasons. A guard should always obey all traffic regulations and drive in a safe manner.

Mobile Patrol Techniques


The following are mobile patrol techniques a guard can use to help keep themselves safe while on patrol:


  • A guard should leave the window partially open and keep the radio volume low enough, so that they can hear sounds that might indicate trouble or someone asking for assistance.

  • A guard should roll up all windows and lock the doors of their patrol vehicle when they are not in the vehicle.

  • A guard should put the vehicle keys on their utility belt, so they have quick access to them should they need to seek safety in the vehicle quickly.

  • A guard should not walk on foot too far from their vehicle. One hundred feet is a good maximum distance to be from their vehicle. They should be able to return to their vehicle quickly in case of an emergency.

  • A guard should observe the building, complex or area they will be driving into or walking into from across the street or down the street to see if it is safe to proceed.

  • A guard should patrol at less than 20 mph.

  • A guard should search an area with a spotlight before walking into the area.

  • Once on foot, the guard should follow the same safety techniques as for foot patrol.

  • A guard should never allow anyone to ride along while on patrol. These ride-alongs distract the guard, present a safety risk and prevent the guard from doing their job properly.

  • A guard should not think of their patrol as routine. If it becomes routine and they get bored, they are not paying attention and put their safety at risk.

  • A guard should know the locations of police, fire departments and hospitals on or near their patrol route.


External Patrols


"External patrol covers the grounds, parking areas and streets surrounding the facility. The basic purpose of the external patrol is to protect vehicles and persons entering or leaving the grounds, to provide surveillance of persons attempting to use unauthorized exits, to prevent the carrying of unauthorized property from the facility, and to prohibit or discourage unwanted persons from entering the facility."


A security officer conducting an external patrol will greatly enhance the overall level of protection provided to a facility. By constantly observing and noting any changes or discrepancies with doors, windows, lights, etc., a security officer can determine unusual situations, which if reported can be properly investigated.


Vehicle Patrols


Vehicle patrols can support external patrols either by supplementing foot patrols or in place of them. A prerequisite for each security officer, prior to operating a motorized vehicle, is to possess the necessary state driver's license. Additionally, some security personnel may be required to show proof of insurability prior to their operation of a vehicle.


A vehicle offers a security officer mobility while providing protection from the elements. Additionally, a vehicle permits a security officer to carry more equipment which can be readily used when needed.


Security vehicles are of all types, shapes, and sizes. Some are battery powered while many are automobiles, trucks, or vans which are utilized as the security department vehicle. No matter what type of vehicle is used, appropriate maintenance and care must be given the vehicle to insure it is functional when needed. Daily and shift vehicle logs should be utilized to document levels of fuel, oil, water, tire pressure, etc. Mileage has to be documented and verified according to IRS regulations. If any problems develop with the security vehicle, they should immediately be noted in the vehicle log. All damage to a security vehicle must be noted immediately. Unfortunately, since several persons usually drive a security vehicle, wear and tear of the vehicle is often accelerated. Some security managers restrict driving of a vehicle to only two or three persons.

Bicycle Patrols


Recently, many security departments, especially those that serve a multi-facility or campus-type setting such as colleges and universities, have incorporated the use of bicycles as part of their vehicle patrols. The advantages of a bicycle include dramatically reduced maintenance costs as well as the fact that the purchase of a bicycle is a fraction of any other type of motorized vehicle. Additionally, many individuals who utilize bicycles enjoy the physical exercise which occurs when conducting patrols. Disadvantages of bicycles include their restricted use during inclement weather and during hours of darkness. Some resistance toward required bicycle use may also exist initially but this resistance is usually for only a short time. Industrial-type tricycles have become popular with many departments since they are usually easier to operate.


No matter what type of vehicle is used when conducting external patrols, the purpose is the same - Observation. A security officer must put forth an effort while patrolling that increases the likelihood that, if something abnormal or unusual were to occur on the exterior of the facility, the event would be noticed. Far too often, external patrols become very routine, tedious and boring. The security officer finds themselves daydreaming, listening to the vehicle radio, smoking a cigarette and/or, in general, just waiting for time to pass. Usually it is during these times that an unexpected event occurs in the parking lot and the security department is then reacting to the event rather than actually preventing or deterring an incident.


While conducting an exterior patrol, security personnel must be aware of the normal routine and behavior of all individuals who enter and exit the facility. A security officer must know that the behavior of an observed individual appears normal (i.e. when walking to their vehicle they do not appear frightened or in a hurry) or unusual (i.e. a person continues to sit in a vehicle 10 minutes after leaving the facility). The point to be made is that it is often difficult to distinguish between the behavior of an individual preparing to commit a crime and the innocent employee or visitor who may be having a problem of some kind. The key point is that as security personnel, we remain alert and make reasonable inquiries such as, "May I help you?" to individuals whose behavior appears unusual. By taking an active interest in learning what is routine from what is unusual and by investigating suspicions, hunches or observations, security personnel will greatly increase their probability of success in providing effective loss prevention.




Segways are becoming a popular way to offer customer service and security in large areas, such as resorts, and areas where the use of cars is impractical due to pedestrian crowds. A Segway gets a guard to an incident more quickly than when the guard is on foot. A Segway is good for parking lot patrols because it allows security guards to see over the cars. A Segway is quiet and fast and it can go places vehicles can't. A Segway shortens routine patrol time as compared to a foot patrol. A guard may be able to do 2-3 times as many patrols during the same time period as compared to being on foot. More frequent patrols give the security guard more presence in an area, which is a deterrent to crime.

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