Use of Force Policies and You

Ensure that your guards are making the right decisions with a strong stance on the use of force.



The Five Levels of Engagement
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What Should the Policy Include?
Creating a use of force policy should be a formalized process – you shouldn’t create a document on your own and start training people, cautions Ahrens.

You need to reach out to your legal and HR departments to confirm the policy is in line with corporate objectives. You also need to ensure that your policy abides by state and municipal restrictions.

“Start with what the laws are in your jurisdiction,” Leighton recommends. “Look at when the police are permitted to use force and work backwards from there.”

As you develop the policy, it’s important to discuss hypothetical scenarios when use of force could be warranted. If there’s a domestic assault situation, for example, what are the pros and cons of restraining the assailant?

“During these conversations, you’ll find you have a bunch of dilemmas and imperfect answers,” Stanley says. “But discussing how the use of force could play out in different situations will help you shape and clarify the policy.”

How Do I Enforce the Policy?
Security need to be trained on your policy. Otherwise, they could mistakenly skip necessary steps, jump to a tactic that’s more aggressive than warranted, or use an approach that’s not approved.

Policies should be written in accessible language for easy comprehensibility. “You need a well-written policy that is simple, effective, and straight-to-the-point,” Stanley recommends. “Will your security team understand and remember it?”

Also make sure your policy isn’t ironclad to the point that it doesn’t account for catch-22s, notes Ahrens.

It’s too easy to find videos online showing guards passively watching someone get assaulted because they were instructed to only observe and report. Had they been given permission to engage in life-threatening situations only, many companies could avoid a potential PR nightmare.

“It’s worthwhile for your leadership to identify what’s important to the company culture and have that reflected in all of your policies,” stresses Stanley, “especially in one as sensitive, volatile, and legally vulnerable as use of force.”


Jennie Morton jennie.morton@buildings.com is associate editor of BUILDINGS.


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