- Jerry Swander, 61, had been a bus driver for 25 years when he determined to attempt one thing new.
- A profession in safety “fascinated” him, and he was employed by a security-services firm.
- He was educated in de-escalation techniques and use of pressure; he now works at a jewellery retailer in Phoenix.
This as-told-to essay is predicated on a dialog with Jerry Swander, 61, a security guard at a high-end jewelry store in Phoenix. It has been edited for size and readability.
I used to be a metropolis bus driver for 25 years. It was a good-paying job with nice advantages that helped me present for my household and youngsters. But after working that job for thus lengthy, I needed to attempt one thing totally different.
There was one thing about a profession in safety that fascinated me. I first took a job as an armored automobile guard for 2 years, till a coworker advised me she was leaving to work at a security-services company. I utilized there, too, and have labored with them for the previous 3 ½ years.
I had little or no safety expertise earlier than touchdown this job, however I believe the corporate knew that my profession as a bus driver ready me with good observational and communication abilities that would translate into what I’d have to take care of on a day-to-day foundation as a safety guard.
After going by means of a state and federal background examine, I used to be in a position to start the brand new worker orientation, which is eight hours of coaching on subjects like de-escalation, use of pressure, how to do an incident report, and extra. I additionally had a further four-hour de-escalation class that was particularly for workers working with high-end purchasers. Finally, I had to take an eight-hour course on using pressure, which included coaching on handcuffing and using nonlethal-force choices.
Once that was accomplished, I used to be given round eight hours of extra on-the-job coaching, the place a supervisor walked me by means of the property I’d be guarding and went into the duties of a safety guard for that location.
While it was a lot of preliminary coaching, yearly now we have to full a further de-escalation and use-of-force program, and each two years now we have to renew our firearm license with a 16-hour course.
One of the areas the place I work is a high-end jewellery retailer in Phoenix. Here are the methods I’m educated to protect the merchandise.
I comply with a routine and do an hourly report
My job begins even earlier than the shop opens. I at all times present up quarter-hour earlier than the shop opens to examine every show case to ensure the jewellery inside is correctly locked. I examine that the entrance door and again door are secured and ensure the locks have not been tampered with. Then I take a stroll across the procuring plaza to the again of the constructing to ensure there is not something out of the abnormal there, reminiscent of individuals strolling round or automobiles parked again there.
Once 10 a.m. rolls round, I unlock the doorways and stand largely towards the entrance of the store so I can clearly see every little thing inside the shop and in addition exterior of the shop like individuals strolling by and automobiles pulling up.
I make my presence identified
When you’re a safety guard at a high-end retailer, it is vital to make your presence identified. When individuals know you’re there and you’re alert, they is likely to be much less probably to attempt to steal the objects. It additionally lets individuals know there’s somebody in the shop watching every little thing, together with them, with out being too aggressive.
I do that by opening and shutting the door for every particular person, standing up entrance so I will be seen by all the shoppers in the shop, and ensuring I by no means look distracted.
I observe all angles
Since I largely keep on the entrance of the shop, I’ve a pill with cameras on it so I can observe the three blind spots that I can not see from my normal location. I change backwards and forwards between the cameras and If I discover something suspicious, I’ll stroll towards that space to make my presence identified.
I observe all of the individuals in the shop very carefully
An enormous a part of my job is studying how to detect potential threats, which frequently can come in the type of very small indicators round a particular person’s physique language and facial expressions.
I really feel like I perceive individuals effectively from my background as a bus driver. I had to communicate with strangers on a each day foundation and deal with conflicts between passengers. That expertise, together with my formal coaching as a safety guard, has helped me hone my statement abilities.
I look to see if a particular person appears nervous, as a result of not many individuals can keep calm when they are up to one thing unhealthy. Are they continually wanting round? Are they fidgeting? Where are their fingers? If they are hovering round their waistband, pocket, or purse, they may need a firearm or weapon.
I additionally concentrate to individuals who have their telephones out and what they are capturing on their telephones. For instance, I watch to see if they are recording or taking photos of the cameras, since that would point out they are planning on doing one thing in the long run.
Over the previous few years, snatch and grabs have change into extra common occurrences at high-end shops. When a giant group of individuals stroll into the shop collectively, I’m additional alert. I examine the place their fingers are, since individuals who do smash and grabs normally convey one thing in with them to shatter the glass instances and steal the objects.
It takes communication abilities and persistence
To correctly guard a high-end retailer, you don’t need to escalate one thing except it is completely essential. Sure, there are conditions when you ought to bounce proper in, however more often than not, you want to assess a state of affairs and be affected person.
I method most conditions that appear uncommon by approaching the particular person in a calm and conversational tone. Sometimes people who find themselves offended or agitated can change their tone if you communicate to them in a form method. Showing empathy is massive as a result of you may give you the option to speak them down whereas you additional assess the state of affairs.
What I get pleasure from most about my job as a safety guard is getting to work together with individuals. Most persons are good, however some is likely to be having a unhealthy day, which is why I attempt to not decide individuals; I simply observe them. How I react is predicated a lot on my coaching and on my intestine.