On the surface, there might not seem to be a great deal of difference between armed and unarmed security guards, except that the former carry firearms. In reality, each serves quite different needs. Determining which is preferable for your circumstances entails careful evaluation of your security requirements.
The following considerations will guide the process to decide which might be the best option:
- What do you need to protect? Are their high-value goods involved?
- Is there a specific threat, such as high-profile assets or a high-crime location?
- Are you protecting public space or will the guards be behind the scenes?
- What are you protecting?
Items of great value, such as jewelry, money, precious metals, etc., or people of high-value who might be considered a kidnap risk, may warrant the use of armed guards. Such targets could legitimately be the focus of criminals who are themselves carrying firepower. Armed security guards are not only a deterrent but have the authority to use deadly force should the situation arise.
- Is there a known threat?
Some locations and situations are more vulnerable to violence than others. Areas with gang activity and late-night locations where alcohol and/or drug use are common are two such examples.
- Will the guards be front of house?
The obvious presence of armed guards can create a perception that a business or location is not safe. For this reason, many choose to have an unarmed presence in plain sight, with armed guards remaining behind the scenes ready to be deployed should the situation require.
Of course, should the intention be for a visible armed presence then it makes sense that armed security is in full public view.
There are pros and cons to having armed guards. On the plus side, they signify that the location being guarded is not a “soft” target, and this in itself is a deterrent. They can match the force of armed criminals and provide a reassuring security presence for those who work in a high-risk environment.
On the other hand, armed security could act as provocation in certain situations. Rather than diffusing an incident it might inflame it, inciting further violence. Evaluating this risk is part of the assessment that should be made before determining if armed guards are the right solution.
Advantages Of Unarmed Security Guards
Many businesses and locations are best served by unarmed security. Such a presence provides a similar level of deterrent and is less intimidating. Unarmed guards are more suited to situations such as:
- Preventing trespassing and vandalism
- Preventing theft of a lower value than the extremely valuable merchandise mentioned above
- Where a fast police response is likely
- In a public place where you’d like to instill the perception of a “safe location”
The title of “unarmed” is a little misleading, as most carry non-lethal weapons, such as batons, sprays, and tasers, so still provide a significant level of defense.
The most important aspect when determining the most suitable guards is to take advantage of a professional security assessment. A high-end security company such as Fast Guard Security Service provides initial evaluations to ensure provision of the ultimate level of security and will advise as to whether armed or unarmed guards are the most appropriate for your requirements, and whether there are other security services that can be a solution for your business.