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Armed vs. Unarmed Security: Which Type of Security Guard Do You Need?

By Carlos Hazbun | Security Guards | No Comments

Armed vs. Unarmed Security: Which Type of Security Guard Do You Need?

If you’re looking to upgrade security at your commercial facility, you may be considering adding guards to your security plan. One of the first choices to consider is whether you need armed or unarmed security.  The primary function of both types of guards is to observe and report the crimes and the threat of crimes to local law enforcement. Even if the armed guard is an off-duty law enforcement officer, he or she will get involved at that level only in an extreme situation.

However, they bring different skill sets and approaches, which means that one of the two may be better suited for your business. Examining the benefits of both, along with how they match up with your company’s culture and threat assessment will determine which type of guard can meet your needs.

Armed vs. Unarmed Security

Other than weapons, what’s the main difference between the two types of guards? The goal of using uniformed armed security guards is deterrence. You want to make it evident that your property, employees, and any visitors are monitored and protected by licensed professionals who have the ability to use extreme force. Some facilities use plainclothes armed guards, but in most cases, the goal is to provide obvious visual clues that armed guards are on scene and vigilant.

The goal of using unarmed guards is deterrence and apprehension. The unarmed guards remove the risk of extreme force but provide substantially the same level of services. They can observe and report issues to local law enforcement and property managers as necessary.

For some facilities and public settings, unarmed guards may offer a higher level of comfort or peace of mind. The public may be more intimidated by an armed guard and may be less likely to interact in a casual fashion. In these instances, unarmed guards can serve as brand ambassadors and provide customer service duties like access control and providing directions in addition to their guard duties .

Differences Between Armed and Unarmed Security

Characteristics Armed Guards Unarmed Guards
Function Deterrence Customer service and deterrence
Training Extensive training, including college degrees for officers Minimum of 40 hours in most states
Licensure/Certification ● Certification testing

● Background checks

● Drug testing

● Weapons licensure

● HS/GED required

● Certified after   successfully completing training

Additional Training Stun guns, batons, pepper spray, first aid, AED/CPR First aid, AED/CPR

When to Hire an Armed Guard

An armed guard is warranted when your facility needs highly-trained personnel who can respond to a threat. They can serve as a deterrent and also provide an active response when necessary. You’ll have the benefit of experienced personnel on-site who can supplement surveillance systems and alarms. The guard can determine when to escalate a situation or defuse it, with safety and minimizing possible disruptions to your business always kept top of mind.

Some questions to consider:

  • Is deterrence your primary goal?
  • Is your business is high risk?
  • Is the safety of your staff and visitors a concern?
  • Do you have high-value assets?
  • Does your business operate on private property?

Armed guards don’t have to be used 24×7. Perhaps you only need them after hours when the site is empty, or during busy times of the day when more people are around? You can use unarmed guards or your security system to accommodate lower risk periods.

When to Hire an Unarmed Guard

A properly trained unarmed guard can de-escalate disputes, reducing tensions and resolving conflicts of all types. The unarmed guard can coordinate with the security system, checking up on situations spotted by cameras for example.

The mere presence of the unarmed guard can stop many criminal activities such as burglary and theft before they happen. The guard’s visible patrol activities will make criminals think it’s too risky.

Some questions to consider:

  • Is prevention your primary goal?
  • Is your business is low risk?
  • Is your business open to the public?

The value of the property will also play a role in selecting the type of guard that’s best for your site.

Hire Highly-Trained Security Guards

Ultimately, the choice between armed or unarmed security depends on the risks that you’re trying to mitigate. If you would not want an armed guard to respond with extreme force, then it doesn’t make sense to have that level of protection for your property or event.

GardaWorld’s expert consultants are available to help you determine which type of guard is best suited to your needs. Our guards are vetted, undergo rigorous training and receive additional education above and beyond the minimum.

Contact us for a security guard consultation today.

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