Guards are called protection officers by the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO), and for good reason. The term guard does little to command respect or convey professionalism to the public who encounter them on a daily basis.
“There’s a shadow cast upon the whole industry due to the misconception surrounding guards,” Sandi Davies of the IFPO said. “In truth, these hard-working, highly trained men and women are our first responders who have a wide range of skills.”
The IFPO’s main weapons in the fight against the stereotype are training and education, tools that have made it a leading security educational institution and an authoritative voice in the field. The not-for-profit membership organization has provided professional development opportunities to many of the country’s protection officers, with over 80,000 guards gaining some type of certification through IFPO programs.
These officers represent a mix of proprietary and contract officers working in industries that include hospitals, campuses, nuclear facilities, cultural properties and gaming. Businesses that employ what is known as Certified Protection Officers (CPO) are diverse: Dow Chemical, AFLAC, American Red Cross, Ralph Lauren, Ohio State University and the United States Marine Corps have all hired officers who went through the rigors of IFPO
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IFPO Tenet: Professionalism through Education
The IFPO was founded by Ron Minion, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and owner of a large Canadian contract business. Minion was steadfast in his belief that protection officers needed to be properly screened, trained and uniformed, and in 1988 he founded IFPO after selling his agency. He served as its Executive Director until 1992, and was succeeded by Sandi Davies, who has held the office ever since.
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Like Minion, the security industry has been a lifelong passion for Sandi Davies. Her career began in 1980, when after college she landed a job with Minion’s agency, performing administrative duties in the personnel department. Davies says that during this era, training programs were scant, if existent at all. “There really wasn’t training for people pursuing a career in private security,” Davies observed. “Officers would come in, get a uniform, get a license and away they would go.” Her interest in the area grew, and over time, she became instrumental in the development of security training programs. “I found a market niche where I could create quality educational programs, so that’s exactly what I did.”