by Mark D Hardison, CPO
Reprint Protection News
After spending thousands of dollars to improve and increase security at your facility; the equipment is in place, the guards have been posted, and now you can relax. Right? But wait, what about the training that the Security Officers/Screeners have received? How much did they get? Was it site-specific, or was it off-the-shelf? What about specific procedure for this post? Addressing all of these questions could fill a book; a book that would really only address one facility. You probably already have elements of that book on hand: your site’s Security Operations Manual. What I would like to address in this article, are some things that you may not have on hand already.
When my civilian employer; a large financial services corporation; added X-ray machines and metal scanners to our facilities, there was a need for additional and continuing training for the operators. While the initial training was good, there is a high turnover in this industry; also, training should be geared to the problems and threats the your facility will face. By a stroke of good luck, there were some experienced individuals on hand to help with this project. Also, I was able to use my own experience, and was able to pick their brains for useful information, and technical expertise. By the way, not all of them are, or have been, employed by my company. Their help was given as friends and comrades; and has been greatly appreciated. I feel that the first lesson is to develop your on-site talent pool; and then DIVE IN! In your company there are probably already individuals who can help with this sort of project, and are eager to do so.
What has happened at our company is that a series of classes were developed. Training consists of three parts: A) An initial training class for contract and proprietary Security Officers. This is about two hours long, and involves hands-on experience. B) This is followed by on-the-job training of the Officers. This involves several hours of actual, supervised operation of the entry screening equipment. C) There is also a class for contract mailroom employees in operating the X-ray machine to screen incoming mail.
In order to support these classes (which I teach), I have had to think "outside the box", and develop training aids that would provide realistic simulations of the expected threats. One of my first efforts was to develop an "X-ray Training Guide", using our X-ray machines. I live in Arizona, so getting ahold of concealable weapons was not much of a challenge. First, the items were photographed with a ‘scale’, to indicate true size. (A dollar bill, or other common item works well. I used one inch graph paper, drawing scales on the grid of the paper.) Next, item was X-rayed, and a photograph taken of various views of the X-ray monitor screen; for example, high and low density settings, color and black-and-white, negative image, and so on. After these pictures were developed, they were assembled into a ‘book’, with captions to explain the photos. In other jurisdictions you may need to get the help of the local police to get a good sample of concealable firearms.
Simulated explosive devices were a bit different. These are not the sort of things you can go the store and pick up! Well, not pre-assembled, anyway. If you can get someone in the military or on the local bomb squad to provide these, or help you make them, you will be ahead of the game. Be sure to mark all simulators as simulators; and be very careful how they are transported! You may even want to check with you company's legal counsel about Federal and local laws regarding this matter.
Next, a lesson plan was developed for these classes, based around hands-on operation of the equipment. An offshoot of that lesson plan, which was geared to our specific policies and procedures; were two articles. These articles were published in Protection News quarterly (Winter 1997 & Summer 1998). This is the in-house publication of the International Foundation for Protection Officers. These articles can be used to supplement an existing program, or to help develop one.