Security Training and Education Must Deal With Emotions2013-08-28T16:31:54-04:00

By: Richard Abrams
April 2001
Reprint Protection News

One area of security that receives very little mention is how this job of providing private security effects the practitioner's emotions. Why this is important is that how we relate to our work environment on an emotional level will directly effect how we relate to people we must interact with on the job. How much our relationships are effected by our emotions will enhance or impede our chances of accomplishing our security objectives.

One of the most emotionally charged security settings is hospital security. When discussing this topic with Officer Vaughn Ihrke of Mercy/Unity Hospitals in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, he said: "Security officers in some hospitals are expected to be that extra set of hands and to fill in wherever they are needed. Much of their time is spent in places like the Emergency Room doing CPR compressions, experiencing death up close and personal. These security officers may be expected to do access control in the Morgue where the asset to be protected is a deceased person ranging from old age to tiny babies. Dealing with death and dying on multiple levels is an every day occurrence in the life of some hospital security officers."

As you might imagine, hospital security officers come in contact with upset family members and unruly visitors, which is an emotion-filled event. In addition they may be involved with patient watches of psychologically disturbed individuals and inebriates resulting in physical restraining conflicts. Officers in these incidents are regularly hit, spit on, bitten, kicked and threatened with physical harm; all emotion triggering events.

Officer Ihrke added that, "Setting aside the death and dying issues, these hospital security events are not unlike Mall Security, Retail Security or any Security situation involving the public at large."

Emotions that security officers in general deal with on a regular basis include, but are not limited to, fear, confusion, hurt, anger, blame and guilt, revenge, compassion, empathy, sympathy, complacency, boredom, anxiety, superiority, powerlessness, feelings of loss of control, etc. In our attempt to maintain an attitude of neutrality and fairness in our dealings with people, notice how easy it would be to tip the scales of neutrality and fairness, one way or the other, when the security officer's personal emotions are triggered.

For most officers the hospital security, mall security and retail security events may be the extreme rare incidents that never happen or that happen only once every three years. That means there is a whole other side of the emotions scale for security officer duties that can be just as threatening. What I mean is, from time to time we are required to perform perfunctory or boring duties like watching video monitors or checking badges at the front door or conducting endless building tours. Boredom can be as emotion generating as anything else and as debilitating to the job of providing private security services as any of the above listed emotions.

Certainly emotion generators and how emotions effect security officer performance is a topic the IFPO is interested in. The Security Officer Training Manual, The Security Supervisors Manual, and the many other writings sponsored by the IFPO include references to this topic. For instance, it would be good for every security officer to study the control formula, C=I/E, found in the Security Officer Training Manual and to study the Tache-psyche effect found in that same text. In fact, it would be good for every security officer to study for and take the CPO certification. Preparation for that certification would certainly shed a lot of light on the topic of security officer emotions and how to control self in a variety of situations.

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