Looking back to early 2020, few of us would have predicted that the coronavirus pandemic would continue to create social, public health, and business challenges nearly two years later. Nerves are frayed, patience is wearing thin, and policies meant to contain the most recent Omicron strain of COVID-19 have pushed many in the public to their limits. From a security perspective, it’s why now (as much as ever) is the time for organizations across the Greater Toronto Area to embrace a compassionate approach to security. That means relying on the expertise of Toronto security providers that protect and enforce rules but also focus on engaging and calmly controlling challenging situations.
As we’ve noted in previous blogs, security risk mitigation is about taking both a proactive and reactive approach that puts the customer or community experience first. That applies in a range of settings, from retail outlets and residential communities such as condominiums to office complexes and public institutions such as healthcare facilities or college and university campuses.
But taking it a step further, it’s also important to apply security protocols in a reasonable and measured way. There are countless examples of alleged incidents of excessive use of force by Toronto security guards in Canada. Each incident must be assessed based on relevant facts and circumstances—and many are not always as they seem—but there is little doubt that, at times, some guards apply disproportionate force when responding to an incident. Often it’s because they lack the necessary training, tools, or management oversight that would otherwise prompt them to take a different course of action.
Highly aggressive security guard responses create significant liability for organizations—not to mention creating potentially negative ripple effects for their corporate brand or resident experience. A basic principle of effective security guarding is that with the right preparation and training, many incidents can be de-escalated and resolved without the use of force. The concept isn’t merely relevant during a stressful pandemic but during any interaction between Toronto security personnel and the public.
Enhancing brand experiences through Toronto security
Depending on the setting, but especially in urban areas, security guards will interact with a broad subsection of the public. While the focus is often on their work to stop thieves or vandals from stealing items or damaging property, in many cases their time is spent interacting with vulnerable populations such as members of the homeless community or individuals struggling with drug or alcohol addictions. These encounters can be challenging, but when properly managed, confrontations can usually be avoided.
For example, a security guard that encounters a homeless person sleeping in a shopping mall doorway in the middle of winter has an opportunity to help. While informing the person that they can’t camp in the doorway, they can also check that the individual isn’t suffering from an acute physical or mental health issue. If so, they can contact relevant first responders such as paramedics or police and then wait until one of those teams arrive on-site. In the absence of an acute issue, they can work to help the individual secure access to a social worker who might be able to help them find temporary lodging or other necessary care.
It’s easy to take a heavy-handed approach in a scenario such as this. But by acting compassionately, a Toronto security guard can not only set the stage for positive interaction but can capitalize on the chance to assist an individual in need. That, in turn, reflects positively on the organization they’ve been tasked to protect.
Measured response training at Wincon Security
Taking a compassionate approach to security starts with smart training, re-training, and culture-wide reinforcement. If a security provider sets the bar high and reminds guards of the expectation that they’ll deploy effective, appropriate, and measured responses in every situation, the chances of incidents escalating out of control will be greatly reduced.
At Wincon Security, for example, we assess your Toronto security needs during our client intake process, then propose a comprehensive risk mitigation strategy that aligns with your operational requirements. That includes delivering pre-deployment training to our guards addressing a range of tactical considerations, including the use of force and non-violent crisis training.
Our training systems cover:
- Arrest procedures
- Situational de-escalation
- Crisis communication
- Non-violent intervention
- Training on relevant provincial and federal use of force legislation
- Hand-cuff techniques, use of baton and, self-defence and defence against edged weapons
Our goal is to not only provide strong security deterrence to help protect your property but to ensure that our guards have the training and tools needed to enforce the Trespass to Property Act and to set the stage for positive engagements with the public and other key stakeholders.
Lastly, it’s important to note that for security providers, two important factors help to put a sense of compassion and caring behind their work: strong recruitment and employee engagement. By hiring committed professionals who arrive to work on time, are fully prepared, are in uniform, and are ready to give their very best every day, Toronto security providers can create a culture of success and dedication to client service. But many fall short in this regard, hiring guards merely to fill roles without investing in their training and career development. This is a significant oversight and it’s the reason why it pays to do proper due diligence when hiring a security firm. More on that in a future blog.
In the meantime, it’s important to remember that putting compassion into security starts with a focus on culture, employee policies, and making investments in a Toronto security team’s ongoing success.
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Winston Stewart, President and CEO