AZAR…the private security industry works to complement the national security apparatus
Security firms KingAlarm and Guardsman Group are urging the government to tap into the private security industry to bolster local crime-fighting efforts.
Both companies pointed to the power and number of security guards working in the industry, saying they would greatly complement the operations of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Kenneth “Kenny” Benjamin, executive chairman of Guardsman Group of Companies, told the Jamaica Observer that many police officers who are otherwise committed could be reassigned to more rigid positions within the force.
“We are doing a lot of necessary work and we want to do more. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a lot of work that the police do that we could easily take on and relieve many police officers to go and fight crime, which they’re well trained for, rather than directing the traffic or being in embassies or working in police stations which can be outsourced. The police can really go and do what the police should do,” he said in a recent interview.
“We raised the issue with the government. We could be a good support for national security and we already are. Now more than anything else, the government should pay attention to the security guard industry. We lack 89,000 men in the police and the army is always in demand.
Some 8,000 security personnel work at Guardsman in areas including technology, security, cash logistics, sustainability and hospitality.
Last month, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang said he expected to add about 1,500 new cops a year and increase the use of technology to curb crime. The goal is to increase the force to 14,000 members.
John Azar, managing director of KingAlarm, told the Sunday Observer that, as things stand, the private security industry already plays a very important role and could have more impact if linked to crime-fighting strategies.
“The private security industry strives to complement the national security apparatus, ie the JCF and the JDF (Jamaica Defense Force). That being said, I certainly think that given the size of the private security guard industry, if these people could be more engaged in terms of additional eyes and ears on the ground across the island, certainly, I think engaging them even more in crime fighting would only be beneficial,” he reasoned.
“I think they already play a very important role…much more important than a lot of people realize. But I would certainly be in favor of them being even more involved. Whenever you have a force size many thousands larger than the police force, clearly the more you could engage them in a united effort against crime, the more obvious the benefits would be,” he continued. .
KingAlarm employs over 3,000 security professionals across all of its locations.
In June 2017, then-Minister of National Security Robert Montague announced that 100 district officers were to join the JCF over a four-month period.
Montague made the disclosure during the United District Constable Association’s (UDCA) 37th anniversary church service and noted that training district officers will build the JCF’s human resource capacity and reduce short-term police personnel shortages. and long term. -term.
“After a minimum of two years as [district constable]take an exam and pass, take a physical test, medical test and pass a lie detector test, they will be trained for four months, will be on probation for two years, and then become proud members of the police force,” he said. he declares.
Azar added: “Years ago there were discussions about making more private security officers into district officers. I know it was a discussion that took place, but I’m not sure where they are in terms of implementation. »
However, the big question is whether security guards would be willing to take the test and take on such a role.
There is no doubt in Benjamin’s mind that they would be.
“Sure!” he exclaimed.
“Not because they’re security guards…they’re very well trained. And every year many of them leave us and go into the police and the army,” he added.
But a security guard told the Sunday Observer that the new role should come with a pay rise.
“Before we are marketed to take on this role, we need better treatment and better pay. Security work is not easy. We work long hours and are underpaid right now, so I can’t imagine any of us want to take on more work. Not unless we get it in writing and signed by the powers that be will we be paid accordingly. This is my position and it will not change,” he argued.
A second security guard said: ‘It seems security guards are only seen in a positive light when they want something from us. Other than that, we come in like watered-down police. Not even the subway [municipal police] get disrespect like security. That’s a big no from me…I didn’t sign up to do police work. Police must do police work and security must do security work.
Meanwhile, Azar said that apart from security guards, armed response teams already play an extremely critical role in crime control.
“Armed intervention teams, like ours, supplement the work of the police on the streets day and night. Many people probably don’t know how closely we work with the JCF on the streets. There is a perception that companies like ours are in competition with the police and that couldn’t be further from the truth. We work closely with them and support their efforts,” he told the Sunday Observer.
Additionally, Benjamin reiterated the role of the security industry.
“If something goes wrong with the security companies, Bank of Jamaica can’t open. None of the banks are going to open. The money couldn’t move and the banks would be in big trouble. The airports couldn’t open, hospitals couldn’t open. It just goes on and on. If we went on strike, Jamaica would have to close. Literally, we’re a third force and combined. As an industry, we’re bigger than the police force and soldiers together.
“If the police are so short, why don’t they hand over some of the non-police work to security companies?” There are so many things they [security officers] can do. This can relieve thousands of police officers of their duties. It will be cheaper and more efficient.
Last month, retired senior police officer Newton Amos said it should be mandatory for civilians seeking to become legal gun owners to be officially part of the nation’s crime-fighting efforts.
Amos argued that “every person who owns a [licensed] firearm” must be part of the “police intelligence architecture”.
BENJAMIN…we are doing a lot of necessary work and we want to do more