Study shows training for private security guards is falling behind, but MSU has stricter standards

Training standards for private security guards are lacking, according to a study conducted by Mahesh Nalla, associate director and professor in the School of Criminal Justice. 

Nalla said the private security industry is fairly big, but there are no college-level degree requirements by Michigan’s standards. Nalla also said relative to police training, private security guards have virtually no expectations.

“Very often they say that some training has to be given to security guards, but it could be as little as giving them a video to watch or have them shadow a guard for a day. But there are no mandated hours,” Nalla said.

At MSU, security employees are trained by the police department. Capt. Penny Fischer said because the department both provides and is responsible for security, MSU police are able to ensure the “security employees” receive the most timely training required for the community.

“MSU operates as a closed system directly from the police department,” Fischer said in an email. “We are the department that oversees police operations, manages crime trend information, develops needs for security and directly train (and) deploy those employees.”

Fischer said all the security employees are given training for the duties they are expected to carry out with initial training and then annual refresher training. If certain positions require additional training, it is provided by the police department alongside certified instructors.

Most of the employees are requested on behalf of departments or units who are in need of enhanced security.

The majority of security workforce on campus are MSU students known as Greencoat Security Employees. Sometimes the police department will hire temporary “on-call” employees to perform certain security functions, but students make up most of the security on campus. There are also security officers who work at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. mr

Security employees can be expected at special events on campus and are issued uniforms, radios, flashlights, cold-weather gear, CPR masks and disposable gloves. Weapons and handcuffs are not assigned because security employees are not sworn officers and do not have authority beyond that of citizens.

Paula Paschal, owner and CEO of Paschal Security Systems LLC in Lansing, said her company provides training to all employees, whether they have a background in policing or are starting from the beginning. Some guards have been trained in previous lines of work, while some are fresh out of school or have no experience, but they are retrained regardless.

Paschal also said it’s important to have on-the-job training in conjunction with general training because some positions require guards to pay attention to certain things and be prepared for certain situations.

“Private security really is like the middle man between the police and community — someone trained to look out for certain things and provide some sense of protection where some citizens aren’t capable, or don’t have the knowledge,” Paschal said.

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