One subject that tends to elicit emotive debates in the security sector is that of arming private security guards. There are those who argue strongly in favor of arming private security guards. And there those who are vehemently opposed to the very idea of arming private security guards. Both sides of the debate tend to have strong points, which can’t be overlooked.
Starting with the pros of arming private security guards, the main argument is that armed security guards are a real deterrent to potential criminals. Indeed, potential criminals (and other types of saboteurs) will tend to think twice before attacking places where there are armed guards. The supporters of arming security guards also argue that giving arms to private security guards would lighten the burden on local police forces.
Turning to the cons of arming private security guards, the main argument is that the security guards who are armed are likely to start abusing their arms. The problem with armed security guards is in that they tend to become very cocky. There is also the risk of the security guards resorting to kill people at the slightest suspicion, and also the situation where the security guards opt to shoot suspected criminals, instead of trying to run after the suspects and apprehend them. Then there is the risk of the armed security guards starting to hire out their arms to criminals. Further still, there exists the risk of people in specific places hiring security guards, and arming the security guards so heavily that they end up creating private armies. With such private armies (made up of heavily armed security guards), the ‘principals’ can soon get to a point where they can even challenge local police. It can escalate to a point where, relying on their heavily armed private guards, the principals can even resist lawful arrest…
My stand in this whole debate is this: I am against the arming of private security guards. Instead, I prefer having police who are properly kitted, remunerated and otherwise highly motivated. The role of security guards should be limited to that of collecting information, and then calling the police when(ever) they see something that is unseemly. On their part, the police offers should be in a position to arrive fast enough to make a difference.