I’m a guard at a high end store with expensive merchandise

  • Jerry Swander, 61, had been a bus driver for 25 years when he decided to try something new.
  • A career in security “fascinates” him and he is hired by a security services company.
  • He was trained in de-escalation tactics and the use of force; he now works at a jewelry store in Phoenix.

This say-to-say essay is based on a conversation with Jerry Swander, 61, a security guard at high end jewelry store at Phoenix. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I was a city bus driver for 25 years. It was a well-paying job with great benefits that helped me support my family and children. But after doing this job for so long, I wanted to try something different.

There was something about a career in security that fascinated me. I first worked as an armored vehicle guard for two years, until a colleague told me that she was going to work in a security services company. I applied there too and worked with them for the past 3 and a half years.

I had very little safety experience before landing this job, but I think the company knew that my career as a bus driver had prepared me with good observation and communication skills that could translate into what I would have to manage on a daily basis. day job as a security guard.

After passing a state and federal background check, I was able to begin new employee orientation, which consists of eight hours of training on topics such as de-escalation, use of force, how to writing an incident report, etc. I also had an additional four hour de-escalation course which was specifically for staff working with high end clients. Finally, I had to take an eight-hour use of force course, which included training in handcuffing and the use of non-lethal force options.

Once completed, I received approximately eight hours of additional on-the-job training, where a supervisor walked me through the property I would be guarding and explained to me the responsibilities of a security guard for that location.

Even though it was a lot of initial training, every year we have to go through an additional de-escalation and use of force program, and every two years we have to renew our firearms license with a course from 4 p.m.

One of the places I work is a high-end jewelry store in Phoenix. Here are the ways I am trained to protect merchandise.

I follow a routine and report every hour

My work begins even before the store opens. I always show up 15 minutes before the store opens to check each display case to make sure the jewelry inside is properly locked. I check that the front door and back door are secure and make sure the locks haven’t been tampered with. Then I walk around the mall at the back of the building to make sure there is nothing out of the ordinary there, like people walking around or cars parked there.

Once 10 a.m. I unlock the doors and mostly stand towards the front of the store so I can clearly see everything inside the store and also outside the store, such as passers-by and passing cars. stop.

I announce my presence

When you’re a security guard at a high-end store, it’s important to make your presence known. When people know you’re there and you’re alert, they’re less likely to try to steal the items. It also lets people know there’s someone in the store looking at everything, including them, without being too pushy.

I do this by opening and closing the door for each person, standing up to be seen by all customers in the store, and making sure I never look distracted.

I observe from all angles

As I mainly stay at the front of the store, I have a shelf with cameras on it so I can observe the three blind spots that I cannot see from my usual location. I alternate between cameras and if I notice anything suspicious I will walk to that area to make my presence known.

I watch everyone in the store very closely.

A big part of my job is learning to spot potential threats, which can often take the form of very small signs around a person’s body language and facial expressions.

I feel like I understand people well from my past as a bus driver. I had to talk daily with strangers and manage conflicts between passengers. This experience, along with my formal training as a security guard, helped me hone my observation skills.

I watch to see if a person seems nervous, because few people can stay calm when they’re up to something bad. Are they constantly looking around? Are they fidgeting? Where are their hands? If they’re hanging around their belt, pocket, or purse, they might have a gun or weapon.

I also pay attention to people who have pulled out their phones and what they are capturing on their phone. For example, I watch to see if they are recording or taking pictures from the cameras, as this could indicate that they are planning on doing something in the future.

In recent years, snatches and foreclosures have become more popular occurrences in high-end stores. When a large group of people enter the store together, I am very alert. I check where their hands are, because people who smash and grab usually bring something with them to smash windows and steal items.

It takes communication skills and patience

To properly protect a high-end store, you don’t want to scale anything unless absolutely necessary. Sure, there are situations where you should jump in, but most of the time you have to assess a situation and be patient.

I approach most situations that seem unusual by approaching the person in a calm, conversational tone. Sometimes angry or agitated people can change their tone if you speak to them kindly. Empathizing is important, as you may be able to talk to them while you assess the situation further.

What I enjoy most about my job as a security guard is being able to interact with people. Most people are good, but maybe some people are having a bad day, so I try not to judge people. I just watched them. How I react depends a lot on my training and my instincts.