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Behind the Badge – The Importance of Thorough Background Checks for Security Personnel

Behind the Badge
Background checks are imperative for security firms, ensuring safety, regulatory compliance, integrity & client trust. They mitigate risks & protect reputations.
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One of the most important duties for security companies is the background check they conduct before hiring a security employee. In theory, all will say background checks are mandatory…but the truth is…in practice, only a few security companies run background checks on the people they employ. The majority don’t, and it’s because, quite often, they are in a hurry to find the bodies to cover an urgent detail (How many job ads have you seen, especially on LinkedIn, looking to cover a position that will start in less than 24h, making you wonder how they will be able to screen applicants before the job starts?), sometimes they do not want the hassle that comes with it, and sometimes they do not know, nor do they have the people who know, how to conduct a background check.

Employee background checks are important for EVERY business no matter what services they offer. When it comes to companies that provide security services, because of the nature of the job, background checks are not just important, they are mandatory!

Screening your applicants is vital for the following reasons :

  • Safety and Security: Security professionals are tasked with protecting sensitive information, valuable assets, and the safety of individuals or premises. It’s crucial that these employees are trustworthy and do not have a history of criminal behavior or misconduct that could compromise their ability to protect effectively. Also, consider that security professionals often have access to restricted areas, sensitive or proprietary assets, and may handle emergency situations. Employing someone with a problematic history could increase the risk of incidents, liability, and reputational damage.
  • Regulatory Compliance: The security industry in many States is subject to regulations that require background checks. Employees often need to pass background checks to ensure they meet industry standards and legal requirements to be able to hold a firearm carry permit or to obtain a security license.
  • Qualifications and Experience Verification: Background checks verify that candidates have the qualifications and experience they claim. This helps maintain a high standard of competence in the workforce and assures that the people you end hiring are who they claim to be and can do what they claim they can.
  • Integrity and Reliability: By verifying past employment history and checking references, employers can determine a candidate’s integrity and reliability. Consistent employment history and positive references often indicate a trustworthy and dependable employee.
  • Reducing Risk of Liability: Hiring individuals without proper background checks can lead to negligent hiring claims if the employee is involved in harmful activities at work or found working without proper licensing. Early this month, Royal Farms and Maximum Protective Services got sued by the family of the victim who was shot and killed in October last year at Royal Farms by an unlicensed security guard employed by Maximum Protective Services. The suit claimed that the security guard who had lied during her application and had a prior conviction, should not have been able to obtain a gun permit. And we can find plenty of similar stories in the media outlets. Employers who perform thorough background checks also demonstrate due diligence in their hiring processes. Years ago, we at Blue Raven Inc. during one of our regular background checks, were able to catch an applicant who had a strong history with Antifa groups and was using the DCJS license number of someone else with a similar name to his.
  • Protecting Company Reputation: Employing individuals with a problematic history can harm a company’s reputation, especially if their role is public-facing or involves significant responsibility such as security roles. It is our company’s policy to spend more than 4 hours and conduct a thorough check on each one of our applicants, including their social media. However, there are many companies that fail to do even a basic background check, and soon after, you see their names hitting the news for employing unlicensed personnel and sometimes even ex-convicts.
  • Ensuring a Good Fit: Background checks can also include assessments of a candidate’s potential fit with the company/and/or client’s culture or values, which is important for long-term employee retention and clients’ satisfaction. Considering the fact that security companies may provide services to celebrities and other public figures, it is important to have confidence about the agents you place next to and close to your clients. A good reminder is the incident with one of the security guards who was hired to provide services for Taylor Swift concerts last summer and was later fired due to unprofessional conduct. In one of his interviews, he admitted that he has been a long-time fan of the singer and said, I got to talk to a lot of the security guards that night about what positions they can work and how they got to go to a lot of these concerts and any sporting events in Minneapolis,” he shared. “That sounded so cool to me, so I got a job with a Minneapolis security company to work all of these concerts and events.” If someone had done a proper background check on this young man, including his social media presence, they could have found that he wanted to work these positions for the sole purpose of getting close to her. That proper check could have saved the security company from the scrutiny of negative media attention.
  • Preventing Internal Threats: Think for a minute about that security guard who is placed to work in a financial institution, IT company, or healthcare provider, and the information that they have potential access to as they are patrolling the offices. Thorough background checks can help identify individuals who might pose an internal threat to the organization or its clients, such as those with a history of theft, fraud, or violence.
  • Client Assurance: Corporate entities, educational institutions, and private families entrust security companies with their safety and assets. Demonstrating that all employees have passed thorough background checks can be a significant factor in winning and retaining client trust and business. And it is guaranteed to be what separates you from the other companies.
  • Creating a Safe Workplace: Conducting background checks promotes a safer workplace environment. It reassures other surrounding employees that their colleagues have been vetted and deemed reliable and safe to work with. As a security provider, you not only have a duty to protect your clients and their customers but also to protect your employees and make sure you do not place them in jeopardy by putting them to work alongside questionable individuals.

Now, we know that background checks are time-consuming and most of the time involve costs, however, they can save you money in the long run by reducing the likelihood of hiring individuals who may cause a negative reputation, harm, or damage. These all lead to legal issues, the critical need for rehiring, or the unfortunate effect of losing a contract(s). Background checks are a vital tool for your security company and can directly impact the safety, efficacy, and reputation of your services.

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