Despite the gravity of what security personnel potentially face each and every day, popular culture delights in depicting them in a comical light. Reality shows and films provide light-hearted fun and entertainment, but in no way personify the real world of security officers on the job.

Addressing negative stereotypes and working to change perception is important. This is why I shudder when security personnel are labeled as “guards.” The word “guard” does not convey the level of respect, professionalism and training necessitated of today’s security professionals. Abandoning verbiage that highlights the use of the word “guard” moves the entire security industry forward and reinforces the important reality that security officers protect people, property and assets and deserve our applause and respect.

The rapid rise of this sector demands a dramatic shift in public perception about this critically important job. As the security officer sector is growing rapidly, the need for our country’s officers to be comprehensively trained and respected is vital.

These hard-working, highly trained men and women are our country’s first responders who have a wide range of skills – from the sensitivity to deal with lost children to the ability to respond to and effectively address criminal activity. Security officers are often put in high-risk situations as they confront and detain criminals engaged in theft, trespassing, gang activity and other unlawful behavior.

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