Courtesy Officer vs. Security Guard
Is there a difference between a uniformed security guard and a courtesy officer on an apartment property? The name obviously…but their function is often identical. It seems that some apartment managers believe that calling a uniformed security guard a “courtesy officer” somehow reduces their exposure to civil liability. This belief can’t be farther from the truth. The old saying applies here, If it looks like a duck, quacks like at duck, and walks like a duck…it’s probably a duck. Call them what you will, but know that it’s the security guard uniform and conduct that will define their true job function.
In practical terms, the primary difference between the two is that the contract security guard is employed by the contractor and not by you. The in-house courtesy officer is an employee of the property management company and usually lives on the premises. The courtesy officer may not be in traditional uniform and may only wear a logo shirt. There are advantages and disadvantages of both types. The biggest advantage of a courtesy officer over the contract worker is the ability to have them live on-site and get to know the property and residents better. Most carry a pager and can respond quickly. Many courtesy officers offer superior service and become very loyal to the property they protect.
Many courtesy officers are off-duty police officers, and with them come superior training and experience. However, don’t assume that off-duty police officers know how to provide adequate security to an apartment property. Apartment security isn’t taught at the police academy. Also, remember that off-duty police officers may be tired and may not want to wear another uniform or do a lot of foot patrol. However, many courtesy officers are mere civilians and can have the disadvantage of a lack of professional security or police training. Obviously, the training problem can be overcome with a little effort.
Reprinted with thanks and permission of Chris E. McGoey. Mr. McGoey may be reached at (951) 461-8950 or by visiting www.crimedoctor.com This article may not be copied or republished without the consent of the author.