NOT WORTH THE RISK
Security gurus believe lack of training, tech making heists easy
As Sunday’s multimillion-dollar armed robbery continues to send shockwaves throughout the country, a number of security guards have indicated that they are considering ditching the profession, citing inadequate training and resources as they argued...
As Sunday’s multimillion-dollar armed robbery continues to send shockwaves throughout the country, a number of security guards have indicated that they are considering ditching the profession, citing inadequate training and resources as they argued that the low wages and limited benefits are not worth the risk.
The security guards who are employed to three different companies all agreed on Monday that their training was lacking. Speaking with The Gleaner on condition of anonymity out of fear of victimisation, they admitted that they were not well versed in operational tactics.
“There is no training manual at my company. They will bring in ex-police and ex-soldiers and put them to work to avoid having to invest in training. Apart from firearm training that is conducted by the ex-officers, there is no emphasis on strategies and how to transport money to banks and ATMs,” one of the guards said, a point that was also echoed by the others.
“They don’t want give us good weapons and good pay. They know what we have to face out there. They don’t provide tactical training for us. We are often left to improvise as we go along,” said another, who admitted that he and some of his colleagues are seriously contemplating handing in their resignation in light of the most recent attacks.
Another guard, who works for one of the smaller companies, expressed concern that because he is employed on a contractual basis, his life insurance plan has to be financed personally without any assistance from the company.
About 12:40 p.m. on Sunday, armed robbers attacked a Beryllium crew in the process of servicing an ATM in Portmore, St Catherine, injuring at least four persons as they made off with millions in cash. The attack took place less than 200 metres from where two Beryllium guards were shot while performing a similar function three weeks ago. One guard died in that encounter and an estimated $10 million stolen.
Two cars believed to have been used by the robbers to flee the location on Sunday were later discovered abandoned.
On Monday, the police said they were making headway with the probe into Sunday’s incident with the suspects already identified.
On Sunday, George Overton, president of the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security (JSIS), told The Gleaner that no amount of planning could have prevented the attack, which resulted in a disruption in cash delivery and ATM replenishing services across the island on Monday.
“It is clear that the attack was carried out by vicious and brutal men with a tactical level of precision. They used the same methodology as the previous attack. Their objectives were clear, and they were prepared,” he said.
But retired Senior Superintendent of Police Reneto Adams does not believe many security guards performing cash-in-transit duties are adequately trained physically psychologically, and strategically.
Adams, who has operated a private security company since he retired from the police force in 2008 after more than three decades of service, said that from what he has seen in videos circulating, the criminals in Sunday’s attack used the element of surprise.
He said that the criminals seemed to know that some guards are poorly armed and would not be able to put up much resistance if challenged.
“The [idea] that the criminals are getting more sophisticated is not correct. There are a lot of factors militating against the guards – lack of training and the overall security of the country among them,” Adams told The Gleaner.
He questioned the effectiveness of the police, noting that the robbers were able to carry out such an attack and find it easy to drive away and abandoned the vehicles without being caught.
“The failure of successive administrations to apply sufficient strategic security management for businesses and persons doing businesses in public spaces is contributing to these kinds of attacks,” he added.
Adams also believes security companies providing cash-in-transit services can do more to safeguard the money.
“What they should be doing is using a vessel made in such a way to ensure that it cannot be easily carted away to carry the money from the vehicle to the ATM, it should not be carried by hand to give easy access to the robbers to grab the money and leave,” he suggested.
Security expert Mark Shields also lamented Sunday’s brazen robbery, suggesting that companies can do more to safeguard their operations.
“Another armed robbery in Portmore. Another attack putting the lives of the security guards and members of the public at risk. Prevention is way more effective and less costly than detection. Measures to stop this type of crime are available and need to be implemented,” he tweeted on Sunday.
“With all due respect, it is a lot cheaper than the lives of security guards and innocent passers-by who get caught in the crossfire,” he added. “This is NOT an expensive solution and needs to be a condition of contract for a security company to get a cash-in-transit contract NOW.
“To put it simpler terms, no dye pack, no security contract,” Shields added, noting that dye packs, which are radio-controlled devices used to foil robbery by causing stolen cash to be permanently marked with dye, can also be considered.
The issue of training for security guards carrying out certain functions has been in the spotlight after the two recent attacks in Portmore, with some business interests and a senior police officer calling for a review of the regulatory framework that govern private security companies and their operational strategies.
Rick Harris, chairman of the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA), has dismissed suggestions that the industry needs stricter regulations.
He told The Gleaner that the level of regulation now in place for private security companies is sufficient, but admitted that there is always need for improvements.
“What we don’t want is over-regulation. We don’t want to get granular or too prescriptive. We support any initiatives and the capabilities of security guards carrying out their duties, and the PSRA will support any provisions which allow the companies to properly deliver the services for which they have been contracted,” Harris said.
“At a policy level, what this means is that the Ministry of National Security will interact with stakeholders and the PSRA will supply the kind of information necessary to the policy development arm of the ministry, so that considerations will be given to what actions to be taken,” he added.