Security Journal

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 385–399 | Cite as

Security officers’ attitudes towards training and their work environment

  • Jennifer E CobbinaEmail author
  • Mahesh K Nalla
  • Kimberly A Bender
Original Article


A body of research has examined the nature of security work, legislative efforts and training requirements. Fewer studies, however, have explored security officers’ perceptions of the training they received to perform their duties effectively. Although effort has been made to explore how useful the extant of training regime is for security officers in Canada (Manzo, 2009), it is unclear whether such views would hold among security officers in the United States, as both countries have minimal standard requirements regarding training. Building from Manzo’s (2009) research, we use in-depth interviews with 19 US security officers to explore security officers’ perceptions of training and what, if any, additional training security officers perceive that they need to perform their job effectively. Similar to Manzo’s work, we found that some of the officers improvise the needs and demands of their jobs with experiences drawn from prior employment; however, unlike Manzo’s study, security officers perceived a lack of adequate training to perform their tasks effectively and strongly endorsed the importance of and need for systematic and standardized training.


security policing training perceptions 


  1. Abbott, J.L. and Geddie, M.W. (2001) Event and venue management: Minimizing liability through effective crowd management techniques. Event Management 6 (4): 259–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alain, M. and Crête, C. (2009) Continuous training as a subject of negotiations in public and private policing: Managing security expertise in a changing environment – an exploratory study. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management 32 (1): 75–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arthur, W., Bennett, W., Edens, P.S. and Bell, S.T. (2003) Effectiveness of training in organizations: A meta-analysis of design and evaluation features. Journal of Applied Psychology 88 (2): 234–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyer, J.M. and Hannah, D.R. (2002) Building on the past: Enacting established personal identities in a new work setting. Organization Science 13 (6): 636–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brough, M. and Brown, D. (1989) Every Retailer’s Guide to Loss Prevention. North Vancouver, British Columbia: Self-Counsel Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, C., Reich, M. and Stern, D. (1993) Becoming a high-performance work organization: The role of security, employee involvement and training. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 4 (2): 247–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Button, M. (2002) Private Policing. Portland, OR: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Button, M. (2007) Assessing the regulation of private security across Europe. European Journal of Criminology 4 (1): 109–– 128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Button, M. (2008) Doing Security: Critical Reflections and an Agenda for Change. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Button, M. and George, B. (2006) Regulation of security: New models for analysis. In: M. Gill (ed.) Handbook of Security. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 563–585.Google Scholar
  11. Charmaz, K. (2006) Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Cunningham, W., Strauchs, J. and Van Meter, C. (1990) The Hallcrest Report II: Private, Security Trends 1970–2000. Boston, MA: Butterworth.Google Scholar
  13. Dick, W. (1993) Quality in training organizations. Performance Improvement Quarterly 6 (3): 35–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dokko, G., Wilk, S.L. and Rothbard, N.P. (2009) Unpacking prior experience: How career history affects job performance. Organization Science 20 (1): 51–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Freedonia. (2012) World security services to 2014 – Market research, market share, market size, sales, demand forecast, market leaders, company profiles, industry #: 2711., accessed 23 November 2012.
  16. George, B. and Button, M. (1997) Private security industry regulation: Lessons from abroad for the United Kingdom. International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention 2 (3): 187–200.Google Scholar
  17. Gill, M. (2004) Uniformed Retail Security Officers. Leicester, UK: Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International.Google Scholar
  18. Goldstein, I.L. (1993) Training in Organizations: Needs Assessment, Development, and Evaluation. 3rd edn. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Hemmens, C., Maahs, J., Scarborough, K.E. and Collins, P.A. (2001) Watching the watchmen: State regulation of private security 1982-1998. Security Journal 14 (4): 17–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hyde, D. (2003) The role of ‘government’ in regulating, auditing and facilitating private policing in late modernity: The Canadian experience. Paper presented to the In Search of Security Conference; Montreal, Quebec, February.Google Scholar
  21. Jaksa, J.J. (2004) Is the guard trained or not? The attempt to legislate security guard training in Michigan. Security Journal 17 (4): 67–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones, T. and Newburn, T. (1998) Private Security and Public Policing. Oxford, UK: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  23. Lewis, C. and Wood, J. (2006) The governance of policing and security. In: J. Fleming and J. Wood (eds.) Fighting Crime Together. Sydney, Australia: UNSW, pp. 218–245.Google Scholar
  24. Lim, S.L.S. and Nalla, M.K. (2011) Attitudes of private security officers in Singapore towards their work environment. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Asian Society of Criminology; 16–19 December, Taipei, Taiwan.Google Scholar
  25. Maahs, J.R. and Hemmens, C. (1998) Guarding the public: A statutory analysis of state regulation of security guards. Journal of Crime and Justice 21 (1): 119–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Manzo, J. (2009) Security officers' perspectives on training. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 51 (3): 381–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Manzo, J. (2010) How private security officers perceive themselves relative to police. Security Journal 23 (3): 192–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marx, G.T. (1987) The interweaving of public and private police in undercover work. In: C.D. Shearing and P.C. Stenning (eds.) Private Policing. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, pp. 172–193.Google Scholar
  29. Micucci, A. (1998) A typology of private policing operational styles. Journal of Criminal Justice 26 (1): 41–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nalla, M.K. (2001) Designing an introductory survey course in private security. Journal of Criminal Justice Education 12 (1): 35–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nalla, M.K. and Heraux, C. (2003) Assessing goals and functions of private police. Journal of Criminal Justice 31 (3): 237–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nalla, M.K. and Hoffman, V.J. (1996) Security training needs: A study of the perceptions of security guards in Singapore. Security Journal 7 (4): 287–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nalla, M.K. and Hummer, D. (1999) Assessing strategies for improving law enforcement/security relationships: Implications for community policing. Internationa. Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice 23 (2): 227–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nalla, M.K. and Hwang, E. (2004) Assessing professionalism, goals, images, and nature of private security in South Korea. Asian Policing 2 (1): 104–21.Google Scholar
  35. Nalla, M.K. and Lim, S.S. (2003) Students’ perceptions of private police in Singapore. Asian Policing 1 (1): 27–47.Google Scholar
  36. Nalla, M.K. and Newman, G. (1990) A Primer in Private Security. New York: Harrow and Heston.Google Scholar
  37. Nalla, M.K., Ommi, K. and Murthy, V.S. (2013) Nature of work, safety, and trust in private security in India: A study of citizen perceptions of security guards. In: N. Prabha Unnithan (ed.) Crime and Justice in India. New Delhi: Sage, pp. 226–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. O’Connor, D., Lippert, R., Greenfield, K. and Boyle, P. (2004) After the ‘quiet revolution’: The self regulation of Ontario contract security agencies. Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy 14 (2): 138–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Parfomak, P.W. (2004) Guarding America: Security guards and US critical infrastructure protection. Washington: Congressional Research Service,, accessed 21 January 2013.
  40. Prenzler, T. (2005) Mapping the Australian security industry. Security Journal 18 (4): 51–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Prenzler, T. and Hayes, H. (1999) An evaluation of the Queensland Security Providers Act: Implications for national regulation of the protective security industry. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 32 (1): 79–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Prenzler, T. and Sarre, R. (1999) A survey of security legislation and regulatory strategies in Australia. Security Journal 12 (3): 7–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Private Security Advisory Council. (1976) A Report on the Regulation of Private Guard Services Including a Model Private Security Licensing and Regulatory Statue. Washington DC: US Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  44. Rigakos, G.S. (2002) The New Parapolice: Risk Markets and Commodified Social Control. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Robert H. Perry & Associates. (2012) White paper on the U.S. contract security industry,, accessed 21 January 2013.
  46. Sarre, R. and Prenzler, T. (1999) The regulation of private policing: Reviewing mechanisms of accountability. Crime Prevention & Community Safety 1 (3): 17–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shearing, C. (1992) The relation between public and private policing. In: M. Tonry and N. Morris (eds.) Modern Policing. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  48. Shearing, C.D., Farnell, M.B. and Stenning, P.C. (1980) Contract security in Ontario. Toronto, Canada: Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  49. Shearing, C.D. and Stenning, P.C. (1981) Modern private security: Its growth and implications. In: M. Tonry and N. Morris (eds.) Crime and Justice. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  50. Shearing, C.D. and Stenning, P.C. (1983) Private security: Implications for social control. Social Problems 30 (5): 493–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stenning, P.C. (2000) Powers and accountability of private police. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 8 (3): 325–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2010) Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–2011. Washington DC: Government Printing Press.Google Scholar
  53. Wakefield, A. (2003) Selling Security: The Private Policing of Public Space. Portland, OR: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  54. Wakefield, A. (2006) The security officer. In: M. Gill (ed.) The Handbook of Security. New York: Macmillan, pp. 383–407.Google Scholar
  55. White, A. (2010) The potential impact of national-level or EU-level regulation on PMSC activities,
  56. Wilson, J. (1968) Varieties of Police Behavior: The Management of Law and Order in Eight Communities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Wood, J. and Shearing, C. (2007) Imagining Security. Cullompton, UK: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer E Cobbina
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mahesh K Nalla
    • 1
  • Kimberly A Bender
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations