• James Cameron

The ones you hire to protect you are more than likely the first ones to rob you.


As we have seen another person has been shot and killed, however this time it was done by a “security officer". Warning this is a long read but I hope you find it worth it.

If you are unaware of the story during a “Patriot Rally” in Denver Matthew Dolloff (unlicensed security guard performing security services) shot and killed Lee Keltner during a confrontation. You can google the story for more details.

The point of my post is to highlight missteps that potentially led to this situation. As a security company owner, I see the potential for these situations all the time thus there are lessons to be learned. This post should service all aspects of hired security: Those who hire security companies, those who subcontract out security work and those who are hired to actually perform the security (the boots on the ground).

Providing security services is challenging, not impossible, but challenging. Jobs come in often at the very last moment leaving individuals to scurry to find people to fill the positions. Join any number of security related groups on social media and you will find job announcements almost daily. Which is problem number one. If jobs are being filled last minute and or via social media here are some questions that should be, but are rarely addressed or asked:

  • How is the person to be hired being vetted, is there an interview process? Or is simply replying to a post and having a resume good enough? (often if you are breathing and you're located where needed you're qualified)

  • Are the proper and current licensing requirements met and verified for both the hiring security company and the person performing the duties?

  • Are background checks being done and completed? It is laughable how often background checks aren’t being done.

  • Does the hiring security company check social media pages of those they intend to hire?

  • What current training does the security guard being hired have such as use of lethal force, use of less than lethal force, crowd control etc.?

  • Are rules of engagement gone over and understood (especially if armed)? Do they know and understand the "use of force continuum"?

  • Are there POST orders given to the individuals being hired? Has the security company made the duties clear and understandable?

  • Does the hiring company have the proper and current licenses and insurance?

  • Are the hiring security company hiring individuals via W2 or are they 1099ing the person performing the security? In most states hiring someone by 1099 is illegal unless the person being hired is a licensed entity and has the proper business insurance as well.

  • What are the client expectations verses realities?

  • Is the person or company doing the hiring reputable and verifiable?

  • If using armed law enforcement or former law enforcement do they have the proper armed guard credentials? Hint Having a H.R. 218 is not a legal authorization to provide armed security services.

To those companies who hire security. What is not commonly understood is that if you hire a large security company (G4S, Pinkerton, Allied United etc.) for a short-term protection requirement they (the security company) are more than likely going to sub-contact the work to another vendor. As NBC news is finding out in Denver, they hired Pinkerton however Pinkerton subcontracted that out to another firm and had no management, oversight, knowledge or visibility of the person doing the actual security. In other words the client is not getting what they are expecting.

There is another dirty little secret about subcontracting. For ease of explanation let’s use the current situation. The client (NBC 9 News) hired Pinkerton to perform security services at a bill rate of $100 an hour (disclaimer I have no idea what the bill rate was I am simply using $100 as a nice easy round number to demonstrate my point). Its fair for the client to believe they would be getting a security professional that is worthy of the bill rate.

Scenario 1 What really happens is Pinkerton takes that $100 and when they sub it out only offer the sub-contracting company a bill rate of $60-70 an hour keeping $30-40 an hour as profit. The subcontract company needs to cover operating expense and make a profit, so they hire a person at $25-35 max $45 an hour. This means that the lion share of the hourly billable rate that the client is paying for doesn’t result in a quality protection professional rather what they get is maybe an above average security guard. All that said that’s the best-case scenario…


Scenario 2

Another scenario is that Pinkerton contacts someone who they utilize to find suitable companies to sub-contract to. They in turn take a piece of the billable rate. So now the original bill rate of $100 minus $30 for Pinkerton minus $10 for the person finding the company to sub to minus $25 for the sub’s operating cost and profit, results in a person being paid $35 an hour.

Scenario 3 Worst case scenario is it doesn’t get sub-contracted to a company it goes directly to an individual who does not have the proper licensing, nor do they carry any type of liability insurance.

These scenarios are all based on an original bill rate of $100 which is rare. Just imagine the quality when the bill rate is less than that….

The truth is with security giants like Pinkerton they deal with sustained hourly rate contracts such as Mall Security, Banking Security, Building Security etc. These are long term contracts with 10’s of thousands of billable hours a month so their profit margin can be smaller. Short term contracts are not worth their time or effort and that is why they subcontract it out. Great for Pinkerton since they assume no liability or risk (so they think) and bad for the clients who hire them, perfect example is NBC 9 News.

I have always told my clients and many potential clients:

“The ones you hire to protect you are more than likely the first ones to rob you”

Sadly these scenarios happen daily. Key take away, do your due diligence on those you hire and those who are hiring you. Know what questions to ask and what answers you should be receiving.