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Bank Security Officer Training

Can you imagine receiving emergency treatment from a doctor who has never been to medical school? Would you go to a dentist who has had no formal training? Would it be a wise decision to allow an attorney to represent you who has never taken (or passed) a state bar exam? Do you want a law enforcement officer who has had never attended a police academy to respond to your robbery-in-progress?

We rightfully expect professionals to acquire the education, training and experience that leads to competence in their chosen fields-and we hold these professionals to a higher standard of behavior, values, morals and ethics than the rest of the population's.

We don't expect these professionals to be selected arbitrarily - simply because they were available when an opening occurred; to be trained poorly - if at all; to be under-funded and under-equipped; or to receive little guidance, direction and support from management - increasing risks to themselves and to their institutions.

Then Why A Security Officer?
Why, then, do some institutions allow a lesser standard of professionalism for that one person who by regulation and appointment has been given the awesome and liability-riddled responsibility for protecting the institution's employees, customers, facilities, assets and records?

None of the five regulatory agencies require that a person filling the Security Officer's role must be trained to do so! Not even the Bank Protection Act addresses the issue. Field examiners can require that an unskilled Security Officer must receive some specific training when the examiners conduct safety and soundness exams, but there currently are no standards - local or national - for training Security Officers.

Today's Bank Security Officer faces challenges that he/she didn't have to deal with less than five years ago - and the potential liability to the board of directors and to the employee it selects as the Security Officer is extreme.

And yet some Security Officers acquire this job by default-nobody else wants it! And it just shouldn't be this way.

Bank security isn't just about alarms, robberies and opening procedures. Security Officers are responsible for preventing losses from any source; for investigating policy and procedural violations, and crimes; for protecting the institution's people, places and things; and for safeguarding the institution's image.

When your bank's reputation and your employees' careers may be at stake and lives may hang in the balance, who do you want making the critical decisions - a person who's available or a person who's been trained?

The Security Officer - part-time or full-time - should learn as much as possible about the responsibilities and liabilities involved with the position. And as crime, regulations, circumstances and technology change, that officer has to stay up to date by continuing to learn-from experts and from other security officers. It's one of the reasons BANKERS' HOTLINE runs a workshop each year (May 7 & 8). And this year has added a new all day pre-workshop session (May 6) for brand new security officers who need to learn the basics of their job.

Security officers are, for the most part, encouraged and supported by administrations that realize the benefits of a well trained security department. By working with and standing behind the security officer, the financial institution can reduce losses and liability while increasing the safety and well-being of the entire organization.

It becomes a win-win situation.

Copyright © 1997 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2/97

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