Armed vs. Unarmed Guards: How Do You Choose?
It’s a common misperception that armed guards are automatically more effective because they carry weapons. But you might be surprised to realize that, more often than you’d think, unarmed guards make more sense and can deliver more bang for your buck – metaphorically speaking, of course.
First things first: Why do you need a security guard?
Maybe you have a surveillance system in place and need additional security. Maybe you’re responsible for short-term event or trade show security. Maybe your job has faced unexpected security risks in recent days and you’re looking for a budget-friendly on-site security option for the first time and not sure what to choose.
More critical questions:
Understand that choosing armed security should be done with extreme caution. Ask yourself these questions before choosing between armed and unarmed guards:
- Is potentially deadly force really needed?
- What is the likelihood of needing to apprehend armed and dangerous subjects?
If the likelihood of needing lethal weapons is slim to none, unarmed guards might be a better option. If you’re still not sure, or are unaware of the risks of hiring armed security, keep reading.
There are several reasons why unarmed security guards might be a smarter choice.
4 Good Reasons to Choose Unarmed Guards
Whatever your situation, if you’re considering hiring a security guard but can’t tell yet whether you should go with armed security officers or unarmed guards, we can help. Take a look at the following rationale and see if it helps you decide what’s appropriate for your unique situation.
1. You Face Low-Security Threat
Unless you’re facing very high-risk threats like armed robbery, violent conflict and such, armed security guards might be more security than you need. Many businesses and events face low security risks and can benefit from simply employing unarmed guards.
Situations that generally constitute a low-security threat level include:
- Traffic control
- Entry access
- General surveillance
- Retail loss prevention
- Corporate security settings
For most of these scenarios on any given day, an unarmed security officer will fulfill your need for enhanced order and safety more than adequately.
2. You’re on a Tight Budget
In most cases, unarmed guards can deliver equivalent protection for you and your business for a much lower cost upfront.
Hiring unarmed guards can save you money, whereas armed guards cost significantly more and can put a difficult strain on your budget. This is due to several factors, including added training, licensing, insurance, and on-the-job risks.
According to data from Thumbtack.com, the hourly rate for security guard services can range as low as $15.00 for a basic unarmed guard up to $60-$100+ for law-enforcement trained armed guards. While this may not reflect accurate pricing for your needs in your area, it does go to show just how much you stand to save by choosing unarmed security.
If you’re worried about sacrificing quality for cost, worry no more.
There’s no need to think that unarmed guards won’t perform as well. The truth is that unarmed guards must go through rigorous training and satisfy licensing requirements before employment. Your professional unarmed security guard will be able to help you effectively achieve improved security in low-risk situations without the added cost and complications of armed guards.
3. You Need to Minimize Liability
There are risks inherent with taking on lethal force. If you or your company have a low tolerance for liability and are not prepared to deal with the fallout of an incident using lethal force, it’s probably best to avoid armed security guards.
When you hire armed guards, you assume responsibility for If someone were to get injured or killed at the site you’re protecting as a result of your hired armed guard. In such an event, you would be held liable for the victim’s injury or death as well as related legal fees and settlements. This can be a devastating blow financially, emotionally and for your business’s reputation.
If it’s not needed, keeping lethal force away from your site can actually protect your business or event and give you increased peace of mind. If the situation arises where force is needed, your security guard will be able to call on your local law enforcement officers to handle it.
4. You’re In a Gun-Sensitive Environment
You want a security guard to enhance safety, but you might not have realized an armed guard can have the opposite effect.
The appearance of firearms can be very unsettling to some, especially with the prevalence of recent shootings in the U.S.and tensions regarding gun laws.
Although an armed guard’s purpose is increased safety, just the sight of a gun can put people on edge and cause more upset than is otherwise necessary. Examples of places you might want to avoid a display of firearms include schools or other areas where there may be children, theaters, libraries, and corporate workplaces.
Unarmed guards can be as effective as armed guards.
The bottom line: For deterring crime and increasing security, unarmed professional security guards are as effective as armed officers.
Think of it this way: If a would-be criminal sees a security guard, a) they don’t know if that guard is armed, and b) they likely won’t stick around to find out.
Anyone out to burglarize, vandalize, or trespass on your property is primarily concerned with not getting caught – they won’t risk being found out just to test whether or not your guard has a gun!
Hire armed guards if necessary. Don’t compromise a high-risk site. But, if you’re not facing high-risk levels – if you’re looking for crime prevention, perimeter security, access control, etc. – an unarmed guard is probably the right choice for you.
Trust SMART Security Pros professional security solutions for every need.
Whether you need unarmed or armed guards, video surveillance, or corporate security training, the law-enforcement trained professionals at SMART Security Pros has you covered. Our security services are available in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Southern Pennsylvania, and more.