After 9/11, people have become familiar with weapons security implemented using walk through body scanners and handheld metal detectors at airports and large gathering places, like sports arenas. Further, the spate of mass shootings at churches, clubs, and schools across the country has made everyone painfully aware of the necessity of weapons security in social gathering places. This includes places where the majority of occupants are not even of legal age for carrying firearms. All indications are that the threats to society from armed and dangerous individuals will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
There are two major components of security threats from weapons. They are:
- The weapons themselves: It is crucial to detect them at the earliest possible moment. This can be accomplished with metal detectors since all weapons and explosives have a substantial metal component.
- Human Element: Trouble makers often can be discerned by reading facial expressions, eye movements, and body postures. Though automated facial expression reading systems can provide clues, they are far from perfect. Security experts are much better at it than computers and they can also read body postures and eye movements which automated systems cannot, at least for now.
Weapons security is complete only when both these components are under control. The important questions to be addressed are:
- What kinds of weapons security measures are necessary?
- Are metal detectors adequate?
- Is it possible to have a satisfactory security system without security professionals are relevant?
Weapons Security Measures
The first step to proper weapons security is detection. Gone are the days when luggage had to be hand searched and people were patted down for firearms and explosives. These tasks have been greatly automated with the help of:
- X-ray machines for screening bags, and,
- Metal detectors for body scanning people with safe levels of electromagnetic fields.
X-ray machines can greatly reduce the number of bags that require hand searching but human intervention is still necessary when the machines flag the presence of potential weapons. X-ray machines are also not infallible. They can issue false positives when firearms shaped toys are present, for example. Even worse, they are also susceptible to false negatives when they fail to detect cleverly disguised or disassembled weapons inside bags. It is necessary to have well-trained security personnel working alongside X-ray machines for triaging false positives and false negatives.
Just like X-ray machines for screening bags, walk through metal detectors have speeded up scanning people. Metal detectors can quickly sense metals with great accuracy. So they are very effective for detecting firearms. Even when false positives are triggered by coins, jewelry, etc., security personnel can quickly check for firearms with a handheld metal detector that requires minimal to no physical contact with the person being scanned.
Are Metal Detectors Adequate for Providing Weapons Security?
In addition to metal detectors, there are a few other measures that security personnel can use for preventing weapons from entering secure areas.
- Clear bags only policy/No bags policy: Airlines use the clear bags policy for ensuring passengers carry only permissible amounts of toiletries on to airplanes. Public places like malls, government offices, and sports arenas often use no bags policies to easily eliminate a source of firearms and explosives. These policies cannot be enforced without human operators.
- Pre-sweep premises: It is necessary to sanitize a venue before securing its boundaries with clear bags only or no bags policies and metal detectors. This operation requires well-trained security personnel for proper execution.
- Crowd control: This is a crucial part of events security for not only controlling the queues at security checkpoints but also for identifying and questioning attendees exhibiting suspicious behavior. Examples of suspicious behaviors are:
- Steady observation of securing personnel,
- Constant surveillance of the premises, and,
- Lack of interest in the event itself.
Note that observing attendees for suspicious behaviors and the subsequent remedial actions like interrogation and removal from the premises can be done only by security experts rather than machines and robots.
Security Personnel and Weapons Security
It is possible that sometime in the future, just about all weapons security chores are handled by machines that can perfectly detect weapons and security robots that can analyze human facial expressions. Even if that were possible, a few security experts will still be necessary to set up the operation and handle glitches. But today, it is not possible to have tight security without professional involvement at every stage of the operation. Currently, machines make the security personnel’s work easy but humans are indispensable.
Since weapons security is literally a matter of life and death, it is not wise to cut corners by hiring amateurs. You want to have the best in class, seasoned professionals who are current on the latest technologies, practices, training and the legal framework as well. There are several categories for security professionals that match specific requirements. These are:
- Off duty and retired law enforcement personnel: They are well versed in the latest security techniques and legal constraints. They are usually armed and perform well under stress.
- Trained security guards: These trained professionals can bring order and control to public and private meeting places and events. Often their mere presence is enough to discourage trouble makers. Some security guards who are licensed and trained to carry and operate firearms are helpful in deescalating dangerous situations.
- Bodyguards, aka, dignitary protection agents: They ensure the physical safety of VIPs and wealthy people at home and on the road. Since it is well trained in protecting government officials, the police force is an excellent source for dignitary protection agents.
SMART Security Pros is a leader in bringing cutting edge security technology and seasoned security experts to ensure the safety of their clients and their premises. We cater to the security needs of industries, event organizers, VIPs, and dignitaries. Led by a veteran of law enforcement with over 25 years of experience in both public and private sector security services, SMART Security Pros also excel at providing great customer service to our clients. We can provide off-duty, retired, and prior police as armed security agents for site security and people protection.