While audiences loved “Mall Cop” and likely will line up to see the upcoming “Observe and Report” starring Seth Rogen, real-world contract security companies who serve malls see more fiction than fact in these comic portrayals.
How does the reality of life as a retail security officer compare with what is depicted in these comedies?
As a vice president for AlliedBarton Security Services, America’s leading physical security company, which works with many of our country’s leading shopping centers and malls, we oversee thousands of hardworking retail security officers.
I believe that their commitment to their jobs and the people they serve deserves our applause and respect.
These movies provide lighthearted fun and entertainment, but in no way personify the real world of mall security officers on the job.
These hardworking, highly trained men and women are our country’s first responders who have a wide range of skills – from the sensitivity to deal with lost children to the ability to respond to and effectively address criminal activity.
Security officers often are put in high-risk situations as they confront and detain criminals engaged in theft, trespassing, gang activity and every other manner of unlawful behavior that occurs where thousands of consumers congregate on a daily basis.
While “(Paul Blart:) Mall Cop” and “Observe and Report” portray security officers as “wannabe” police officers, real world security officers work in partnership with local law enforcement, with some security officers having previously served in law enforcement and military positions.
In the shopping center sector, physical security requirements are continually evolving and require security professionals who can meet the seemingly incessant bombardment of unexpected challenges.
The current state of the economy and the pressures it places in the retail workplace demands that a vigilant security team is in place.
Today’s retail security teams engage in ongoing, comprehensive employee training and enhanced security protocol to ensure that the worst-case scenarios are prevented and that a pleasant and safe shopping experience can be had by law-abiding consumers.
There is an emotional benefit for property owners who invest in securing their premises. Customers, employees and visitors are comforted by seeing security personnel, along with integrated video monitoring, on the job.
Keeping shoppers safe and secure during volatile economic times requires a partnership between security providers, the property owners and managers, and the communities served.
Next time your path crosses with a security officer at your local mall, consider thanking him or her for keeping your shopping environment safe and secure.
While Hollywood continues to paint security officers as comedic caricatures with delusions of grandeur for entertainment purposes, real world shoppers find comfort and satisfaction in knowing that trained security professionals are on the job and watching out for their safety.
Thomas C. Walton is a vice president for AlliedBarton Security Services and is responsible for the development of shopping center services nationwide. E-mail: Thomas.Walton@alliedbarton.com