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Security Guards: Low on Intelligence

One way in which security guards can be of help
(image source: Africom's Flickr stream
http://www.flickr.com/photos/africom/)
Lately, I have had no less than 2 run ins with various security guards, in which an opportunity to provide intelligence turned out to be a pointer on its startling absence. In the same period, I have had a run in with only one matatu conductor, but circumstances were a bit different here. So do we conclude that matatu conductors are brighter than security guards, be they from KK tasked with the American embassy, or any other guard?

Do not get me wrong on security guards, or watchmen, or "solja" as sometimes we prefer to call them. These guys are still of great importance when it comes to finding out where the hell on Parklands Road that Centre Point is. At such times, Google Maps tends to think that being on Parklands Roads, you must be looking for some Centre in Germany.

While your watchman might have an idea on what is down the road, these guys are usually clueless as to what is where in the building that they are employed to guard manage.


Take this KK high level manager at the Hotel Intercontinental ,on a recent Tuesday. I was there for some cocktail event where the ICT board was hosting some Indian investors. Actually, the cocktail was just a cover, as I was supposed to interview no less than two of the investors before the clock struck 9 pm.

The Intercontinental usually has this board that shows ongoing events, and the venue inside the hotel. The event I was looking for was not on the board, and so I consulted the nearest hotel staff, who unfortunately  turned out to be the KK security guard, or rather a supervisor of the other guards posted in the hotels.

The bald headed KK guard told me to consult the board, to which I replied that I had already done , fruitlessly. The guard's eyes then widened as he eyed me , head to toe and back. I was not in a suit, my shoes were dusty and I had a backpack, well worn from lugging around a heavy Compaq Laptop amongst other electronics.

The guard instructed me to call the ICT board. I only had Kaburo's phone number, and she was not aware of the finer logistics of the event as she was planning some other event on the same evening. I told the guard that that was of no help either.

The guard then summarised that he had identified a gatecrasher and instructed me to remain on the spot as he confirmed whether there was such an event. The guard dashed off in the direction of the kitchen area, reappeared a while later and disappeared in the direction of the business centre.

After several appearances and reappearances of the fellow, I asked him if I could just confirm where the event was, the guard replied no. He asked if I had ever been at the Intercontinental before. I had been there many times before and we had even hosted some recent event in one of the rooms. I was surprised when he asked for dates which I had been there, not that I could remember exact dates.

I had been standing there for more than five minutes, and I was losing my temper. I finally told the guy that I was going in to find out where the event was. He said I couldn't. I asked what he was going to do to me if I did, "grab me by my worn shirt and throw me out?" . I knew that the guy would be careful about making a physical scuffle in front of high profile (and white) guests.

He followed and tried calling after me as I made true the threat to find out by myself. I approached the first hotel employee I found, who happened to know that the event was taking place at the pool deck, mind you that the guy had been at the spot all the time that the KK guard was "looking" for the event.

A senior KK employee, tasked with overall security of the event, has no idea of what events are going on in the hotel. He operates with a mentality that the board lists all the events that the hotel is running. The same employee identifies threats as those young guys who approach him to ask questions - all gate crashers will ask him a question or two, and gotcha, he will have them.

I do not blame him, intelligent people are difficult to hire, their salaries are competitive , they are easily poached and they tend to be unpredictable.

The solution is to hire some muscular guy and instruct them on how to identify threats and how to handle them. Guards are usually in the strictest of instructions, not to deviate form the rules. Unfortunately, criminals are known not to have any set of rules to follow.

You can only rely on a guard to some point, unless you are ready to pay for the intelligence.

Comments

CHULALA said…
wuldnt agree less

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