Security Officer Training - A Case Study

Security Officer Training - A Case Study

June 5, 2015 – Greg Autry, CPP

Greenway Plaza is a 52 acre multi-use commercial office campus in Houston, Texas. The complex employs contract security officers that provide around the clock security. Our Security Services Department includes a security control center with patrol coverage by vehicle, bike, and foot officers.

Greenway Plaza security management has developed a comprehensive officer training program. We reviewed procedures and developed areas of improvement with the intent of enhancing the officer’s job knowledge. It is our goal to insure each officer is properly trained for the position to which he/she is assigned. This program consists of:

-Initial onsite training.

-Position certification testing.

-Specialized training.

-Recurring training aimed at maintaining officer proficiency.

An integral part of any security officer training program is obtaining acceptance of everyone involved. In our case it is the contract security provider. Support of upper level management is also essential. Without the support of all involved, the program will not succeed. We held strategy sessions aimed at developing an overall program. We then formulated a step by step implementation plan. With management guidance, the training manager took possession of the program and has made it into what we believe should be the industry standard for officer training.

Our initial step was to create a “new hire” training manual that encompassed the basic knowledge needed for employment at Greenway Plaza. This manual is used during the 40 hour on site training that is a prerequisite before commencing actual on the job activities at our facility. The training manager developed the manual utilizing his classroom training lesson plans as well as management input.

Resources and responsibilities:

Next, we developed a site training record that covers every position from dock officer to supervisor. Taking experience gleaned from my US Air Force Security Police training, we took elements of the US Air Force certification programs and modified them to meet the unique requirements of Greenway Plaza. The training record lists every item that is required knowledge for each position. The record builds on itself in that some items are common to all positions and others are unique to that one post. An officer is only required to sign off on the items required for his/her current position. However the same record can be used if he/she moves laterally or advances to a higher position. As the officer is trained on a position, he/she signs off on the additional items required by utilizing the training record for that position. The training officer also signs off insuring that the individual officer understands and has demonstrated the ability to complete the task.


Every officer that is assigned to Greenway Plaza is required to attend a 40 hour site specific training program prior to being assigned to duties on site. This training is in addition to any training they receive from the security vendor. The training consists of:

-Classroom lecture.

-Practical application exercises.

-On the job training.

Subjects cover the basic knowledge common to all positions at Greenway Plaza. Items such as fire panel operation, emergency response and incident reports, are taught in the week long course. The officer in training also shadows an experienced officer currently in the position. At the end of the training, the officer in training is required to pass a written test in order to be released from initial training.

Once the officer leaves initial training, he/she is assigned a training officer who is on the same shift as the officer in training. Normally this is the shift supervisor. The supervisor insures that the officer has retained the knowledge from the initial training he/she received. The shift training officer is also required to sign off on all the items unique to the position the officer in training is to be assigned.


After 30 days working the assigned duty position, the officer returns to the training office for testing. The testing is divided into 3 parts, written, oral and a practical evaluation. The written test consists of multiple choice, true/false and essay questions specific to the officer’s duties. The oral portion is strictly question and answer. The practical evaluation consists of a drill that focuses on the individual officer’s duties and response to emergencies. If the officer fails any portion of the evaluation he/she is given remedial training in those areas and then is retested. If the officer still does not pass, he/she is reassigned by the security vendor. This insures that only qualified and adequately trained personnel are assigned to our property.

Retesting is conducted annually during the officer’s anniversary month. This insures that the officer retains the necessary job knowledge to perform his/her duties. 

Community Emergency Response Team Training:

This 24 training program is administered by FEMA and is offered through the Harris County Office of Emergency Management. The program trains personnel in light search and rescue, disaster first aid, small fire suppression and other important topics. All officers are required to attend this training. We feel it is essential given the size of our complex. Should a tornado or other major disaster strike, emergency response personnel will be quickly overwhelmed in the early recovery stages. Our team bridges the gap between the disaster and the time professional emergency responders can arrive.

Behavior Detection Training:

All security officers receive behavior detection training as a part of their duties at Greenway Plaza. Based on the Israeli method used by security professionals all over the world, this technique focuses on the intent rather than the means by which someone would present a threat to Greenway Plaza. The use of behavior detection enables security services personnel to focus on mitigating the threat of terrorism and instills an overall proactive approach towards protecting Greenway Plaza.

Recurring Training:

Our recurring training program has several unique characteristics. The Training Manager conducts daily emergency response drills to insure that all officers are prepared for emergencies. These drills are announced over our radio network as drills but the officers are expected to respond as they would under actual circumstances. As a part of our behavior detection program we also conduct Red Team exercises to insure all personnel have retained the suspicious behavior training they receive. We select outside individuals as role players to exhibit behaviors consistent with aggressors methods of operation. The officers then detect this behavior and take appropriate actions.

Our security provider has an online training web site that contains a library of hundreds of videos on general security subjects. Each officer is assigned two 20 minute videos to view per month. There is a test at the end of each video the officer must pass to get credit for the training. A log is electronically kept of each completed video and is downloaded and added to the officers training record. The officers are also required to attend quarterly training on site specific subjects. Items such as fire panel training, report writing, and other topics are taught by our vendor’s management staff. Each officer is required to maintain a CPR/AED/First Aid certification. The Training Manager is a certified instructor and holds classes several times a year to insure all personnel have ample opportunity to maintain their certification. 


Costs for the program are relatively small because we have an on site trainer. We have a line item in our budget for the quarterly training which is the only significant expense. This program can easily be duplicated on a smaller scale with minimal additional costs. As an example, the training and testing can be handled by a site manager or his/her assistant. Training time can be adjusted for the size of the property and a certification program developed. A security training manual is essential to any program. Again this can be produced on a smaller scale to fit the size of the facility. 

We feel this program is greatly improving officer performance and is aiding our response to actual emergencies. The professionalism of the staff is improving as the officers become more skilled in their positions. This improvement can only be attributed to the challenging training the officers receive. By challenging the staff, an exciting work environment exists that allows officers to excel. 

Greg Autry is an accomplished security manager with 25+ years of managerial and supervisory experience. Autry has served in a number of public and private leadership roles where he has been charged with the oversight of commercial office properties in excess of  four (4) million square feet, served in the U.S. Air Force, and Federal Bureau of Prisons to name but a few.

Autry is a Board Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and is certified in Security Supervision and Management (CSSM).