There is a general feeling by a section of Kenyans on the likelihood of the private guards being “out-of-control” if issued with firearms.
It’s therefore prudent that private security management agencies be duty-bound to liaise with government agencies for thorough physical security and access control training of guards with focus on emerging threats. For now, arming them should not be the priority.
Many governments, especially in Africa, lack resources to sufficiently provide security needs for all, prompting the establishment of private security firms to complement the government exertions in protecting the citizenry. Private security companies make a vital contribution to state security efforts. They are equally a significant employer.
With increased criminality and terror threats, this not only makes security big business, but has also prompted the Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA), a federation of private security companies, to warn investors against fake firms.
The criticality of security to humans cannot be overemphasised; modern society depends on a security system that is available and accessible. Private security guards are the first line of security; they access control for most facilities in Kenya. Their major roles include not only guiding visitors, but also searching and frisking them for any item that may cause harm or threaten life. Most use bare hands, others metal detectors.
Questions are being asked about the viability or criticality of the guards’ roles, especially when searching visitors. A recent survey by a local television station revealed how an armed intruder can go through searching zones undetected, even after the “search”. It is about time we asked some pertinent and fundamental questions.
Is it time the guards were retrained, particularly on emerging threats? Do we do away with manual searching or frisking, for “walk-through” metal detection machines? How many organisations will afford it? How do the guards store firearms retrieved from visitors who are licensed gun holders? Do they know how to “make safe” when receiving or issuing arms? What if they found a visitor with an illegal gun?