The private security industry in Kenya has continued to enjoy exponential growth since the turn of the century, with an estimated 350,000 security officers working for about 2,500 private security service providers today. The brave men and women who don security officers’ uniforms are everywhere you look these days, performing heroic feats in order to make the world a safer place. From foiling armed robberies, to helping an expectant woman deliver a baby boy in Bungoma in the height of the medical practitioners’ strike, the contributions security guards make cannot go unnoticed. So what traits should you look out for when hiring a private security guard?
We thought we would pose this question to Richard Kiptum, one of our security officers here at Securex, who we believe is one of the best in the country, having been voted “Employee of the Month” for three months in a row at Nairobi’s Villa Rosa Kempinski. Richard has overcome insurmountable odds to get to where he is today and having been one of our officers at Westgate Mall during the tragic terror attack in September 2013, the emotional trauma he suffered nearly caused him to quit his job. But he persevered and continued his exemplary service without missing a beat.
So what makes a great security officer according to Richard Kiptum?
“A security officer’s job is never simply routine. No amount of training can adequately prepare one for some of the things we encounter while on duty, such as the Westgate Mall attack. We are often on the front lines in the war on crime, the first line of defence in the war on terror, and to do this requires tremendous courage. During the Westgate terror attack, we evacuated people until it got to a point where we were trapped and I hid inside a dustbin for six hours. This is why I think that doing security is a calling.”
“You have to love your work, enjoy what you do, and give your career undivided attention. We’re no longer just watchmen, because guarding has now become a respected profession. After I was caught up in the Westgate terror attack, I nearly resigned from my job from the emotional trauma that I suffered. My brother, who is a police officer, encouraged me not to give up on my passion, and thanks to numerous counselling sessions provided by my Securex family, I was soon back on my feet doing what I love.”
“Without the discipline to follow instructions and S.O.P’s (Site Operating Procedures) diligently, it is difficult to be a guard. Discipline begins with the little things, like being punctual at all times as well. We should aim to be able to work well with minimal supervision.”
- Desire to Learn:
“One has to be ready and willing to learn from his or her seniors once you join a security firm. Securex has a great number of security officers who have worked for the firm for over 10 years, with many working their way up into supervision and management. These are the people I have learnt and continue to learn from. To this day I still walk around with a notebook and pen while on assignment to note down anything new I learn.”
“Lastly, I think dedication is very important for us. If one is not committed to the job then you will never enjoy it. Dedication also means having that will to be better and to do better every day. I desire to serve everyone I come across in the line of duty to the best of my ability, and I am humbled that to this day, there are guests who come into the hotel and ask for me even before they check in.”