The Importance of Reports
There is a common saying that, “no job is finished until the paperwork is done”. That is just as true for the security officer as it is for the accountant or lawyer. Security officers are often unseen in the middle of the night. Generally, the only way a client can judge how well the guard is performing the job is by reading the reports in the morning. If it didn’t get into the report, the client assumes it didn’t happen. If the report is inadequate, the client assumes that the guard is inadequate. If the report is neat, thoughtful, and comprehensive, the client assumes that the guard is doing a great job. A security guard is only as good as his reports.
The client and security guard alike should never overlook the value of the reporting process. It doesn’t matter what type of security is being used – armed guards, unarmed guards, vehicular patrol, executive protection, or security receptionist – they must all adhere to a comprehensive reporting process.
The five basic questions that most reports should answer are:
If the report does not answer all of those questions it is not finished, yet.
The most common reports for patrol, unarmed, and armed guards is the Daily Report. Some of the most common names for this report are:
1. Daily Action Report (DAR)
2. Shift Report
3. Patrol Report
4. Patrol Log
5. Daily Log
All daily reports contain the following information:
1. Security Officer’s Name
2. Date of the Shift
3. Time the Shift Started
4. Time the Shift Ended
Most daily reports are also required to add:
1. Times of Patrols
2. Times of Inspection of Critical Items or Areas
3. Times of Unusual Observations or Events
4. Summaries of Unusual Observations or Events
5. Maintenance Problems
6. Any Unusual Occurrence
Good reports are the result of good patrols. Instead of walking or driving the same route at the same pace it is important to slow down, poke around, and pay attention. It’s easy to spot problems if the security guard is looking for them.
Some common problems to write in the daily report are:
1. Burned Out Light Bulbs
2. Missing Fire Extinguishers
3. Safety Problems (Slippery Floors, Trip Hazards, etc.)
4. Holes in Fences
5. Insecure Doors
6. Areas with Insufficient Lighting at Night
7. Overgrown Landscaping that can Shield a Burglar
8. CCTV Cameras Requiring Maintenance
9. Fire Hazards
10. Open Windows
Do not accept reports from security officers on foot or on vehicular patrol that merely state, “Everything is quiet” eight times. Those guards are not doing their jobs. Security receptionists should even be able to leave useful reports with information regarding important visitors and exit/arrival times of employees. Printing should be readable and spelling, correct. Encourage the use of dictionaries.
Never overlook the importance of proper security training. A security guard training school that teaches report writing is ideal, but certainly not required. Report writing can be taught in-house with a simple workbook or short text on the subject. The BSIS state-required Power to Arrest (guard card) class discusses report writing but it is insufficient for practical applications. Proper documentation is essential for accurate communication and liability protection. Never underestimate its importance.