What is Tactical response?


What is Tactical Response?

I'm sure most of us have been intrigued by the facade of armed men dressed in tactical gear, manipulating firearms and other awesome gadgets all whilst moving as one man through buildings and taking out bad guys with 2 shots to the body and one to the head (You know, just to be sure). Although we most famously associated with the S.W.A.T teams from American movies. These tactical teams can be seen broadly from all corners of the world, from police forces, military, private security, and private military. For the focus of this website, of course, I will explain Tactical response in the private security industry.

So what is it?

Tactical response teams are normally considered to be a team of armed response officers trained in various weapons and tactics. Where the primary weapons would be some form of carbine or shotgun and s side-arm capable of carrying high capacity magazines. Combined with some team dynamics, these teams can be effective in combating higher levels of threat.

What type of training is required?

The typical training most of these officers receive would be from some form of military or police experience. Fortunately and also sometimes, unfortunately, a lot of these officers receive training from reputable private companies who specialize in training and development within the private industry. Most of these instructors come from some special units in which they served within law enforcement or military fields. Also, this type of training comes with a price, and most of the officers who have no prior experience would have paid for their training out of pocket. Or if your local service provider thinks some of their normal security personnel might deserve a greater chance in the private sector, they might pay for that training. These newly trained officers will repay the company with services rendered over a set period.

Onto the weapons...

So, as mentioned, carbines and pistols rule in the tactical industry. But also worth mentioning is the other effective weapons these guys get to play with, for instance:

  • Knives
  • Batons
  • Pepper spray/guns
  • Gas/smoke grenades
  • Flashbang grenades

Worth taking to mind is that different countries have different laws governing these officers and their allowed gear and weapons. For instance, South-Africa does not permit the more round stuff that goes boom after 3 to 5 seconds of pulling the pin. So please check with your current laws and regulations before buying the whole team those katanas!


Of course, special units need special gear, and with all the toys these guys carry, a lot of space and adaptability are needed! You want:

  • Bulletproof vests and plate carriers
  • Interchangeable pouches
  • Slim radios and earpieces
  • Medical kits
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Knee and elbow protection
  • Gloves and a beanie
  • Shades...

And the optional favorites of course:

  • Helmets
  • Balaclava
  • Night/Thermal vision
  • Patches, and a lot of them.

It's up to each officer to decide what works for him when it comes down to 12-hour shifts in the private industry.

What vehicles do they use?

So now they've got all the right gear and all the sweet toys to stuff it full with, but, how do they get to the scene?

Not with local transport, that's for sure. A sturdy vehicle, like a small truck, or as we SA guys call it, a bakkie is preferable. Even a small SUV will work. Now I'm sure to step on some toes here, but a car normally has a lower profile, though they might be faster, they don't climb curbs all that well and generally don't provide for much space. I'd much rather be using something that can keep up with traffic but be able to climb onto a sidewalk or speed through an open field when you're chasing someone who typically does not want to be caught.

What authority do they possess?

Now, this is where the lines can get fuzzy...

As private security, the law will be a certain issue. Do they act right? are they permitted to use force and how far are they allowed to go to protect their assigned clients?

Again, check with your own country and its laws! Although it is quite clear that reasonable cause calls for reasonable force, I have had to struggle with this in my career a few times. Am I acting according to law, or does the situation call for more action, which might be seen as unlawful? I don't wish to say that a more specialized unit should always act in self-defense, but that is the rule of thumb here.

So does it work?

Is it a good idea to upgrade to a tactical response unit? If the threat is credible, if your situation calls for it and if you can afford it, then Yes, it is worth it, and it can work for You. But be sure to integrate such a service correctly. Just parked outside your home, office, or business, whilst they could be better of patrolling the premises together with your normal guards will be more productive and effective. Having them close enough when needed is essential, but when it's not credible, you could be better off to direct that money spent, into better use, for instance, to upgrade to a 24-hour off-site monitoring service.

Do You need it?

As I stated earlier, if the situation calls for it, then yes, You do. I will not rely on normal guards or a single armed response officer to respond to a bigger office building. I would also say yes when you have a credible threat that normally armed response officers are not fit to deal with. So, with that said, I suggest you do a thorough risk analysis and threat assessment before making that expensive call.


A private tactical response team can be valuable if they live up to the required level of performance. To me, a single response officer, responding alone, is not a tactical officer, rather an armed response officer trained in tactical work. Not the same as an actual Tactical team! And as I always emphasize, make sure they stay up to date with training and industry development!

Are security guards effective?

Are security guards effective?

Now, I am sure we've all heard the term "You get what you pay for" before, and although it could sometimes be used irrationally, for this subject it might just be justifiable. Security guards can be seen almost everywhere you go nowadays. Some look professional, some not so much, some bulky, some lean, but sadly most are ill-trained, badly paid, and under-qualified. You see one of the important aspects of crime prevention on a physical level is discipline, and working 12-hour shifts for 5 days a week, most of it on your feet and stagnant in one position, for years on end, takes a lot of discipline!

What am I blabbering about?

You see, any employee who is constantly underpaid and over-worked tends to turn unhappy and ineffective. In no other work is an unhappy employee a greater risk than in the security field! Imagine yourself making minimum wage on 12-hour shifts, most likely traveling for another hour or two to get back home, train, get updated with the latest teachings and developments in your field, and then trying to find some time for your family. Would you be happy? Would you be willing to jump into the face of danger for a client that never greets you or respects your presence?. I suspect you might say yes, and that you would do whatever it takes to support your family. This is excellent, but, you will not be able to keep this up for long. Especially not for a few years on end. yet, this is the reality these security guards face every day. And for the record, no, I'm not seeking empathy for them either, its just what it is, the truth.

So, then what makes a security guard effective?

Any security guard that aims to be effective should have the following qualities:

  • Should be vigilant
  • Should be properly trained
  • Should keep up with crime trends
  • Should keep a healthy lifestyle
  • Should be presentable
  • Should be disciplined

Normally you would hire a guard/s from a reputable security firm, this noticeably has a big impact on the quality of the guards that might end up on your premises. Unfortunately, you do not have much control over this, but you do get to choose which company to go for. It is the responsibility of the company to have their employees background checked, trained, uniformed, and properly supervised. Though companies will add profit to their services rendered, which is obvious, you should be careful of the pricing itself. Too low and it might be that the company is not paying their employees well enough or might go out of business quite quickly, Too high and it might be the same actually, as these companies tend to have fewer clients, and one or two contractual losses might again bring them to bankruptcy or having to cut corners. The best price will be the average price for services rendered in your area.

How do I choose?

When your satisfied with the risk and effectiveness of security guards and your now looking to hire a security guard/s you should take care to see that a company manages their guards well. Typically, these are good qualities of a good company:

  • Price, not too low, yet not overly expensive
  • Continuously re-trains their employees
  • Do background checks on all employees
  • Treats their employees humanely
  • Not paying their guards minimum wage
  • Offers their employees room for growth
  • If possible, have their guards working less than 12-hour shifts
  • Must have their guards trained in developing action plans for on-site work.

At the end of the day, any company should be able to explain their pricing and how they intend to keep their employees happy and well-trained. If they fail to do that, you might have to switch companies. A supervisor should be available during the hours that services are rendered and in direct contact with your management staff or yourself.


Security guards are just normal human beings trading time for income, to feed their families or whatever they might need to. I always advise my clients to treat the guards with respect and friendliness, you don't need to talk to them, but refrain from making them feel lesser than you! Respect in any form goes both ways, and an ill-treated guard will undoubtedly trade a good pay off for access to your premises. A security guard is not another tool you can use to run errands, wash your vehicle or hold the door just so you could feel special, their focus should be on making sure no one enters your premises illegally or removes equipment without permission.

The effectiveness of security guards evidently can be a 50/50 give or take. Choose them well, manage them well, and treat them properly and you get a great service, anything less than that and you might be running a bigger risk than you think. Also noteworthy is the professionalism of your security guards, they might make or break your client experience. A sloppy guard badly reflects on your company, whereas a friendly, assertive and professionally looking guard will certainly boost client experience!

Anything you might want to add or debate about the effectiveness of security guards, drop a comment below or mail me directly!