Choosing your armed response
With armed robbery being a credible and constant threat not only in South-Africa but all around the world, it comes as no surprise that more and more armed response companies are popping up. Although I do not mind the number of manpower available to combat crime. The more armed response officers we have driving around, the quicker response times can become (client to vehicle ratio). But naturally, the influx of companies makes it somewhat more complicated to choose the correct one. It's simply not a price comparison that dictates the ultimate decision.
So I compiled a guideline for you:
- Cost - Obviously you need to pay a realistic price.
- Company portfolio - You need to make sure the company has relevant experience and has been around for some time, younger companies might not have the expertise and resources needed to provide an effective service, where some older companies again might be overstretched and ill-developed.
- Is the company properly registered at the relevant authorities? - For example in SA, a company has to be registered with PSIRA and SAIDSA (South-African Intruder Detection Services Association, and, each of the armed response officers also must have relevant PSIRA registration and firearms training as per the Firearms Control Act.
- What is the companies client to officer ratio? - Too many clients and not enough response officers could cause a back-log of alarms and have a dramatic impact on response times, usually when you will be needing it the most.
- Supervisors - Does the company have sufficient supervisors on duty to handle break-ins, reports, and client complaints?
- Vehicles - Is the company using relevant vehicles for your area - Rural areas or areas prone to heavy rain might require more rugged vehicles. And do they have enough vehicles up and running to get to all clients in a reasonable time?
- Equipment - Is the company using relevant equipment? Armed response officers should have relevant equipment necessary to complete their tasks, such as flashlights, body armor, ladders, etc. (SAIDSA, By-law no.3)
- Technology - Is the company utilizing new technology on the market that may better their overall services? Now and then the equipment is upgraded and new technology rolls out that help companies stay on top of their game.
- Training - Probably the most important aspect of any company. Generally, any officer should go through relevant training to be able to register as an armed security service provider, but refresher training is not controlled at all. Is your company developing training to improve its officers, such as firearms training, first aid, vicious dog training, fire training, crime scene contamination, and criminal law?
So I would like to say that all companies are good, but just like every other industry, money talks and shortcuts work. Following these guidelines should keep things in order. Selecting the right response company does not have to be a daunting task, but it most definitely should be a careful decision! What complicates things more is the fact that not all the same companies can be found all over the country, nevermind across borders. So it's not a clear decision from town to town. What's more is that some smaller or up and coming companies will likely be the best fit for you, even if only for the next few years or so. Make a wise choice.