Choosing your armed response


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.

Home defense

Reaction unit

Reaction unit

For every situation that can occur, it will always be the best option to have an external reaction force to assist. This does not have to be an armed response company, as your local policing service might even be more efficient, and that will strongly depend on your specific country and location. This can even be a community policing project in your area with which you can have constant contact. At no point in any situation will I suggest that anyone as the man/protector of the home go out into danger to try and approach the threat. One great reason for this is that your family will be more vulnerable than ever when you are taken out of the equation.

The main purpose of a reaction unit is to scare off or possibly even arrest the invader/s. Any reaction unit you choose should be able to face the types of emergencies that you will most likely encounter. Whatever reaction unit you choose should generally comply with the following aspects:

When it’s your local police service:

  • You need them to react as fast as possible, but please keep in mind that at any given moment they might be busy with more calls than they can handle or anything that requires more attention than normal and this will greatly influence their response times.
  • Research and ask around about your local police service, what is their average response times, are they equipped for the job? Do they act professionally?

When you are looking at hiring a professional service:

  • The company should be registered with the relevant authorities of your country.
  • The company should comply with all the relevant laws on the service they are providing and the laws implemented by your country in regards to using firearms or lethal weapons used by the company.
  • The response personnel should be trained appropriately.
  • The company should have a reputable name, you don’t want a fly-by-night company to come to the rescue in your moment of need.
  • The company should regularly send their response personnel for updated training.
  • Preferably you want a company that wants to instruct you on their expertise and not one who wants to know what you prefer to have unless both agree on the same input. Once a company wants to know what you prefer, you need a more professional company. (You never hire an expert just to tell them what to do, because then you didn’t need them in the first place).
  • The company should have enough infrastructure to be able to respond to all their clients.
  • Price, of course, plays a great role, don’t settle for the cheapest and don’t expect the most expensive ones to be the best in the industry.

If you are considering utilizing your neighborhood watch or community policing service:

  • You need a community that is big enough to have someone on standby or constantly out on patrol, who can react immediately.
  • They should not try and be the Rambo’s of town, they have no more power or authority than any natural person do.
  • They don’t necessarily care about you, they care more about getting a piece of the action.
  • They will have to wait for professional assistance when there is a real threat.

How strong is your reaction unit?