by Glenn MacIntyre, CIPM, CIPI
certified IFCPP instructor
Priceless Artwork Damaged By Impaired Patron
A 36-year-old woman punched, scratched, rubbed her butt on, and peed next to a $30-$40 million painting.
Museum Evacuated After Fire
A construction worker’s cigarette landed on some sawdust, sparking a massive fire that destroyed a valuable Picasso.
Ancient Urn Destroyed By 12-Year Old
A 12-year old trips and falls, knocking over an urn dating back to the Ming Dynasty. The Curator stated that “Once it hit the marble floor, it shattered into hundreds of pieces. It was like a gun shot or a bomb had gone off.”
Security Officer Killed During Shooting at Museum
A rifle-wielding aggressor entered the museum on Wednesday afternoon, fatally shooting a security officer before being wounded himself by return fire from other guards. A six-year veteran of the museum's security staff "died heroically in the line of duty," said the museum director. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do to protect people in the museum; never take your guard force and security people for granted," he said.
These are all words we don’t want to hear at our institution, yet the last statement is exactly what we do when we do not train our security staff; we take them for granted. Just as condemning, is providing ineffective or out-of-date training.
Too often, this crucial part of operations at cultural property locations is ignored because: a) “it’ll never happen here”, or b) “security is a necessary evil for insurance purposes only” or c) “they don’t bring in money, they’re costly enough as it is; the preservation of the artwork takes priority”. However, these are the same people we leave in charge of protecting the artifacts, natural wonders and items that we owe our entire existence. If we lose our entire inventory, are we still in business?
There are many organizations out there that promise the proper training. However, how well do they know your institution? Are they well versed in the necessary training? What is required for your institution? What about his/her background? He/she was a Security Officer for five years; does that qualify them to teach? What if he/she was a college professor in Criminal Justice, does that qualify him/her? They were certified 5 years ago by some recognized program, is that enough? Have you checked out the Instructor’s credentials to verify they are currently approved to instruct?
I have worked with three different states’ agencies that require state licensing for Security Officers. Each state has its own requirements (anywhere from 8 – 40 hours). It is amazing the horror stories the states’ have passed along to me. One state has shut down hundreds of these organizations that were originally approved.
A true Instructor/Teacher/Professor is committed to the student learning. We should all be interested in professionalizing our industry. Although not everyone is suited to work in a security role or maybe in your institution’s environment, be it a library, a zoo, botanical garden, museum, etc., very few people come to work to fail at their job. Once again, we are setting them up to fail if we don’t provide them the tools and skills to be successful. This goes from the security officer, to the supervisor, to the security manager, to the Facilities Director, and so on.
When it comes right down to it, aren’t we all educational institutes anyway? Why do we all get school groups coming to visit: to learn! Why neglect our own employees? The message we are sending these guardians of the collections is: “this place doesn’t care, why should I?”.
We also need to be aware of local, state or federal requirements and standards, which frequently are updated. This is why the IFCPP is looking into offering more than just our own certification programs. We are currently prepared to offer:
a) state mandated training for:
1. State of New York,
2. State of Vermont
3. State of Connecticut.
b) Management of Aggressive Behavior
We are also looking for input on whether we should become a training center for OSHA, since they are actively seeking more training centers through non-profit organizations. So if anyone is interested in OSHA certified safety training (or any other specific training) please contact Rob Layne at firstname.lastname@example.org. In today’s society, with more and more competition and regulations hindering our abilities to stay open, we need to continue to enhance our programs by continually utilizing and making our security staff more versatile through education.
IFCPP is committed to reducing the number of articles like this one: the ex-employee who killed himself inside a gallery at the campus' art museum was a security guard who resigned in several years ago to avoid being fired.
What we should be striving for in every situation is: "Our security did an incredible job disarming the situation and did exactly as they were trained to do".