Training for armed security guard focuses on keeping gun holstered

Jun 21, 2018, 9:33 PM | Updated: 9:37 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A 26-year-old security guard was behind bars on a murder charge after police said he shot a man in the back after a fight outside the Heber Wells Building.

Police said the victim, Thomas Stanfield, tried to walk away several times when the guard re-engaged him Wednesday. The last time Stanfield tried to walk away, police said the security guard, Timothy Lutes, shot him in the back.

Security guards, or security officers, must complete state-approved training to be licensed in Utah. Today, there are 3,666 licensed unarmed private security officers in Utah, and 1,342 armed private security officers.

KSL spoke with Rob Anderton – a man with 40 years of experience in the business said that training for armed security officers is focused on keeping the gun holstered, and calling for help.

Anderton has trained security guards for decades and served on the Utah Security Personnel Licensing Board for nearly a decade. He is also chairman of the Professional Alliance of Contract Security Companies.

“The firearm, we view as a deterrent,” he said. “In most cases, the security officer can retreat.”

The guard should be a visual deterrent, Anderton said, and can only legally shoot to save his life, or another person in imminent danger.

“When in doubt, don’t,” he said. “If you have a question call your supervisor.”

If he were the head of a security team today, he would tell his officers the need to brandish a firearm should be rare.

“There are very few situations that would require you to do something extraordinary,” he said.

Anderton crafted the state’s training program, nearly 400 pages long. Licensed security guards must complete 24 hours of classroom training. Armed security guards must complete 12 additional hours of training: half in the classroom and half on the gun range. Armed guards must also re-qualify with their gun every six months.

“It’s there to protect the officer, protect people,” said Anderton. “The actual use in a security situation should be just so minuscule.”

Security guards are trained to de-escalate the situation, just like police, he said.

“Usually, if you can’t talk your way out of it, you back off and call for back up,” said Anderton.

Police officers have more rights and more training with their firearm. They can use it to enforce the law, or make somebody comply, he said. A security guard cannot.

Trainees have been taught to retreat and call for help whenever possible.

“Don’t do it unless it’s a clear and imminent danger to you, or somebody else,” Anderton said. “If you do something, you’re going to be liable for it. If there’s a gun involved, it’s going to be really, really bad. So, please think about what you’re doing.”

Anderton said he believes the training standards in Utah are good. He has also talked with the licensing board this year about adding additional training for armed guards. This shooting, he said, may rekindle that conversation.

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