Armed or Unarmed Guards: How to Choose

There are many ways to protect property and prevent break-ins, vandalism, theft, or other damages. Homeowners, communities, businesses, and schools may turn to deterrents like heavy-duty locks or observational systems like security cameras, but these measures can only do so much. The next step is to enlist the aid of security professionals to patrol and safeguard the site. 

This form of deterrent is incredibly effective because an on-site security presence means almost immediate intervention in the event of an attack on the property. Oftentimes, security can even prevent intrusion or damage before it occurs. Thieves and vandals will think twice before crossing paths with trained security forces. 

The question, of course, is whether it’s better to hire unarmed or armed guards to secure your property. There are several factors to consider. Here are a few things to think about when you want to make the best decision for your residential, commercial, or public security

The Difference Between Unarmed and Armed Guards

Arms refer to any method of offense or defense, although we tend to think of being armed as carrying a firearm. It is the common understanding of the term that differentiates unarmed vs. armed guards. 

In fact, unarmed guards do carry non-lethal weapons for deterrence and self-defense, including items like a nightstick, pepper spray, or a taser, for example. Armed guards, by contrast, are trained to carry firearms, or lethal weapons. They are equipped with registered firearms to use if required in the course of protecting your property. 

Your Level of Risk

Before you decide whether unarmed or armed guards are right for your property, it’s important to assess the level of risk that you may face for intrusion or attack. For example, a business like a bank or jewelry store that houses incredibly valuable items is generally considered to be at higher risk for break-in and burglary than, say, a restaurant. A business that deals with valuable data may also face high risk. 

Homes in a gated community might be at less risk than a community full of million-dollar homes that is not gated. You also have to consider crime rates in your area. If they’re unusually high, even properties that might not normally have high risk factors could be targeted. 

For low-risk settings and scenarios, unarmed guards are generally considered to be an adequate deterrent to criminal activities like theft or vandalism. Higher risk properties might prefer armed guards to act as an elevated deterrent to crime. 

Managing Perceptions

There’s a fine line between creating the impression of a safe environment and making people wonder whether they should worry about an imminent threat. The average person might not think twice about seeing an armed guard in a busy bank, where the threat of robbery is high. 

However, seeing armed guards in a clothing boutique might raise eyebrows and cause shoppers to question whether they want to visit a store with such heightened security. 

Liability Concerns

You may notice that the cost of an armed security force is higher than the cost to use unarmed guards. There are two reasons for this. First, armed guards require more training. Secondly, there is a heightened level of liability when security professionals carry deadly weapons. 

Your budget may play a role in the type of security presence you choose, but this should only be taken into consideration after determining the level of security that best meets your needs. The professionals at Sentinel are always happy to offer suggestions based on our expertise, helping you to choose appropriate security options for the needs of your residential, commercial, or public property.

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