April 18, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

The History of Security Guards

3 min read

It’s not easy to take on the job of a security guard, especially since it means you risk your own life to save other people’s lives. The tales of unsung heroes like security officers have constantly been in the limelight for decades because of inspiring stories of heroism that have made people believe in real superheroes again. The history of security guards is one that shouldn’t be overlooked.


A security guard, also referred to as security officer or security personnel, is paid and designated by an organization to protect assets such as people, property, and money from imminent danger by enforcing preventive precautionary measures. They are usually uniformed to denote a lawful authority’s presence guarding a private property. Security officers take watch and create high visibility presence in assigned areas to prevent any unlawful criminal activities, patrol around and observe, watch surveillance camera feeds for any irregularities and taking action to prevent crime or minimize damage to life, limb, and property.

Allan-PinkertonIn the early 1800’s, there were no established law enforcement agencies or federal authorities to chase down outlaws across territorial lines. They were also inadequately equipped to go after criminals escaping the state or country which were responded to by the introduction of the security industry.  The Vigiles Urbani who guard the city of Rome was said to be the origin of security personnel. Security guards were called “watchmen” in the old days or middle ages in Europe. The security industry that we know today was founded in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton with the establishment of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency based in Chicago. This swiftly became one of the industry’s largest and most prominent security agencies. One of the main clients of the agency were railroad operators or companies which were usual victims of crooks who robbed passengers and trains of cargo and personal items.

Security guards had a more comprehensive role aside from private policing which include investigating crimes, guarding railroad shipments, giving security advice to businessmen who became frequent victims of lawless criminals. Regulation of the security industry commenced in 1915, wherein the state of California provides licensing and regulation of private security guards under the Administration of the State Board of Prison Directors. The said regulation was brought about by the increasing number of private security agencies and personnel mushrooming in the state and in the United States.

The duties of a security guard are to uphold the law in terms of detection and deterrence of crime. Majority of security agencies practice this mantra: “detect, deter, observe, and report.” Security guards can make citizen’s arrests or act as an authorized agent of law. Most of the security guards have previous military or police experience.   Security training has also evolved over time just as the compensation have also increased to attract more competent individuals specifically those who had prior police or military training and experience.

Security guards are also employed as bodyguards and are usually ununiformed and highly trained in order to defend life and property. Different requirements are to be complied for application as security guard depending on the state and role of office. For instance, in North Carolina, security officers must be licensed and certified by the Private Protective Services Board (PPSB). In California, security agents must obtain a license from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). All security personnel are required to submit themselves to background checking and course training for different levels before they are given accreditation and licenses to be a security guard.

14 thoughts on “The History of Security Guards

  1. This article was so poorly written that I was literally astounded. Okay Hurrah! security guards. Boo writer! Subject-verb agreement errors by the dozens. Missing punctuation, run-on sentences…. The errors are so abundant and so glaring that after I finished reading it, I can only assume that I am being gas-lighted … yet again!

    In the early 1800’s, there were no established law enforcement agencies or federal authorities to chase down outlaws across territorial lines. They were also inadequately equipped to go after criminals escaping the state or country which were responded to by the introduction of the security industry.

    So literally [nothing] was “inadequately equipped? [You can’t make this stuff up.]

  2. What an interesting and unique article. Seriously, I haven’t come across this type of article ever before. It was fun to take a break from reading about the technicalities of security and security guards. It is an excellent research and I believe many people would love learning about the history of how the security guards came about.

  3. Great article on the history of security guards. I’m sure private protection has been in use for much longer than we really know – body guards sort of serve the same purpose but on a more personal scale. I think it is very smart for businesses to make use of security guards – especially having them do patrols around the property late at night. This can really decrease the risk for vandalism or crime. If a hoodlum sees a security guard car I think they are much less likely to do anything. Security cameras also help too. Thanks again for your article! Great background on this thankless job.

  4. Great information and actually well written considering English is not your primary language. That comment is based on “Faraj’s” name being in Arabic on his reply to a comment. Therefore, I gather a guess English is not your primary language. I only bring this up because of one commenter felt the need to try and embarrass you and highlight how smart he is. Maybe know some facts before criticizing. But hey, Just my two cents. I teach the Unarmed & Armed Security Officer Training Courses in North Carolina. This is information I will incorporate into my classes. Thank you again “Shukran Faraj. Ana Ahebak hatha”

  5. Security has been a concern since we were cave dwellers and Guards and the night watch have existed thousands of years before the first police department was established “1829” Private security with all of it’s short cummings provide a public service to the community without costing it a dime. A uniformed Guard/watchmen’s main function is risk mitigation and is usually accomplished by being visible and vigilant. By reducing crime in their area of responsibility it allows public service more time to police other areas thus providing a public service which will never be acknowledge by many due to ignorance or one’s own self serving agenda.

  6. If only security guards were trained correctly at this day and time. Night security is so bad. Can’t find anyone that will not sleep and play video games on laptops no matter what you say to them. The pay sucks so bad and from what I see in Florida they will hire anyone. I have came across security guards that can’t read or write. Allied, securities and others are the very worst when it comes to hiring people that have no business being a security guard. They are nothing more than a target for the criminals. God help em all!.

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