How to Write a Security Guard Log
Security guard duties vary by agency and post, however, one common responsibility is to “Observe and Report” events and occurrences that take place on the guard post or patrol. The Report aspect of “Observe and Report” usually begins with a log that is kept by the Security Officer.
First, let’s review the most common logs used in Security work.
1. Personal Log – This log is carried by Security Officers, kept by the officer and is the property of the officer. As a Security Officer you should always keep a personal log even if the Security Agency does not require a log at your post. If you work an irregular schedule you can log the shifts that you work so you can compare to your pay stub.
2. Shift Log or Daily Activity Report (DAR) – May have other names, but this log is the Security Agency's log and is the property of the agency. The Shift Log is completed by one or more Security Officers and is the official log of the shift and post. It is usually reviewed and approved by a senior Security Officer and filed by the Security Agency. It may or may not be seen by the agency’s client.
3. Incident Report – The Incident Report or IR is not exactly a log but a more detailed report required for certain log events such as a vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, police or criminal activity, or workplace violence. The Shift Log will usually refer to an Incident Report by number. For example IR-9999. Most security organizations have a form or defined format for an Incident Report and a policy stating which log events will require an IR.
During a shift, the Security Officer will make entries into his/her personal log. If they are also carrying the Shift Log, they will maintain that log. On larger sites with multiple officers, the Shift Log is maintained at a central post or security office and the Security Officer(s) will use their personal log to update the Agency’s Shift Log during the shift or at the end of their shift. Larger agencies will use a computer to maintain their Shift Logs.
The security officer should save his/her personal log in the event it is ever required to recall past events. Even if your post has no logging requirements, a Security Officer should keep a personal log to maintain a record of days and hours worked as well as significant events that may have future legal significance.
A security log is an important document and can be used to provide a wide range of information including the arrival and departure of vendors and visitors; safety issues; accidents; suspicious or criminal activities; as well as security issues such as unsecured doors. A log kept by a licensed Security Officer can be subpoenaed as a legal document and become important in a liability suit or criminal prosecution. All of the above require that the log be clear and accurate.
The minimum equipment carried by a professional Security Officer should include:
1. Log book or clipboard
2. Pen - ball point
3. Accurate watch – digital is ideal
4. Flashlight - Compact LED 2 AA battery with 75-100 lumens will throw a bright white light over 100 meters
5. License and identification
In addition, officers may carry keys, a radio, firearm (if on an armed post) and a guard tour device such as Deggy. Armed officers may also carry personal defense items such as mace, TASER, or baton. An upscale or vehicle patrol may substitute an electronic device for the Shift Log, but most Security Officers will rely on a written log that may later be transferred to computerized form for reporting.
A bound log book is recommended. As an alternative, a ring notebook can be used. In that case numbering the pages is a good idea. A small 3” x 4” pocket note book is adequate for your personal log. Here are two examples that can be found at any department or stationary store (Office Depot). These will fit in your shirt or rear pants pocket and are easy to carry. If you are on patrol or away from a post they are there when you need them to take notes.
A pen is recommended over pencil since it is professional, more permanent, is usually neater and cannot be altered. Intentional corrections or changes should be made by running a single line through the old text and writing in the corrected text. You may initial the correction to be extra cautious. You should always initial any correction or change to the agency’s Shift Log.
A log entry should provide the Who, What, When, and Where of the event being reported.
Who – The officer making the entry as well as identifying any other individual(s) associated with the entry. Who arrived/departed, who was a secured door opened for or who was involved in an accident. If the “who” is not an identified employee, vendor, or visitor, make every attempt to obtain a full name, address and telephone number. If the "who" is unknown, record a description to include estimated weight and height, sex, race, hair color, clothing and any distinguishing features.
What – What happened? A clear description of the event that required logging. Post orders should describe your general log requirements. If you are unsure whether an event is important enough to log, err on the conservative side and log anything that is unusual or exceptional that the client, other officers, or your supervisor should know about.
When – Here is where the accurate watch comes in. Keep your watch set to the correct time. Log times exactly. Do not round off for simplicity. Should the event turn out to have legal significance, an accurate time will be important. In addition, if all of your times are rounded off, an attorney could easily question your time accuracy in a legal proceeding. If a post change occurs on the hour, it is usually acceptable to post the hourly time as long as your post is manned at the time of the change by you or the other officer. (See your post orders on this issue).
Where – The location of the event. It may be your post if you are in a fixed location such as a lobby or desk post. If you are on patrol, be as specific as possible. As an example, a parking lot accident should identify the exact location not “employee parking”. Identify the space or use a drawing if necessary. Identify rooms with a number (if available) or use the correct term for the space as identified on a floor plan. Avoid using informal names or acronyms that may be used by employees, but would not clearly identify a space to law enforcement or company management.
Why is the fifth "W", however, unless the Security Officer knows for a fact, the why of an event it should not be logged. At no time should a Security Officer enter an opinion or speculation, just the facts as you observed them.
A structured log is one that assists the officer in logging the appropriate information for a log event. A simple example would be a Shift Log with columns for Date, Time, Officer, Location, and Event. An example can be seen here. This allows the officer to “fill in the blanks” and reminds him/her of the minimum log requirements.
Multi-officer sites with a central security desk or office will likely use a computer for the Shift Log, Incident Reports, and other report functions. Computerized logs vary dramatically in function and the amount of information that must be supplied by the Security Officer. Your personal log is even more important since it is your portable "memory" that stores information from the time you observe an event until you enter it in the Shift Log. Avoid trusting your human memory, write it down when it is fresh in your mind.
An automated log can go further and prompt for specific information based upon the type of log entry. An automated log can also pre-fill certain descriptive fields such as location based on the type of log entry. Window or graphic based systems will use pull down menus to allow an officer to select from a list of entries. Computerized systems may appear intimidating at first, however, a good system will make your job easier and produce more accurate and consistent reporting. An example of an automated log system is G-Log Security Guard Log System. Samples of computerized text logs can be found here.
Over time, hand held devices similar to your cell phone will replace the written log you carry in your pocket. In the mean time, that little notebook may be one of the most important tools you use in your profession.
The advice provided in this article is the opinion of the authors who are employees of Guardian Security Software and who have real life Security Officer experience. This information is therefore general in nature and should be used with discretion. Any Security Officer or Agency must also be aware of the license and performance requirements of your state as well as the policies and requirements of your employer or client.
The material on this web site is Copyrighted © 2011 by Guardian Security Software LLC, however, permission to copy and use this page freely will be given by writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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