Exclusive: Transitioning from law enforcement to private security

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There is a point in everyone’s life when the question, “What comes next for me?” surfaces. Today, no one really, “retire retires,” even with a great pension or a multiple family income, there are many men and women in the latter half of their lives that have led successful and fulfilling careers and want to move to the next step. 

The private security field has become an excellent secondary career and most popular amongst former law enforcement. The wealth of knowledge and years of experience in calls for service and protection can only be seen as an added benefit to the private security field, right? Absolutely! However, many of those transitioning into the private security sector are blinded by the false notion that the position is, “easy,” or a, “way to get me out of the house so I can earn some play money.” 

Coming from a careerist standpoint in the private security sector, the aforementioned sentiments are not only a demoralisation to the security field, which invites unfair stereotypes of the, “guard,” image, but also lowers the morality of frontline protectors. Make no mistake, no matter what level one enters into the private security sector, it is not a position to be taken lightly and indeed holds great possibilities for a rich and fulfilling second, (or primary), career; however, the expectations must be clear, which is why networking and mentoring those coming from, as in this example, the law enforcement sector, is imperative to set the proper tone and develop great security professionals in 2021 and beyond.

When contemplating the transition from law enforcement to the private security sector, the first thing that needs to change and develop is one’s mindset. Law enforcement officers have the power to take away an individual’s freedom. Furthermore, an authoritative demeanor is also expected while a law enforcement officer is on duty. Once the transition to the private sector is complete, there is an imperative realisation that must be understood: security must be married with customer service.  Keeping individuals and their assets safe is still the primary objective; however, it has to be done, for lack of a better word, with a smile. This is further substantiated by the plethora of customer service trainings that security service providers are mandating with their employees. People want to feel safe; however, they want to concurrently feel welcome. 

Having the correct frame of mind while transitioning into the private sector is very important not only for the employee but also to the field itself. Transitioning law enforcement typically will fall into two categories of secondary career pursuit positions: security officer and security supervisor/manager; with the latter more popular than the former. As previously stated and to be as transparent as possible, the private security sector IS NOT nor CANNOT afford to be an, “easy gig.” The sector has grown tremendously over the last 20 years in both talent and scope of work. No matter what level one decides to transition into private security, (i.e. – officer, supervisor, manager), it must not be taken or practiced with indolence. 

So how does one get started with transitioning into the private security field? An adage, which I use most often is, “It is who you know that gets you the job and what you know that keeps it”: 

Do not be timid. Get out there and network with those who have worked or work in the security industry. Remember, if you are not assertive towards your objective, someone else will beat you to it. 

There is no greater investor in yourself than YOU. Time is on your side. Do your research and study up on security certifications that are available to help in transitioning your career to where you want it to be.

Brush up that resume and stay active on LinkedIn. Your resume should be relevant to the position while concurrently setting yourself aside from the competition. Use LinkedIn to create a professional profile as well as use it to connect with your next career co-workers and seek continuing education opportunities in the security sector.

Stay versed in the profession. Keep up-to-date on the legislature and standard operations, which are updated regularly. This will help develop the proper mindset transition from public service to private service. 

law enforcement
Matthew Porcelli

By Matthew Porcelli, CPP

You can connect with Matthew on LinkedIn here

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