Security Guards Vs. Video Surveillance: The Pros and Cons

By Shawn Scarlata

As a business owner, one of your main concerns is safety in your workplace. However, it doesn’t matter if you own a jewelry store or an office building there are only of a finite number of tried and true options at your disposal to ensure that your property, your employees and your business is kept safe. Two of these options are security guards and video surveillance systems.

Because no one business is the same, there are times when one of these options will work better for your business setup than the other. Factors like location, size of physical space and money are all attributes to consider when choosing a security system for your business. Here are the pro and cons to security guards and video surveillance systems.

Pro: Security guards can react, not just see, in real-time

One aspect of keeping your workplace safe is the ability to react to threatening situations in real-time. It’s certainly a plus for video surveillance to have undeniable coverage recorded, but that doesn’t solve a more immediate problem: the ability to react to a situation in the moment and potentially deter crime before it happens or is happening.

Security guards can be trained to react in real-time. Security guards receive varying levels of training when it comes to actively responding to crime. Training can include exercises on how to collect information all the way through the ability to detain suspects. As a business owner, it’s up to you to decide what your needs are and what skills a security guard must have to help you meet them.

Pro: Video surveillance systems can cover more ground.

In the case that your business covers a lot of physical ground, spans many floors or is located in a space that can’t be properly surveyed by a human, you’re in luck: video surveillance systems are the answer to being able to see your whole business at once, and maybe even on your smartphone, too.

Due to their range of motion, recording capabilities and the ability to add as many cameras as your budget will allow, video surveillance systems are the best way to see the entirety of a large area at once. This could possibly include but is not limited to spaces like warehouses, parking lots, outdoor shopping areas and more.

Con: Security guards can be expensive.

There’s no denying that the presence of an armed security guard would make most people think twice before even attempting to commit a crime. But for many businesses, having security guards to patrol their property is just not in the cards — or their budget. As a business owner, the cost of paying a person(s) to keep your workplace safe must be considered. Security guards, while ensuring safety, also can incur a large cost on your business.

For small businesses, security guards can run anywhere between $20-$100 per hour depending on the type of work they are contracted to do. While an unarmed security guard typically is about $18-22 per hour, an armed security guard costs more for the same amount of time. The costs for both armed and unarmed security guards can go up during the nighttime, as risk increases during the evening hours.

Con: Video surveillance can lead to delayed responses.

When creating a video surveillance system at your business, it may be tempting to install a camera in every nook and cranny to make sure the system is working for you and keeping your business safe. However, by doing this, you’re ensuring just the opposite. The golden rule to follow when it comes to video surveillance is the more cameras you have, the more staff you must employ to monitor it. Otherwise, you won’t be able to respond efficiently and effectively to a crime in progress.

When setting up your system, don’t forget to create a plan of who will monitor which cameras and when. Doing this, paired with some investigation on exactly where the best places are to install cameras, will get you started off on the right foot. Don’t forget that video surveillance systems these days come with features like remote video feeds, different camera types and more, and these nuances need to be worked into your training so folks can properly react to what they’re monitoring.

While there are pros and cons to security guards and video surveillance systems, there’s also a third option that might work for your business. A comprehensive approach is a blend of using both security systems to keep your business safe. It’s possible that a security guard during the day adds an extra layer of protection to the cameras that already monitor your space at night. No matter what, understanding the pros and cons of both systems will help you make the best choice for your business.

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