L3R – 5.4 Professionalism and Ethics

Professionalism and Ethics

I  Professionalism

A profession is an occupation that typically requires a particular skill or specialized training. Professionals are individuals who know better than others the nature of their specialty and what is best for their client in regard to this specialty.

Being a security officer is not just a job, it is a profession. As a security officer, you are in position of public trust. The public, your employer, co-workers, and clients should be able to trust you. You must not use your position for personal or professional gain. Conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times on and off duty.

As a security officer you will have to interact with individuals who are challenging. In the normal course of your work, you will get to know the habits, schedules, and personalities of the people you are around. You will know the layout of the assigned area and who should and shouldn’t be present.

a. Actions

Professional Actions

As a security officer your job responsibilities will often cause you to come into contact with the public. You should:

  • remain calm and professional to keep encounters stress free,
  • persuade people to comply voluntarily,
  • use effective professional language, and
  • constantly examine yourself and the way you choose to interact with others.

Unprofessional Actions

You should not:

  • give into greed,
    • Theft from your workplace is both unethical and criminal.
    • It will almost certainly result in criminal charges.
  • give into anger, or
    • Rising to the state of emotion of a belligerent individual can escalate situations.
    • This discourages and individual’s voluntary compliance.
  • ignore reasonable critique.
    • Even if a situation ends with voluntary compliance, you might receive critique from the individual, your co-workers, or your supervisor.
    • Remember to listen to other perspectives, even if you do not agree. Future encounters will go more smoothly when there is a mutual respect of opinions.

b. Appearance

Professional appearance consists of personal image with regard to clothing, grooming, manners and etiquette, personal behavior, and communication effectiveness.


Your attire while working will mostly be your uniform as defined by your company. However, for any clothing not provided by your employer, must be kept in proper condition. You can do this by:

  • replacing any clothing with holes,
  • avoiding clothing with sayings, phrases, or large logos, and
  • following company guidelines for appropriate dress.


Your presence alone has the ability to alter behavior. You should maintain proper hygiene by:

  • keeping your uniform clean and pressed,
  • keeping your body and hands clean by washing regularly, and
  • assuring that you are well groomed to include keeping your hair clean and tidy and your nails trimmed.


The way you carry yourself is also important. To carry yourself in a professional manner you should:

  • maintain a basic level of physical fitness.
  • maintain good posture,
  • keep a confident, positive attitude,
    • Avoid showing anger or fear as this can be detected by others. This can be helped by training yourself to deflect or ignore rude comments.
  • speaking with a clear and calm voice, and
  • using appropriate language for the situation.

By maintaining a professional demeanor, both through hygiene and presence, you are more likely to resolve the problem.

c. Reactions

All of us have certain expressions or phrases that cause us to react with anger, humiliation, prejudice, or other negative emotions. Some reactions or statements that individuals might express include:

  • You can’t make me!
  • You’re not a cop!
  • I know my rights!
  • Do you know who I am?
  • You can’t arrest me!
  • You’re just a rent-a-cop!

Everyone has unique and individualized triggers. You will need to work to identify and recognize your triggers when they occur so that you can maintain composure when faced with them. When confronted with a verbal attack, recognize it for what it is and carefully choose how you will respond. Instead of reacting to the verbal attack, act thoughtfully in response to the situation.
Reacting without thinking will cause your personal trigger reactions to take over and escalate the situation.

There are two basic types of individuals you will encounter through your work as a security officer:

  • The first type will respond to your authority and requests by complying readily.
  • The other type will challenge you. This is not usually a personal response; they simply do not routinely respond to authority. They are not rule followers and will question and ask, “Why?” This opens a dialogue and requires further attention and response from you.

Both of these types of individuals deserve your respect. You always begin any dialogue where you are seeking voluntary compliance by asking, not demanding. Your voice should be clear and calm, with appropriate language and tone. By maintaining professional responses, you are more likely to resolve the problem.

II Ethics

Ethics is the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. It is important in that it develops ways for understanding and learning of moral duty and right or wrong. It is the framework that guides a person’s behavior. People who believe they have no duty other than to themselves will act differently than those who believe they have a duty to assist others in many circumstances. Ethics attempts to look at these differing approaches to determine if one view is better than another and then to generate discussion and consideration of differing views regarding the same problem.

Being professional includes being ethical. A security officer that is not ethical undermines the legitimacy of the position and the trust in the procedural justice system. Always keep ethics as an integral part of your personal and professional life.

a. Personal Ethics

Every aspect of human behavior is influenced by personal values, but values are not easily defined. Their definitions and interpretations vary from period to period, location to location, person to person, and situation to situation. Often, they are what lead us to tell the truth, keep our promises, or help someone in need. People typically reduce the idea of ethics to simple right and wrong. Though this is an oversimplification of the idea, it can be a good starting point for discussing the topic. There is a bedrock of morals underlying our lives on a daily basis. They typically help us make decisions that create positive impacts and steer us away from unjust outcomes.

Part of being ethical includes being objective, impartial, and neutral. Practice these ethical behaviors in your personal life as well as when you are representing the profession.

b. Workplace Ethics

Security companies should strive to instill workplace ethics. Workplace ethics are defined as a set of values, moral principles, and standards that need to be followed by both employers and employees in the workplace.

Examples of ethical behaviors in the workplace include:

  • obeying the company’s rules,
  • communicating properly,
  • taking responsibility,
  • holding others accountable,
  • demonstrating professionalism, and
  • showing trust and mutual respect for your colleagues and clients at all times.

Differences in priorities and values can complicate the relationship security companies have with their clients. If personal standards of right and wrong are not consistent with the law, a security officer’s actions may have negative consequences. If security officers fail to hold themselves accountable, the public’s perception will be that the security officer’s, or their co-worker’s, position as a whole is unjust. It ultimately erodes the legitimacy of security officers and security companies within society.

c. Model Code of Ethics of Security Guards

A model code of ethics that applies to security officers includes:

  • being honest and acting without bias or personal prejudice,
  • valuing and protecting the interests of their employer,
  • honoring and upholding confidentiality, and
  • performing duties with diligence, decorum, and professionalism.

As a security officer, you should ask yourself the following questions when you are considering a course of action to pursue:

  • Is it legal?
  • Is it permitted by my employer’s code of conduct or ethics?
  • How would it be viewed by my employer, the client, the public, or my family?
  • Does this conflict with any of my own personal ethical standards?
  • Is this something I would be ashamed of or later regret?
  • Am I acting on emotions only?
  • Am I thinking of how this could impact others?
  • Will there be consequences for my action or lack of action?