A Mutually-Beneficial Partnership
The security industry and police enforcement have worked alongside one another for decades; together, they create a mutually-beneficial partnership. Both service groups fight crime and protect people, property, and valuable assets. As time goes on, trends show that more Security Officers are utilizing their experience in the industry to obtain Police Officer positions. They also use these jobs for advancements, promotions, and other law enforcement job opportunities.
A report released in 1985 showcased these numbers:
- There was roughly 1.5m licensed Security Officers employed at an annual expenditure of $52 billion
- Police Officers numbered in at 600,000 with an annual expenditure of $30 billion
This data creates a ratio of Security Officers to Police Officers of approximately 2.5-to-1. A similar report conducted in 2016 illuminates a drastic shift in career-direction of professionals in these industries. While the number of Security Officers nationwide has decreased, the number of Police Officers has increased. The figures from that report are as follows:
- The number of Security Officers reported was 1,113,900
- The amount of Police Officers actively working was 807,000 nationwide
The new data lowers the ratio from 2.5-to-1 down to roughly 1.4 Security Officers for each 1 Police Officer. The trend outlines the fact that many police duties have gradually become the responsibility of professionals in the security industry. Running private prisons, protecting sporting events, facilitating courthouse security protocols, and protecting hospitals were once commonly accepted police duties. More recently, these tasks have fallen onto the Security Officers who now work in these positions.
Following these trends, it seems that there is still a strong demand for Police Officers. Individuals working security have continually leveraged their experience in the industry to obtain more enticing roles within their local police departments. Police Officers are often more well-compensated, provided with a wider range of benefits, and are generally more sought after positions.
Moonlighting Security Positions
A different survey collected results from police agencies across the nation; together, these organizations employ roughly 20% of the police force in the United States. The study revealed that nearly 80% of police agencies allow their officers to moonlight security positions, and most allow them to do so in their police uniform.
Some take the extra job to make ends meet. Others pick up hours because the work is generally regarded as more administrative/clerical as opposed to field work. Regardless, public officials often contract their authority out to private businesses.
What does this mean for professionals in the security industry? It’s hard to determine without knowing exactly how many Police Officers work side-gigs. More interesting is that the greater majority of police agencies have no record of which officers are working for other businesses. Even the agencies that do keep track do not record the number of hours their officers are working while off-duty. While it may seem insignificant, these officers are representing their local agency and employing their authority, skill-sets, and equipment for another job.
Police and Security Officers alike share a dynamic relationship that provides versatile career opportunities. Their complimentary job duties and skill-sets provide a safer environment for all of those around them. Working in one industry provides an easy foot-in-the-door for finding work in the other.
If you are serious about entering the police force, obtaining a position in the security industry is the go-to way to gain relevant experience. And, since the majority of police agencies allow their officers to moonlight security jobs, you are always able to alternate your career duties.
The statistics regarding the current and past number of police/security officials can be found here.
The data concerning Police Officers that moonlight security jobs can be found here.