Before I proceed, for anyone looking to get into the security industry, G4S Secure Solutions, Inc., formerly known as The Wackenhut Corporation, is a fantastic company, and an ideal place to start. And, if you become an employee, you can transfer to anyone of their locations anywhere in the world, including the Bahamas.
Now, G4S isn’t the best paying company out there, but their not the worst either. Depending on your location, and the post, how much you make hourly will vary. This is my story about working as a Bank Protection Officer for G4S at various Bank of America locations in the Reno, Nevada area, which began in February, 2017.
If you have ever been to Bank of America, you may have noticed a bank guard standing outside the bank, with a duty belt and .38 special revolver on their hip, small can of pepper spray, usually wearing sun glasses, an all black uniform and a white polo shirt, some really tactical looking exterior body armor, and a black baseball cap with a G4S logo. And, sometimes underneath an umbrella, which I will also talk about later.
One might wonder, why in the heck would Bank of America have security on the outside of the bank? Well, it’s actually very simple. The FBI reports that there are approximately 5,000 bank robberies reported each year. Furthermore, bank robbers, just like any criminal or terrorist, tend to look for soft targets. This means that bank robbers aren’t looking for a challenge, but are in search of the opposite. A target which is easy, and wide open for them to seize opportunity. That’s were security guards come into play.
Another reason why Bank of America decided to contract security guards is a result of the foreclosure protests of 2011. Bank of America took those protests so serious that they had specific orders and protocol on how Bank Protection Officers were too respond to any potential protests.
There is a pro and a con to having a bank security guard, that is, although officer presence acts as a deterrent, and more likely than not, if a bank robber scouts a bank to rob and spots a security officer on the outside of the bank, that bank robber will move on to the next target until they find a bank without security. On the other hand, FBI statistics show that banks which have guards and get robbed will much more likely experience a violent robbery rather than non-violent.
With G4S, the Bank Protection Officer’s job is to be a deterrent. The post consists of standing outside of the bank for about 8.5 hours a day, with Fridays usually consisting of a 9.5 hour shift, and Saturdays being a short day that lasts about 4.5 hours. During a typical workday, Officers are granted two 15 minute breaks, and one 30 minute lunch break. Besides that, there are some exceptions which are weather specific, but for the most part, Officers are expected to be posted outside of the bank and in a standing position.
My Bank Protection Supervisor at the time, Michael League, was very straightforward on the post orders. And, it made sense, that is, that is what the client wants, thus, that is your job if you sign up for it. Some guys would get so bored out of their mind just standing their, they start leaning up against the wall while playing on their phone. Michael hated that, and it drove him nuts having to look at video surveillance footage of Bank Protection Officers goofing off on the job. And I didn’t understand it at first, but after working several months on the job, you start looking for ways to make your job easier.
I was always pretty particular about my work, in that; I like to do things the proper way, as I am trained, and if I criticize others, rest assured I do the same to myself as I am my own worst critic. However, what I learned about security jobs is, they often demand more than what they are paying for.
The G4S office in Reno was a good place to be. Michael was a good Supervisor and an intelligent guy to talk with. Dennis, the fella who trained me was probably one of the best instructors ever, and really was passionate about giving presentations, and Dana with HR was amazing and made the on-boarding process simple. The Branch Manager, Kim Boharsik, is the sweetest boss you can work for, and really did try hard to keep me before I resigned.
As Michael had taught me, G4S is a great company, but with as with all great companies, they just get too big to where they have layers and layers of management, which becomes tedious after a while if you are trying to get things done around the office, like order new supplies.
Not to digress, but I have to talk about the sun umbrellas. During the summertime, Reno temperature gets up in the 90’s, and with an external bulletproof vest and wearing all black BDUs, it gets hot, especially if you are posted at the Bank of America branch near the Grand Sierra Resort Casino where the sun is blasting you for your entire shift. Thus, Michael had to get approval to get sun umbrellas at certain locations where there is no shade or cover from the sun, which took months to put into effect, and really says a lot about corporate.
I worked as a Bank Protection Officer for approximately 5 months. I originally got the job while working part-time for the Transportation Security Administration, thus, was in dire need of a full-time income. After signing on with G4S, I realized that I was burning my self out trying to work two jobs at once, so I quit the TSA and stayed with G4S full time.
Some folks might be wondering, why does G4S equip their Bank Protection Officers with .38 special revolvers? Well, it’s simple. It is per the client’s request, as revolvers are easy to use, have little recoil, and require no real training, even though Officers are expected to have a valid Nevada Guard Card with a Firearms Permit (which is just a matter of a 3 day course, and firearms qualification at the range). And, because revolvers stand out, thus, make an Officer appear to be more intimidating.
Prior to moving to Reno, I briefly worked for the Nevada’s Department of Corrections as a Correctional Officer at a Maximum Security Prison in Ely, Nevada. Being I had successfully completed NDOC’s Correctional Academy, I had the credentials of what is known as a Category III Peace Officer. It was this record of training which qualified me for other posts with G4S which entry level officers do not qualify for. This is important for anyone looking to work for G4S, as any prior law enforcement and/or military experience will give automatically qualify you for better posts.
At that time, G4S only had several posts in the Reno area, with Bank of America being their biggest, followed by Renown Health, and a few others. Just like most security jobs in Reno, G4S has a high turnover rate, mainly because of the Bank of America posts, as most people don’t really last long working that gig. I remember being extremely excited about working that post, mainly so because it was my first armed security job. Something that I aspired towards ever since I started working Casino Security in 2015.
The Bank Protection Officer post was all about Officer Presence, and Observe and Report. That’s really it. You get to the bank, clock-in, and stand outside all day watching people. What was really interesting is that was once of those posts where you didn’t really have to consider Customer Service. I mean, there was no rules against common courtesy, but the way our post orders were written up, being so rigid, you could stand in front of the bank all day with a serious look on your face with minimal engagement with the public and no body would really care. It was completely understandable.
But as shy of a person that I can be, I still took the time to get to know the public and would often chat with people. That’s probably the best life training you can get, since when people are visiting the bank they are more focused on their money, so they’re not really thinking about you, but when you do engage in conversations in that kind of environment, there tends to be more value in the content of information being exchanged. I really did meet some fun and interesting people working those bank posts, no matter how boring some days were.
For the most part, there were no incidents at this job, and it was very mundane and routine. The only one time I almost had an incident was when I was working one of the most prestigious branch locations in town and was approached by a really strange and bizarre character who began ranting about conspiracy theories and nitro methane gas, at which point I pulled out my notepad and wrote down his description and vehicle information which I would later report to the authorities. Even one of the bank relationship mangers, Ron, couldn’t believe I reported the guy. It was pretty funny.
Oh, and there was that one time I really liked one of the girls that I worked with, a hot brunet named Ashley, at a branch location where we met on S. Virginia, just next to Whole Foods. So, being the romantic I am I decided to secretly send her flowers. Hilarious thing was that there are two girls named Ashley who worked at that location at the time, and I didn’t think I would ever work that particular bank again as that wasn’t my usual post. Anyhow, I did end up going back to work at that location after sending the flowers, and when I had went on my lunch break in the break room, she was right there, sitting and chatting with a co-worker.
She must’ve received the flowers, because by her look and attitude, she knew. I didn’t say anything, and neither did she, but I think she was kind of flattered. I eventually got a chance to talk to her and gave her my number. I don’t think she ever called, but hey, I don’t blame her, sometimes being “too nice” will put you in the “little brother friend zone” by default. Did I mention that I was drinking a lot of beer at time, it came with the job.
I got so exhausted from the boredom of working as a Bank Protection Officer, that I began pursuing other security jobs, and had set my sights on mobile patrol with Securitas. Simultaneously, I was also pursuing a career with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and had already applied and taken the Computer Based Testing for the job opening in Blaine, Washington. I had prospects and was optimistic, but even more so excited about trying out different security companies, and during that year I had worked for a total of 8 different security companies.
Some Bank of America branches decided to ditch G4S as they had installed bulletproof glass windows at their locations. Didn’t really bother me any, as I was getting ready to quit anyway. After about 5 months on the job, I put in my resignation, but was contacted by Kim, the Branch Manager, who wanted me to stay with G4S, and even offered me the post at Renown Health, but by then I had secured the mobile patrol job with Securitas, which I really wanted at the time, and made the decision to move on to work patrol.
All in all, your experience with any security company, or any job for that matter, is what you make it. Not all work is for everyone, and this job was great temporarily, and was my ticket to obtaining the firearms licensing necessary for other future jobs which I would later pursue, but working there long term, unless you’re climbing the corporate latter, was just unrealistic.