By Peter White
NASHVILLE, TN – Tequoia Radley, 20, has a GED certificate, no criminal record, and doesn’t take drugs. She lives with her mother and eight siblings in Section 8 housing in Nashville. Someday she wants to be a police officer.
“I’m looking for a good job and I like helping people and protecting people. And I can work well with others,” she said.
Radley may soon be working for Allied Universal Security Services in a MDHA housing project. Radley filled out an application, took a drug screen test, and interviewed for a security guard job last Saturday.
“It’s all about visibility,” says Brett Patterson, who manages 1500 guards at about 120 locations in Nashville. Allied Universal is one of the biggest security firms in the US with 150,000 employees and in Nashville its security guards patrol MDHA housing projects.
They also provide security for the Titans, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Vanderbilt University, Bank of America, and downtown parking lots.
“Our goal is prevention. Say we have three buildings all alike. I teach the students if someone is standing at parade rest, looking back and forth in full uniform and looking sharp and you are a bad guy or gal, which building are you not going to go into? That’s the value, “ says Patterson.
The U.S. security industry has revenues of $350 billion according to a 2013 industry study and the market is growing. Here are some grim statistics: in 2016, hospitals reported 19,360 violent incidents. About one quarter of “active shooter events” occur in schools. Attacks in theaters and hotels have increased.
And 375 million people visit amusement parks and other attractions every year in the U.S., cybercrime is growing faster than kudzu. All of this news is bad but it represents growth potential for security firms and more security jobs for the unemployed. Security guards are just one part of a huge and growing industry.
Security guards die on the job twice as often as other workers, according to a December 2010 study of the security industry. Between 2003-2009 an average of eight guards per 100,000 died while on duty. More than half of those killed on the job (51%) were murdered. The highest cause of injuries and the second highest cause of death among guard are due to falls.
Security work can be dangerous. But Patterson says in his five years with Allied only two officers have died. Allied officers put in 43,000 hours per week providing security at various Nashville locations. Some are armed, most are not.
“Our job is to deter, detect, observe, and report,” It’s not to chase down, its’ not to tackle, it’s not to shoot. You observe suspicious activity, look for behavioral clues that you see and call it in,” Patterson says.
Starting pay is between $8.50 and $10 per hour. Applicants must be citizens, 18 years old, and pass two background checks. Armed guards must also pass a psychological test before they are hired and all guards must be licensed by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.
Lucas Foley, 24, finished a five-year hitch in the Navy. He was deployed twice to the Persian Gulf and when he got out he moved back to Springfield to be near his family. He wants to land a job at a Hendersonville parking lot with Allied.
“I’m just trying to put a feeler out in the civilian world. I want to put my feet in a few things to see what I like, “ he said.
“A lot of those who don’t think they’re jobs available, there are, and it’s a stepping stone for those that want to make a career in security. There’s that potential,” says Patterson.
“I think a lot of people think when they see a security officer they think that’s all they’ll ever be. No, there is a lot of churn in the upper levels that’s because it’s a hard job. One manager handles 40 different clients. You can imagine how many phone calls, how many different schedules. They have to do the payroll, and with different rates. I look for people who are ready to take the next step,” he said.
Patterson says Allied has more than 500 on line courses its employees can take to move up in the company.
Patterson said they are always accepting applications at their Nashville office on Marriott Drive off Elm Hill Pike. Or you can apply here: www.aus.com
“We welcome anybody from MDHA, from that community, to apply. It’s an opportunity to have a career and you don’t have to have a degree.”