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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

The Proactive and Reactive Dichotomy in Security Roles

Updated: May 28

In our society, the role of the police typically follows a reactive model. Primarily, the police are focused on the aftermath of criminal activities—engaging in arrests and carrying out investigations of crimes that have already occurred. They also maintain a visible presence through general patrolling of public spaces and handling emergency situations. This approach, which is fundamentally reactive, contrasts sharply with the responsibilities undertaken by private security firms.

Private security, in stark contrast to public law enforcement, adopts a predominantly proactive stance. These entities are more engaged in the business of preventing crime than reacting to it. Their efforts are geared towards creating and sustaining an atmosphere of safety, which involves proactive measures to deter criminal activity and to instill a general feeling of security among the populace they serve. Unlike law enforcement officers, whose primary function is to respond to crimes and enforce public laws, private security personnel focus on identifying potential threats and averting them before they materialise.

Further distinguishing between the two, private security professionals are often tasked with safeguarding specific assets. They implement and adhere to the policies of the private entities that employ them, rather than enforcing public statutes. While public law enforcement’s responsibilities are oriented towards the community or society at large—emphasising a broader social obligation—the duties of private security are tailored to the specific needs and safety of their clients. Essentially, the guiding principle for private security is accountability to the clients who compensate them for their services.

This bifurcation in roles underscores a fundamental difference in approach and priority between public police forces and private security operatives. Taxpayers support public law enforcement, and they are accountable to the state, not individual liberty. Private security, on the other hand, receives funding from specific clients and serves interests that are unique to those who hire and pay them. This distinction not only highlights the varied methodologies for maintaining law and order but also raises questions about the efficacy and focus of reactive versus proactive security measures in our contemporary context.

 From the author.

 The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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