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Preparing Your Security Guards to Testify in Court

How to Prepare Your Security Guards to Testify in Court

With the growing demand for security guards across industries like healthcare and retail, an increase in lawsuits against security guard companies is emerging, necessitating the companies to prepare security guards in case they need to testify in court. From handling lawsuit claims to offering witness testimony about a crime, it’s increasingly probable that guards will take the stand as part of their job.

That introduces a headache for security companies. Guards aren’t really trained to testify in court. Unless they come from a certain police background, they probably don’t have any experience with it in the past. However, they still need to act properly, represent your company, and be as accurate as possible.

That’s a lot to ask of a guard who has rarely, if ever, been in court. Let’s take a look at a few basic bits of advice to help prepare guards and avoid any legal problems.

Ask Your Attorney for Prep

This step should be the first and most helpful for any situation where your security guard needs to testify. Attorneys have lots of experience coaching witnesses who have never been to court before, and are capable of handling nervous guards. They can provide training on how to speak, what evidence to give, body language, and much more.

Perhaps most importantly, an attorney can contact the defense/opposing attorney and ask for additional information about the case. They will also be able to understand the goals of the opposing attorney and the questions they’re likely to ask. That’s invaluable to help guards know what to expect, prepare their answers, and understand what the line of questions will cover. By leaving these steps in the hands of an experienced attorney, you’ll save time and a lot of anxiety on the part of your security guards. Remember, good liability insurance will cover many fees associated with defending yourself against a lawsuit.

Have Your Guard Thoroughly Review Reports and Evidence

Many court dates for guards occur because of a specific incident they witnessed or took part in. But security guards have an advantage for this kind of testimony, similar to police officers. They already wrote out a report for the incident, and they may have additional evidence to review.

Guards should always take time to review both their report and the reports of any other guards who were at the scene. This not only refreshes their memory but helps them fill in key details (and additional notes) in any longer explanations they may have to give. Guards can also review police reports related to the incident, any security cam footage of the incident (especially helpful), and other types of evidence that may be available.

Remember, court testimony frequently occurs years after the incident, so this kind of review is vital. Ultimately, guards should know the incident and their perspective on it inside and out before testifying. This also helps avoid any accidental embellishments, mistakes, or incorrect information that could wreck the testimony.

Review Policies, Manuals, and Training Requirements

Guards will not only be asked questions about specific events and their own experience, but they will also field questions about the security organization, its policies, and its practices. If guards aren’t sure about a specific policy, or don’t remember the company’s stance on a specific practice, it can look very bad on the witness stand.

To prevent these problems, give guards time to review company policies ahead of their testimony (if your employee handbook is out of date take a look at this example from Siyoneth). Focus specifically on policies and manual instructions that apply to the situation, and how these coincided with the guard’s actions.

Always Stay Brief

While attorneys will help coach guards, as a general rule you can remind them to always be brief and direct. Guards should not be giving their personal opinions on the stand (even if they may be asked them). Instead, they should keep their answers concise and focused only on the events that happened. This also helps guards stay honest, and avoid any incorrect information that may come up.

Check Your Training Records

Always provide your attorney with training records for guards who will be testifying. You’ll want to provide documentation for any training courses, hands-on training, classes, exams taken, or studies done to maintain certification. That can apply to anything from firearm training to cognitive bias training. All of this can be helpful to your attorney, and as a way to bolster your guard’s testimony.

It’s important to gather these records early on. Sometimes training isn’t always well-documented, especially guard-by-guard, so you may need to dig for the right records or request new information from training organizations.

Focus on Reasonable Efforts to Avoid Harm

When in doubt, focus testimony on reasonable efforts to avoid harm. That includes both preventing harm when restraining/stopping violence, and preventing harm to others through guidance or other steps. This is generally the most effective route to reduce risks when testifying and strengthening testimony or defense.

Final Notes

Security guard testimony doesn’t have to be a pain. An experienced attorney will help guards prepare, and there will be plenty of reports and evidence to review ahead of time. It is important to give guards the necessary time to study reports and company policy ahead of their testimony so that they are well prepared.

El Dorado can provide premium protection at an affordable price. Give El Dorado Insurance a call today to make sure you are fully covered with the right Security Guard Insurance Policy. Call El Dorado Insurance today for your quote.

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