Report writing is one of the most important parts of the job for the security guards. Good report writing, that is accompanied by photos, if need be, provides a clear picture of what happened in the building during a said time period. It offers the property manager information on items that must be followed up on, fixed, taken into account, etc. Security reports are also legal documents that can be used in a lawsuit. A properly written security report could mean the difference between winning and losing a lawsuit. So, how do you ensure that the reports are of sufficient quality? How do you ensure that the reports provide the information that the property management needs and that the reports cover the corporation’s liability? A few guidelines are listed below.
All security reports must be written in 3rd person. There is no “I” or “we”. If the security guard talks about himself in the report, he should identify himself as “the writer” or “security guard John Smith”. For example: “S/G John Smith started patrol of the underground parking” or “The writer issued parking tickets to the following vehicles”.
All reports must be done using 24hr clock and all times must be mentioned without rounding-off to the nearest 5 minutes, which I often see. When something happens and the reports go to court, there could be a huge difference between 02:32 and 02:35.
Security reports should only contain objective/factual information. There is no room for judgement and opinions in a security report. For example, if there is no heat in the hallways, the guard should report exactly that. Security guard should not speculate on the reasons for that, as the security guard is not qualified to make that judgement (even if he has an engineering background).
Below is a brief overview of the major types of the security reports.
Daily Occurrence Reports
Daily Occurrence Reports (DORs) are the most comprehensive security reports. A DOR is to be updated throughout the shift. A separate DOR is to be generated for every shift. DOR is an account of everything that happened during the shift that could be of any importance. A DOR would normally have two columns: time and event. Some of the events that would make it into the DOR are:
- Time security guard arrives on duty.
- Time every patrol is started and time every patrol has ended.
- Other times when security guard leaves the desk and times when he returns. Note it is important to include both the times security guard leaves and comes back. If anything happens, one of the first questions would be about the location of the security guard at the time of the event.
- Parcels dropped off/picked up
- Contractors on site
- Amenity bookings made
- Maintenance/security issues discovered
- Any other items that are of any importance to the building operations
Incident reports are to be written for out-of-ordinary events that need special attention. Do not be mistaken by the word “incident”. Incident reports do not necessarily have to be for something very bad and doesn’t have to be very long. It can be 4-5 sentences describing a noise complaint and what was done about it.
Attention to detail is very important here and will be more important for more significant incidents. If the report has potential to end up in court – it must be written well, with all available information included. It is very important to identify people mentioned in the report. First and Last name is preferred, but is not always known. Police officers, paramedics, fire fighters, can be identified by their badge numbers. When describing a suspect, if name is not known, description should include gender, approximate age, approximate height, eye and hair colour, approximate weight, race, attire, anything else that could help identify the suspect, i.e. scar on the left cheek, mole under the right eye.
Should an emergency occur, it is very important that all events are described in as much detail as possible, most significantly, the exact time they occurred. I.e. what time the fire alarm was activated, what exactly was the message on the fire panel, what time the fire fighters arrived, what time did the firefighters gave permission to re-set the fire panel, what time the elevators and mag-locks were reset, etc.