Chicago, the Windy City, has a hard reputation. There are certainly some upscale, wealthy neighborhoods, but there are plenty of others with legendary toughness. Some of its denizens like the city’s hardscrabble history. They know that not just anyone can survive in the Second City’s cold, wind-blown streets.
There are also certain jobs that are more dangerous than others in Chicago as well as everywhere else. Security guard happens to be one of those. This past week, one guard learned how perilous the industry is, to his detriment.
The Latest Incident
The incident in question occurred on Thursday at a Southwest Side Home Depot. There was an alleged shoplifter who a security guard confronted. The guard sustained an injury while grappling with the suspect and remains in the hospital in critical condition as of this writing.
The shoplifter had a gun, and a video exists of the guard and others wrestling with him. He gets away, pulls the weapon, and fires. Witnesses scatter, as always happens when someone discharges a firearm in public.
The suspect also shot a Chicago police officer in the shoulder while fleeing the scene. He didn’t get far, though. The police wounded him and subsequently arrested him. He died from his wounds before arriving at an area hospital.
The security guard will likely try to recoup the pain and suffering damages that he sustained. He might think twice about returning to work, though, even if he recovers fully.
The Security Guard Profession
This incident is not atypical. If a company hires you as a security guard, looking out for shoplifters is one of the main tasks that they might assign you. This duty falls into the retail security category, where you must patrol a store like Home Depot or stand at the front to watch for any suspicious behavior.
If you walk around Chicago, or any major city, for that matter, you’ll see security guards everywhere.
Most brick-and-mortar stores have them, not to mention museums, libraries, and even some public parks. They are fixtures to the point that they almost seem to blend into the scenery.
These security guards are not usually armed, either with a gun, a nightstick, or anything else. The exceptions are things like Brink’s truck guards who can legally carry firearms because they’re protecting large cash shipments.
Why Become a Security Guard?
At this point, you might wonder why someone would get into the security profession, at least at the entry-level. The fact that you don’t need to have a college degree for most of these jobs is one of the most obvious reasons.
If a Chicago high school student graduates but they don’t plan on going to college, they will often have to start looking for work immediately. Maybe they are moving out of their parent’s house, or perhaps they are staying there for the moment, but either way, they’ll want steady money coming in.
Companies often have security guard jobs available, and they don’t require a college degree to hire someone. Some of them don’t even need a high school diploma. That’s appealing for a young person who wants to start working immediately.
The Job’s Dangers and Drawbacks
There are some problems that go along with this profession, though. For one thing, an entry-level security guard job seldom pays very much. Many of them start at or just above minimum wage.
That’s because the many security companies operating in Chicago see their guards as interchangeable, and they’re not wrong to do so. If a guard company hires a recent high school graduate who has no additional training or qualifications, and that hiring does not work out, they can probably find another recruit with minimal effort.
The other issue, at least from the guards’ way of thinking, is that this is a potentially dangerous profession where serious injury can occur. The shoplifter shooting the Home Depot guard this week is the perfect example of that.
As a guard, you have no license to carry a weapon in most cases, and you also do not have the police’s power to arrest or even detain someone. Because of this, some guards don’t quite know what to do even if they spot a shoplifter or encounter a troublesome individual.
As a security guard, you may be in uniform, but you’re still a private citizen with no additional rights or powers. If you try to put your hands on a shoplifter, it’s just the same as if you grabbed a stranger when both of you were walking down the street. They can very easily decide to fight back, which is just what the unfortunate Home Depot guard discovered.
Guards Need to Prioritize Their Health
If you get into the security profession, at least at the entry-level, you will find that it is thankless work. Since the companies regard you as disposable, they probably won’t treat you respectfully.
You might get healthcare, but it likely won’t be too great. The pay is lousy, and the company might not give you a steady schedule, at least at first.
On top of all of that, the company will often ask you to detain shoplifters if you’re doing retail security. If a situation like what happened at Home Depot arises, you should never put your hands on the thief. You can physically block their path, and you can tell them to stop, but if you get overzealous and attempt to grab them, they might shoot or stab you.
It’s not worth dying or sustaining a serious injury for minimum wage. In any event, stores like Home Depot have insurance that will pay for any goods that thieves take.
Chicago security guards should view the incident this past week as a warning and a cautionary tale. As a guard, you are not a police officer, despite your uniform. If you get into this profession, and you let your perceived authority go to your head, you could end up in a hospital bed or worse.