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Security Gates vs. Security Guards? Which Option is Better for Your Business?

Every business needs to set up a security system to protect their inventory, employees, buildings, equipment, and customers. That starts with fire detectors in every room and locks on all of the doors and windows, but it can also include alarm systems, motion detectors, fences, barbed wire, security cameras that are live and recorded, security gates, and armed or unarmed security guards. If your business is trying to choose between hiring security guards and purchasing security gates, how do you know what the best option is for your business? After determining the exact budget parameters for security, the first step is to compare the pros and cons of both options.

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The Pros and Cons of Security Gates

The Pros: A security gate is a one- time- only purchase. The cheapest types are made of wood or aluminum, and can cost between one hundred and eight hundred dollars. The top of the line steel or aluminum models that come with tire spikes, motion detectors, alarms, and automated key card access can cost up to two or three thousand dollars. Although daily power use and routine upkeep are required, the majority of the cost of a security gate is up front and finite. Security gates are in action on the grounds twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. If your business’ budget for security is small or unable to support the long- term needs of full time security guards who are on watch night and day, purchasing a gate might be the way to go.

The Cons: Security gates are only set up at certain locations. They can prevent unauthorized intruders but, unlike humans, they can’t move, prevent those thefts from happening in the first place by spotting trespassers ahead of time, or contact the police for extra help. The initial costs can also add up rather quickly. Businesses need to buy the equipment, pay for it to be installed, get employees trained on how to operate it, provide maintenance, and upgrade the equipment as needed. The entire device may need replaced if it is damaged, for example, by a vehicle. In summary, a security gate would cost less in the long run but it won’t be as effective.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Security Guard

Pros: There are different types of security guards. Some, called standing guards, stay in one location, such as at the gate to a business or at a security desk just inside the front door. Others “patrol” or walk around the property watching out for fires, thefts, and vandalism. Unlike security gates, security guards are mobile. They can guard any location. Additionally they can identify threats early. Security guards are able to confront trespassers before they try to break in and, in the process, cause costly damage the property or equipment. They can also use a weapon as needed and contact the authorities if the threat to the business is greater than they are expected to handle. Typically guards will submit a daily activity report. Their notes and observations highlight any threats to the company or any anomalies in the employees’ behavior. A security guard is ideal if a business is at a high risk for burglary.

Cons: The cost of a security guard is a major con. The money depends on how often he / she is needed, what their duties are, and if they are armed with a gun, or going unarmed. Twenty six thousand dollars is the average salary for security guards in the United States. Unarmed guards are generally paid twelve to twenty dollars per hour and security guards armed with a weapon gets eighteen to twenty five dollars per hour. That amount can double to forty to sixty dollars per hour of the guard is an off- duty police officer. Armed security guards automatically come with additional liability and insurance issues. Like any other employee they would need benefits and supervision.

Businesses have to submit an application and pay fees to the state department to get permission to have a security guard on the premises, especially if they are needed full time at an airport, an apartment complex or a store that is open all day and night. Some guards work part time or only at events. Restaurants, night clubs, and concerts or other forms of entertainment venues contract security guards as needed. The cost is vastly reduced when a guard is only needed for four hours instead of eight or twenty four. One option a company could choose would be to have a security guard only at night when the rest of the employees have gone home.

However, those same employees might appreciate and find comfort in a security guard that is on duty while they are at work. In addition to watching for burglars, security guards can check out who is operating vehicles that are entering the property, and keep an eye out for anyone who might rob or damage the cars in the employee parking lot. In summary, security guards, especially full time patrol guards, will cost more in the long term than a security gate, but will also be more effective against trespassers.

Ideally, if a business can afford it, the best solution would be to choose both options – to combine the strength, stability and lower cost of the security gate with the vigilance of a human eye, not to mention a protective weapon. It never hurts, and it is always helpful to have a very visible security booth on the premises that includes a gate, key card or even a finger print access, one security guard who can see every inch of the grounds on multiple surveillance cameras, plus one or two more guards on constant patrol. If your business is small and in a relatively safe location, then the risk is low and a security gate might be adequate. But if you determine that your company is high risk, whether because of the valuable inventory or because of its location, go with a security guard.

Are you looking to install security gates at your business? Call us at 718-614-0616 or e-mail for more information.

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