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Angie Wieck, Published July 15 2012

It's My Job: Mall security officer says much of job is public relations

FARGO – Kirby Sandvik’s work motto is “prevention, not apprehension.” As branch manager of Advance Security, the firm contracted to provide security at West Acres, he believes that officer presence is the key to providing a pleasant shopping experience for shoppers and retailers alike.

Sandvik recently sat down to talk about the services security officers provide at West Acres.

Q. What does the typical day involve?

We do a lot of patrolling both inside and outside. Our prime objective here is officer presence. We want people to know we’re here to help and assist them in any way we can, whether it’s helping them find a store to if they’ve lost their vehicle or something like that. The mall’s stance, as is ours, is to always make sure they come here smiling and that they leave here smiling.

What is the most common thing officers do?

Directions are the biggest thing. A lot of people aren’t here that often or have never been here, so they look to us or West Acres employees to find out where certain stores are.

Do you often assist with lost children?

We don’t get a lot of that, but we do get one or two a year. … What we do is have all the security officers looking for the child. We get on the radios and radio all of them and all employees and management of West Acres so that everyone knows what the child is wearing, how old the child is, the height, etc. Everybody that works here is looking for that child. We generally find the child within a minute.

If there is suspected theft, what role do security officers play?

We come to the store to assist the store because they’re the victim. As security, we have to witness it happen, so we can only assist with what their (the store’s) wants and needs are. It’s their decision whether to call the police.

… Our job has more of a public relations aspect than anything. Do we have to do some things on the law enforcement end, yeah, but we don’t really want to do that. We have the Fargo Police Department take care of a lot of that for us. … We have a very good working relationship.

What would you want people to know about security officers at West Acres?

We try to treat everybody fairly and honestly. … We’re doing a job, and I think we’re doing a job that is very helpful to the public when they are here. We’re the frontrunners to everything that happens here. If a medical situation occurs, we’re the first ones here taking care of the person. We do crowd control and things like that. We’re a pretty valuable asset to the mall.

We always want to make sure we’re in the business of prevention and not apprehension. We don’t want to make arrests if we don’t have to. We don’t want to badger anybody. We want them to have a pleasant experience here. As long as they adhere to the code of conduct, as we call it, we don’t have a problem with anyone out here.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501