Reviews of Guarding the Gates

Book Review

Reviewed by: Rose L. Murillo, M.A., SPHR
Title: Guarding the Gates: Calming, Control and De-escalation of Mentally Ill, Emotionally Disturbed and Aggressive Individuals (A Comprehensive Guidebook for Security Guards)
Authors: Ellis Amdur, M.A., N.C.C., C.M.H.S. and William Cooper, M.B.A., M.P.A.
Complete reference: Amdur, E. & Cooper William C. (2011). Guarding the Gates: Calming, Control and Deescalation of Mentally Ill, Emotionally Disturbed and Aggressive Individuals (A Comprehensive Guidebook for Security Guards). Edgework: Shoreline, WA. ISBN: 987-0-9823762-5-6.

Summary overview/theme of the book: “Individuals suffering from psychiatric or substance use disorders sometimes display any one of a number of frightening behaviors: verbal outbursts, physical threats and even violence. Security guards must frequently deal with such individuals in locations as varied as hospital emergency rooms, shopping malls, places of business and isolated warehouses in the middle of the night. In this comprehensive guidebook, Ellis Amdur and William Cooper offer security guards a comprehensive set of strategies to keep themselves, those they are protecting and the general public safe, while functioning at the highest level of professionalism.”

Review: In the wake of horrific occurrences such as we have seen in Newtown, Connecticut and other tragic events at schools and places of work, many people have begun discussions about something that they may not have thought about before – what would they do if this happened to them? There can be many answers to this question, but one of them usually is to become better informed and prepared. This book is one of those resources to use in better understanding how to handle a situation dealing with an individual reflecting aggressive or emotionally escalated behaviors.

Value to a Human Resource professional
Many HR professionals have been entrusted with managing safety or security functions within organizations due to the recent economic downturns, as a means to streamline organizations. What this means is that these HR professionals who may be extremely well-qualified in their area of expertise, are now functioning in areas outside of their training and experience, and need resources to help them make day-to-day as well as strategic decisions. This book is one of those essential resources.

“…the fear that now arises within you doesn’t mean that you are helpless….A belief that you are helpless…is an interpretation, not a fact.” (pg. 99); this is an empowering statement, especially for those individuals unfamiliar with these kinds of extreme behaviors, particularly in their work environment. There are specific reasons attributed to the behaviors of individuals, and having a better understanding of these reasons and being empowered with the tools in how to respond effectively is imperative.

Value to a Safety/Security professional
Security professionals are often the first individuals responsible for de-escalating a potentially violent or emotionally charged situation in a workplace. Only with appropriate, informative training and education can they have the tools to manage these situations effectively. This book provides detailed information specific to situations that may happen to security officers, and shares realistic steps that can be taken to achieve success.

This book is essential for those whose role either places them into direct contact with individuals that may be exhibiting aggressive behavior or are in a role where they manage or plan for those that provide direct response. It is easy to read and understand, and provides clear direction in effectively providing a safe environment for yourself and others.