Working a security detail is not an “I” or a “Me” game. It is an “Us” proposition. A security officer or bodyguard who does not subordinate his or her own needs or “ego” in the interest of the client or the security team is likely to be a liability in a critical incident when the proverbial “balloon goes up”.

One of the purposes of the psychological examination of Pennsylvania Act 235 lethal weapons certification applicants is to evaluate your ability and willingness to tolerate uncertainty, stress, anxiety and frustration in the service of the mission and the group. Security professionals need to have patience and the ability to tolerate unexpected delays and frustrations with professionalism and appropriate behavior. As a security professional, you need to exercise good judgment and make conscious use of yourself when deciding on your course of action in a situation. And you need to be keenly aware of of other people’s responses to your own behavior and personality.

I routinely evaluate Act 235 applicants’ social judgment and comprehension, decision making ability, perceptual accuracy, ability to read people, understanding of the effects of their behavior on others, social appropriateness, and frustration tolerance, as part of the Act 235 psychological examination. This evaluation is based on my observations of an applicant’s behavior, and my support staff’s behavioral observations, as well as the applicant’s responses on the required MMPI-2 Test.

A summary of my behavioral observations and experience evaluating a past applicant clearly illustrates the above points. I had no choice but to fail this applicant on the psychological examination. I had never encountered an Act 235 applicant who was as disrespectful as this person was. This summary reads as a case example of what not to do in any type of assessment or interview situation.

From the outset of the examination session, this applicant demonstrated a hostile, oppositional and defiant attitude. She complained about the fact that she had to wait to be interviewed one-on-one by this psychologist, and that given the fact that she had signed the attendance list last, she was at the end of the list. She complained about one thing or another repeatedly to this examiner and his support staff, and she annoyed other applicants in the classroom while they took their MMPI-2 test. In front of the entire class of Act 235 certification applicants at that session, this applicant overtly criticized our procedures as being “unprofessional”, and threatened to report this examiner to all manner of “authorities”. Her outbursts disturbed other applicants as they took their test, and she was rude to my support staff, putting everyone on edge. Several applicants commented among themselves, as well as to me or my support staff, that this applicant was annoying, disruptive, and obnoxious.

In her 1-to-1 private clinical interview with me, this applicant was predictably short, evasive, disrespectful, and markedly guarded. She tried to intimidate by exaggerating her background, her current job, and her connections. She stated she had previous firearms training, but admitted when questioned further, that she had received this training “years ago” when she took her Act 235 training for the first time. She had let her Act 235 certification lapse. This applicant was also reluctant to answer personal questions.

In sum, this applicant’s personality was mercurial and her temperament irascible. Judgment was deemed poor as evidenced by her “making a scene” over having to wait to be interviewed. She demonstrated little patience, poor impulse control, and poor tolerance of uncertainty and stress. She acted as a “bully”. She bullied this examiner and his staff and annoyed other applicants. This applicant’s ability to cooperate and to be a team player in a security position based on her demonstrated behavior was deemed to be very poor. I had no choice but to fail this applicant on her psychological examination.