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Did you know there is a force of well over one hundred thousand armed and armored uniformed individuals in America? What if I told you that most of them could NOT qualify for police work or service in the United States military.

They make barely over the minimum wage and are expected to work 50+ hours a week, every single week. Vacation and sick days often punished—sadly, not uncommon amongst lower-wage earning work.

The work is laborious. Hauling hundreds and hundreds of bricks of copper and nickel, weighing between 10 and 25 pounds each, and just as many bags, weighing double. Thousands of pounds, carried by hand and hauled by coal sack and cart with one hand, for 5-10 miles a day, up and down stairs and inclines, in and out of heavy foot traffic areas, all while wearing hot, heavy Kevlar. Every single week. 

An armored courier—the likes of which you’d meet working at Brinks, Dunbar, Guarda, Loomis, or any of the innumerable smaller-scale independent companies—can be responsible for ludicrous loads of liability. (That’s industry vernacular for anything that a courier takes into his or her custody. Typically paper and coin currency, but occasionally gold, jewelry, bonds, and the like.) Oftentimes at greater value than what one can find on hand at a bank or nearly any store.

Responsibility for value of that magnitude makes the armor and armament mandatory. When you have so much on the line, the potential for danger in the line of work is both obvious and legitimate. 

With that in mind, you would think that each of these companies would make sure that their employees are well-trained to use the equipment at hand to defend themselves in the event of a robbery.

Public safety is no place for a company to be “seeking a self-starter”

Now before I carry on with blowing the whistle on an industry that will not take kindly to it, please know that this is all only based on firsthand experience. I was employed by one of these companies for nearly a decade. I loved almost every minute of the job, and maintain contact with a number of my old partners and coworkers. In doing this work, I got to meet employees from all the companies listed and was able to compare notes. 

The only training allocated was an initial firearm safety course—squeezed in with training on truck condition reports, inventory manifests, and so much more—and “qualifying” with your sidearm annually (that's right, once a year). 

That yearly test of proficiency is determined with 50 rounds of ammunition and you can pass by being mostly pie-pan accurate on a motionless target at less than 10 meters.

Hauling thousands to even millions of dollars around in public while armed, and courier companies only provide a bare minimum of firearm and defensive training. 

One branch would cover a single box of ammunition to practice with a month, but that was not the norm. Another would sponsor one box and range time, but only if you could get your route finished in time to jump in your personal vehicle and drive two hours to practice, and only one Friday per month. Making it almost impossible to train.

Otherwise, the expectation was on the near minimum wage employee to see to their skills upkeep and seek training beyond what the company provided. While I and some like-minded employees did exactly that, it was certainly not an option to some of our family-oriented coworkers and colleagues, nor was it a priority for many of those hired.

When couriers who worked for other companies found out about what was available for training at our branch, they all indicated that we had it better. That meager effort was ahead of the curve for the industry. 

Underpaid.

Understaffed.

Under threat.

Under trained.

No call to action

There are nearly as many armored couriers in the United States as there are active-duty Marines. Every one of them carries a sidearm and near 50 rounds of ammunition. Almost none of them have trained under duress, or fatigued, or with adequate use of cover or with consideration or training on ballistic penetration or the use of force continuum. 

These companies provide the amount of training necessary so as to be able to deny responsibility in the event of a shooting. They can point at the bare minimum that they trained their labor pool, and say they did their part. Unfortunately, anyone who knows anything about active shooting knows how insignificant one trip to shoot static paper targets a year actually is.

If they are to carry similar to a peace officer and be in situations that can be just as lethal to themselves and others, shouldn’t an armored courier be trained similarly? Should they not understand when to escalate force and how to perform under stress? Should not the onus of absorbing the cost of training be on the multi-billion dollar international corporations and not their blue collar employees? After all, they are the ones who are improving their profit margins by increasing the danger to the general public.

Like GI Joe Said...

This is a complex issue with much nuance, but the first step is knowledge. The public has a right to know that this industry is putting them at risk by putting untrained shooters on the street en masse, and working them beyond cogency and health. I’ve no evidence of it ever being a public issue save when a courier robs or crashes their own truck, but it’s a recipe that has enough ingredients to make a tragedy.

If they can’t afford to keep their employees adequately trained and the public wellbeing maintained, then they can’t afford to do ethical business. 

When an industry does unethical business, Americans deserve to be informed.