by Samuel Brooks
In 2019, I worked for an international private security and protection contractor (#1 in its industry) where I was stationed in Lansing and was responsible for accounts across Michigan but could also be sent anywhere in the U.S. if need be.
When I first received the call and email from a recruiter in Texas, I was excited! The salary and benefits were major components as to why I took it. I had to fill out 30 different forms and had background checks that lasted about a month, as well as drug/alcohol tests and physical exams before I had to leave to start orientation and training in Detroit for a week prior to approximately a month and a half of field training at the Lansing branch where I would be in command of a team while in the field after training. The instructors in Detroit were ex-military and ex-law enforcement so they trained as such. During one of the days when I was in Detroit, they had a photo on the screen of a guy that worked for the company in the hospital because he was cut severely. One of the instructors asked what do you think caused his injury? Based on his injury, I assumed a butcher knife or a machete. They said that it was actually a box cutter…someone snuck up on him. The cut started at the right shoulder and moved diagonally down his back. You could see several layers of muscle because the injury wasn’t stitched yet. The photo was left up – for what seemed like an eternity – because they wanted to make clear that there are serious repercussions if you’re not staying aware of your surroundings – regardless if you’re on or off duty.
Once I finished my training, it seemed like I was almost getting into altercations every other week while in the field and, on a couple occasions, I came close to drawing my duty firearm. I thank God that those situations never escalated to the point where I had no choice but to use lethal force! While we are trained to risk our lives in stopping threats, either in protecting ourselves and/or our clients, the goal of the job is to make it home safe every night; that was my goal and prayer every day for myself and everyone that I worked with. We weren’t there to make “friends” as we had a job to do and had to be stoic in our conduct. After a while, I didn’t look at certain people as image bearers of God (i.e. homeless, mentally ill (schizophrenics in particular), drug addicts) and I was wholeheartedly wrong for rebuking them. I also didn’t care what I was bringing onto my company vehicle as long as it wasn’t an IED (improvised explosive device) since we’re trained to identify them.
I also had a couple accounts that were adult stores. My issue wasn’t with the staff at these establishments; my issue was with the various products that they sold because of my religious convictions and having had dealt with an addiction to pornography (i.e. Playboy and Hustler) for approximately 11 years until the start of my junior year of college in January 2016. It’s like taking a recovering alcoholic and sending them to a bar. So I’d go in to do what I needed to do and then leave as quickly as possible while trying to not look at anything.
After a while, I was getting burned out with the job. Since I was working 55 hours per week on average, I had no social life outside of work as I started work between 6-7:30 am and didn’t get home until some time between 7-10:30 pm. Home didn’t feel like home but rather another hotel. There was a day shortly before I left the company where I was partnered with someone. He wasn’t much older than me and I don’t remember how we got on the topic of church but he basically said I used to go to church before I started working here [10 years] but I stopped going because this job wears you down and you’re owned by the company. If you get a chance to get out, take it! I took what he said as a sign from God. So, I took a week off after Labor Day and, during that time, my brother got me an interview at the farm market where he had been working. I took a big cut in pay and hours but made that up with a government contractor during my days off from the farm market. I was offered a position a few hours after I interviewed so I called my office to explain the situation and turned in my notice a couple days later. Besides the burnout factor, I left for personal family reasons that required me to be closer to home. While there are many things that I miss about my employment with the security contractor, the one thing that I miss the most is the camaraderie as they’re like family. Even though my coworkers and I had our differences, I would gladly give up my life for them if the situation asked for it (John 15:13). I have no issue with dying and certainly am not afraid of it because it’s inevitable as only God knows when my time’s up (James 4:14). Now, my original plan, if I decided to have stayed with the security contractor, was to work in my current position for a year and then get promoted to a Trainer and transfer to the Orlando branch where I’d move up to a District Training Manager position. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out like I had planned. I think God had something else in mind because I was putting the job above Him. Part of my oath involved “…supporting and defending the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” Even though I’m no longer employed with the company, I take my oath seriously today just as I did then.
I’m trying to be cautious as to what I share in regards to my experience in private security and protection contracting. The reason being, besides the privacy reasons and my oath, is that there was an instance where an employee had taken a photo of an item that he was responsible for and posted the photo onto his social media. That photo got shared by multiple individuals until it ended up being seen by someone that decided to kidnap the employee’s son and held him for ransom. While I’m slowly improving, I still have difficulties sleeping and, for a while, would have constant nightmares; however, I wouldn’t claim that I have PTSD due to my experience. I also don’t enjoy being in areas where there are large crowds or going to events where I don’t know 80-95% of the people at least as I struggle with a level of social anxiety more so having had worked in security than I did prior to it which results in me also checking around corners and aisles to ensure my safety, and I can’t stand people walking up behind me or trying to move behind me as it’s one of my biggest pet peeves and am more comfortable when I have a clear view of the entire room.
During one service I had attended, my pastor preached on Luke 22:54-62 (among others). He discussed how, like Peter, we have a tendency to “follow Christ from a distance.” I realized that I was doing just that by not taking a chance to put myself out there and live out my faith outside of church prior to, during and after I worked in security contracting. Due to not stepping out in faith because of fear of losing what I have and low self-esteem, I missed opportunities where I believe God was nudging me towards. Due to that, I have to give an account for the risks I didn’t take and it’s something I truly regret.
By getting more involved in church and Bible studies – as well as going on retreats – over the past 6 months, they have helped me therapeutically with re-adjusting and re-focusing my sights on what’s most important, along with a couple other hobbies of mine. I’m not a fan of starting over when it comes to my faith with having taken one step forward just to end up taking five steps back as I find the process frustrating but it’s where I’m at – just taking one baby step forward at a time.