NZSA announces final Covid-19 Guardian Award

New Zealand Security Magazine - 05 June 2020 Update

Keisha Rihari
Award winner Keisha Rihari of FIRST Security. Image: NZSA.

New Zealand Security Association announces the fifth and final Covid-19 Guardian Award winner is Keisha Rihari from FIRST Security Guard Services in Northland.

According to the NZSA, Keisha has been recognised for her outstanding work in diffusing a potentially dangerous situation in a Northland bank. 

Just after the opening of a bank in Kaitaia a customer entered in an agitated state. Keisha spotted that they had a knife hidden on the inside of their arm. Keisha believed the customer was on drugs. 

The customer had an issue they wanted the bank to deal with. Keisha calmly encouraged the customer to put the knife away and de-escalated the situation to a point where it was safe enough for a bank worker to address the customer’s issue. Keisha remained with the bank worker while they gave the customer what they needed and then ensured they left the property. Although it could have been justified to call police both Keisha and the bank staff decided it was not necessary. 

The Senior Security Operations Manager for the bank was notified, as is the protocol, and contacted FIRST Security to pass on their thanks for Keisha’s quick thinking and actions.

According to Scott La Franchie, FIRST Security Guard Services’ GM Marketing & Product, “Keisha Rihari, was working with another security team who has been a true team player by helping out our FIRST Security Guards team and their customers during the COVID 19 lockdown.

“We are very proud of her actions during this incident by applying her training and experience to de-escalate a dangerous situation and ensuring the staff at the bank felt safe. She is a great staff member, always positive and is an exceptional security officer”

“As we saw with last weeks winner, holding a CoA (Certificate of Approval) licence helps empower guards with de-escalation training, and Keisha’s actions again show why,” said NZSA CEO Gary Morrison.

Enjoying this article? Consider a subscription to the print edition of New Zealand Security Magazine.

“Sometimes people attending banks and government institutions are in a heightened state of anxiety, and we know from past experience this can result in tragic outcomes for them and those serving their community. Keisha has done a brilliant job to keep the customer calm, preventing the situation from becoming violent, and with a weapon involved, ensuring no harm was made. Her actions seem extraordinary but they are also what we train for. A great job, and perfect outcome.”

The NZSA introduced the Covid-19 Guardian Award as a way for the wider community to recognise and say thanks to security personnel for their efforts. With over 25,000 New Zealanders working in the security industry, nearly double the number of police, private security has always had a critical role in keeping Kiwis and their property safe, especially during times of crisis.

The campaign received well over 100 nominations from all over the country. According to the industry association, judging was very difficult with many deserving guards missing out. The NZSA plans to recognise all nominees during their annual New Zealand Security Awards on August 7, along with the winners.