>> All of the solutions you propose would be performed by the guards in question. That they did not propose them speaks very poorly of them.
What makes you think they didn't? There are three typical answers when a guard approaches their supervisor with a suggestion. Stripped of niceness, they are:
1) "You're not paid to think."
2) "You don't like working here? Here's your last check, give me your badge."
3) "Good point. Let me run it by my boss. In the meantime, do it the company way."
In no case is the customer going to know.
>> The big problem with the guards (and not with the people who make the policies) are that they tend to act like mindless drones, with no willingness or capability to think creatively in the face of an unexpected situation.
When creativity is ACTIVELY PUNISHED by supervisors and managers, what do you expect? This is a garbage in, garbage out problem. TSA is merely the most extreme form of this.
This is particularly obnoxious in emergency situations. I recall one critical incident in which a guard responded as trained to a medical emergency. He went to the patient, dropped a first aid kit next to the patient, and ran off to open the bollards so that emergency vehicles could access the patient.
The client was furious. We pointed to the bold print in the post orders, inserted at client demand. "SECURITY WILL NOT PERFORM FIRST AID."
Common sense suggests that the guard should have stayed with the patient until someone else shows up (hopefully someone trained in first aid, which is an OSHA requirement in many places folks).
However the guard had been throughly trained to NOT do first aid (to the point of not knowing the contents of the sealed kit) and performed as expected.
I will bypass discussing the many situations in which the "right" thing to do is less obvious to the general employee or the public. Being told I'm an idiot for doing the right thing is part of the job description for this industry.
>> I want everyone I deal with to be able to think creatively in an unexpected situation, or to realize that they're out of their depth and contact someone who can.
I agree completely. This is what you pay for when you select security guards from a source other than the lowest bidder. Remember to insist on management that can also pour body fluids out of a boot, too.
>> But I can't expect it because most people are dolts.
Most people lack common sense. There is nothing about physical security which rises above the level of common sense.
So if most people had common sense and willingness to take ownership, there would be no need for security.
I fear not for my continued employment.