Matt Potter 9:30 a.m., April 16
- Community Blog
- Vista Blues
Those That Cannot Do--Protest (or make cruddy movies)!
"JUST DO YOUR JOB, PENCIL-NECK--DON'T TRY TO TELL ME HOW TO DO MINE!" --Unnamed NYPD Captain to EPA weenie Conrad Peck (Alan Rickman), from "Ghostbusters"
Folks, this will be one of my longer blog entries--so bear with me, OK?
I used to (and still hope to do so in the future) work in the security field. I will not tell you my former company's name, but know that it featured three red balls on a black background as it's logo.
My main focus was "observe-and-report"-type unarmed security. For nearly two years, I patrolled (or stood stationary guard posts) the client's store-or-factory, noting anything unusual, and calling in to my supervisor if neccessary.
If a bad actor was making off with merchandise (or was ripping off company property), I had to get in touch with the store-or-site manager AND HQ before busting said perp...then we called the police agency in the area to deal with the suspect.
The requirements for such work? Nothing like "Paul Blount--Mall Cop" or "Observe And Report"--to name two of the legion of movies that have as much to do with how things really work as a wild boar has in a petting zoo.
You first apply on-site, presenting your driver's license and Ca. Guard Registration Card (if you have a valid one with you) beforehand. The application includes a "Snellen" screening test...also given by retailers such as Walmart and Target to it's applicants.
You then go through an interview. It's not an easy one, but it's thorough. If the HR director likes what he-or-she sees, you are then scheduled for a drug test (some do them on-site). If you do not have a Guard Card, you will (depending on the company) be put through a P.C. 852 (Powers Of Arrest) course, your fingerprints Life-Scanned to Sacramento to run through the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and CCIC (California's version of NCIC) databases, and your drug screen results reviewed.
If you do (or have done) the following:
1.) Positive Drug Screen 2) Felony Criminal record in ANY State or Federal Jurisdiction (this includes the US MILITARY) 3) Lying on your application. 4) Any spousal abuse convictions 5) Failing the Snellen Screen 6)Failing the P.C. 852 Course 7)On Parole/Probation for ANY crime---
you will not be employed, and be told never to darken that company's door ever again.
The "Powers To Arrest" class is a real letdown for any gung-ho Barney Fife/Foxy Funderburke (the main villain from the book "Chiefs" by Stuart Woods) looking to gain glory. You see, a security officer's powers to arrest are no more than that of your average citizen!
Also, during the "Powers To Arrest'" class, you learn how private security works, how to deal with threats, and other subjects your company thinks you need to know. Tests are open book (at some companies).
Once you pass P.C. 852 (unpaid time), then you wait for the "Green-Golden Ticket"--your DCA-BSIS California Guard Registration card. Once you recieve that in the mail (takes up to six weeks), then you go back to the office to get your uniform, badge, Employee Handbook...and your first assignment.
The cost for your training, LifeScan clearance, and first guard-card might seem steep at first. But, the company-in-question often spreads out the cost over your first three paychecks. Your renewal fee (every three years) is $35...and if you remember to make that triannual payment, the card is your's for life!
That's just for your "unarmed" security officers (calling us guards isn't too bright). Those who carry a sidearm on-duty have to pass stricter clearance, including a psych exam. Training is much more rigorous, and the officer-in-question often buys their own sidearm and ammo.
They also have to range-qualify every year with that weapon to keep both their permits and their jobs. They are only allowed to draw-and-fire their weapons when faced with mortal danger (some yutz coming at them with a lethal weapon). If that rule is not followed...the job, gun, and permit are gone forever! Plus, depending on the District Attorney's ruling, they may face time in State Prison.
Now that you know the background...here's why I wrote tonight's entry. About a week ago, a NCTD Transit Officer was involved in a shooting at Vista Transit Center. The shooting has not only been excoriated in the local press, but has sparked a noisy protest outside of VTC (in the Smoking Station across the street). The protestors are calling for the NCTD cops to no longer be allowed to carry sidearms while on duty. Some of these kids (and they are teen-or-early twentysomethings) also are circulating a petition to ban any security officer in California from carrying a sidearm on-duty.
One of them asked me to sign his petition while I was riding the Sprinter from Oceanside to Vista on Wed. I told him I had no interest in his petition, and to "be gone." Now that I know what his petition was about...I was thankful I kept a civil tone, tempted though I was to show him a new-and-pain filled way to carry his petition. Would have been a waste of energy.
These kids may have been friends of the shooting victim (who died in the hospital). Their anger is justified...but their actions, sadly, are not.
The Heritage Security officer-in-question is being investigated by both the San Diego D.A.'s office and his parent company. If it comes off as a "righteous shoot"? Though he will be returned to the job, he won't be returned to his current post. If the shooting was bogus? Then all hell will be unleashed on the officer, both by his company and the State of California. His job, insurance, Guard Card with firearms endorsement, and sidearm are gone forever. His freedom...and his money and property...might end up being forfeit.
However, we need not punish all "sidearm-rated" security officers for the indescretions of one...if he is, indeed, guilty of the crimes the public wants him to be guilty of.Frankly, the lads-and-lasses protesting-and petitioning probably never pulled a shift at a post, be it unarmed-or-armed.
My suggestion to them is not to circulate a bogus petition that will never become law. Instead, why not "ask the folks who own one" (Ca. Guard Registration with or w/o firearms endorsement) about what we do for a living. Do it in a respectful way, and oh, the tales we can lay on you folks. After listening to a few of my brother-and-sister officers, you might learn that it's not like Paul Blart's mall. Not at all.
You will also learn (if you so choose) that we are not "Rent-A-Pigs" or "Wannabe Cops." Our jobs are far different...but just as potentially deadly. That is why it is hard to get a Guard Card in the first place. Wannabes and Barney Fifes need never apply--we will never take them in the first place! We take good folks...and training (both basic and ongoing) makes them better.
To qoute a former colleague of mine regarding those who excoriate those in private security: "If you've never pulled a post--don't tell us how to do our jobs!"
Put down your signs, and open your ears-and-mind! You might be surprised!