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En Garde

January 02, 1994

"Guns for Hire" (by Miles Corwin, Nov. 28) was right on the mark. As both an Orange County deputy district attorney who has prosecuted armed private security guards for the negligent discharge of a firearm and a reserve Los Angeles Police Department officer, I can attest that private security guards are generally undertrained. After handling several of these cases, I believe that the Department of Consumer Affairs needs to re-evaluate its licensing guidelines. As society becomes less tolerant of crime, its tolerance for less-skilled "officers," even those who violate the law, will inevitably increase.

TODD ALLAN SPITZER

Los Angeles

*

I have worked as a security officer for most of the last five years while going to school and working on my own business. It is a great job to have if you need a place to sit and study while earning money, and it is true that it will continue to be one of the fastest-growing fields.

But most of the jobs are taken by lower-income workers who will be making just above minimum wage. Add to that the lack of benefits, the increase in crime and the minimal training most officers receive and you can see why the use of security officers for a job the police should be doing is, at best, a Band-Aid approach.

MICHAEL ZACCHERIO

Burbank

*

A bill that I have proposed in Congress will cure a central anomaly currently found in the private security industry by requiring states to establish minimum training requirements for both armed and unarmed guards, including classroom and on-the-job training and qualification on a supervised weapons range. In many states there are no requirements for training of security officers, and in 14 states an employer can put an armed guard to work with absolutely no training.

The private security industry is one where price cutting and low wages are the norm. Unscrupulous operators forgo reasonable training and continue to pay the lowest wages so that they can increase profit margins at the expense of public safety. I believe that my bill will do a great deal to rid this industry of shady operators and enhance the professionalism of private security officers.

REP. MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ

Washington, D.C.

*

Another story about crime and its unfortunate consequences. When are we going to get mad as hell and not take it anymore?

Do we need more security guards, police, jails? Definitely not. How about a little more responsibility and a lot less passing the blame? I feel for honest, hard-working security guards such as Evan Elko, who was shot on the job. We need to get serious about the death penalty immediately. If we do not, there will be a lot more Evan Elkos.

MARSHALL LAPLANTE

Saugus

*

It seems that our whole society is now living in fear, and people would do just about anything to survive. But the gang members are also out there to survive. Security guards are not the answer. By hiring them, we are showing that we are afraid, and this is exactly what the gang members want. To them, it's a power trip.

SHYLA SALDIVAR

Pomona

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