Pittsburgh City Council Calls for Commission to Address Lack of Good Jobs and Inadequate Training in the City’s Security Industry

 

Members of the City Council in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are calling for a new commission to address the need to improve the jobs of hundreds of officers who protect downtown buildings. The decision came after a public hearing held last week at which local security officers spoke about problems plaguing the security industry. The proposed commission would include members of city and county councils, firefighters and community leaders.

“The professionals who protect thousands of downtown employees and visitors and millions in property should have quality training that allows them to do their jobs safely and thoroughly,” said Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene M. Harris. “I’m troubled that there are not training standards for these hard working men and women, and I am also troubled that they are not paid a fair wage.”

Like security officers elsewhere, security officers in Pittsburgh face low wages and a lack of affordable healthcare, which forces some officers to rely on public assistance. And with low pay and bad conditions, few security officers stay on the job for long and turnover rates can be as high–often resulting in inexperienced officers struggling to do their jobs as well they can.

Another major problem is that there are no requirements for the training of private security officers in Pittsburgh. “If we had standardized training, we would be more effective first responders and able to make more right calls that could stop a robbery or even save a life,” said Brian Morgan, a downtown security officer.

Fellow emergency responders, such as city firefighters, say they would benefit from having better trained security officers protecting city buildings. “The difference between a well trained officer and one with little or no training could be life or death,” said Darrin Kelly, Firefighters Local 1 Executive Board Member. “When we report to an emergency, we depend on security officers’ knowledge and experience.”

In some cities, private security officers are given the chance to participate in a standardized training program through their union. In New York, SEIU Local 32BJ has worked with the city, law enforcement and the real estate industry to provide a state-of-the-art training program to private security officers to develop the skills they need to keep our city safe and secure. As part of the program, private security officers complete a 40-hour training that covers emergency preparedness, identifying suspicious packages, security technology, and support for police, fire and emergency operations departments.

Meanwhile, security officers and community leaders hope the recent hearing will call attention to the need for good jobs and effective security in Pittsburgh. City Council President Darlene Harris said the commission would be established to study officers’ wages and working conditions, with a focus on establishing standardized training requirements. While no legislation has been introduced yet, Allegheny County Council President Rich Fitzgerald says he will work on legislation at the county level and hopes to work closely with the city council on the issue.

You can read more on the Pittsburgh Council hearing in the following articles:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Council studying wages, working conditions of Downtown guards

WDUQ 90.5FM News
Security Guard Pay and Training Aired


Related Story: Pittsburgh Security Officers Seek Higher Training Standards

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