There are over one million private security officers in America today—more than double the number of police officers. These private security officers are often the first responders to life-threatening emergency situations and they are a critical partner in keeping the public safe nationwide.
But as we mark nine years since the attacks of 9/11 we still face an urgent public safety vulnerability: Poor training and professional standards for front-line security officers.
Despite being the first to respond to national security breaches, most of America's security officers are provided with minimal training—sometimes none at all. Half of all US States put the public at risk by lacking any training requirement for security officers. By contrast, all 50 states require about 1,500 hours of training to become a licensed cosmetologist.
Poor working conditions for security officers have also created a turnover rate higher than in the fast food industry—historically as high as 300%. This poses a serious risk to public safety. The average pay for most security officers is less than $23,000 a year, and many work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Although many officers want to turn their jobs into good careers, the result of these practices is a constant "revolving door" of inexperienced security officers struggling to meet the demands of their job.
Only a few huge private security corporations dominate this multi-billion dollar industry plagued by high turnover, poor training, and lax oversight. We can’t leave America’s safety in their hands without quality standards for the hundreds of thousands of security officers in our communities.
In the interest of public safety and national security, it’s time we raise industry standards. Please take a moment to contact the CEOs of the ten largest private security companies and urge that they support higher professional standards and a fair wage for security officers—America’s first responders to life-threatening emergency situations.
Yet, in most of the security industry, a lack of adequate training combined with low pay and benefits has led to turnover that rivals rates in the fast food industry.
That’s why I am joining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in asking that you make changes that will bring more professionalism and respect to private security.
Specifically, I join SEIU in asking that your company support the following for all security officers:
-- Comprehensive training programs;
-- A guaranteed living wage and wage increases, paid sick leave and paid vacation;
-- Affordable healthcare for security officers and their families;
-- Secure retirement benefits including 401K and pension plans.
In the interest of public safety and national security, it’s time we raise standards and put stronger rules in place for security officers and the companies that train and employ them.
I urge you to champion these basic, common-sense standards at your company and set an example for the private security industry.