Misclassification Leads To Uncounted Security Injuries-Deaths privateofficer.com #PrivateOfficerNews
CHARLOTTE NC April 28 2016
Since 2004, we have worked with numerous state and federal agencies to accurately record correct statistical data on security personnel injuries and deaths and workplace violence.
Prior to our association coming on scene, there was never any one agency or private entity that recorded this data and authorities were only recording the numbers reported to them by employers which was often times inaccurate and misleading.
In the past twelve years, we have continued to struggle at times with identifying employees who are performing security related duties because employers sometimes intentionally misclassify their employees to avoid regulatory licensing, training and insurance requirements.
This unfortunately paints a tainted and untrue picture of what is happening in our industry and it takes away from the recognition and focus garnered by others who serve and protect.
It has also caused potential funding from state and federal agencies not to be approved and made the jobs of state legislators harder when determining the needs of the private security industry.
In the past six years I have been interviewed by forty three media outlets on the dangers, injuries and deaths occurring in the security industry and have had reporters repeatedly acknowledge that they were not aware of the increase and seldom have heard of or read about the violence against private security or the increased dangers that security workers face.
In 2012, 2014 and again in 2015, I met with U.S. Senators and Representatives and held conference calls with the U.S. Department of Justice who oversees the Public Safety Benefits program which administers a cache of benefits for families of first responders killed in the line of duty.
First reponders including law enforcement and correction officers, firefighters, paramedics, forestry personnel, game wardens and numerous others are all included under the “first responder” umbrella.
I presented documentation, statistics and argued why private police officers who have full law enforcement authority should be included under this same program.
Officers such as Stephen Tyrone Johns, a six year veteran of the Washington’s Holocaust museum’s private security police force who was gunned down by an angry man with a rifle on June 9 2009 and Mike Ridgell who was shot to death at the Washington DC Navy Yard on September 16th 2013.
Both men were sworn law enforcement working for a private security agency and both men died protecting others and their families would have received financial and educational assistance under the benefit program had they been employed by a public entity.
Another private police officer who gained national recognition during the Boston Marathon bombing was Massachusetts Institute of Technology Officer Sean A. Collier who was gunned down by one of the bombing suspects.
Because he always was working for a private business, his family did not qualify for the First Responder Benefits Program either.
Currently, thirty states have some form of private law enforcement and others are considering creating statutes that would allow and define the duties and authority of private police in their states.
Security personnel, whether sworn or non-sworn, protect most of America’s businesses, schools, government buildings, military bases, hospitals and nuclear facilities and are the first responders protecting, deterring, responding and aiding in every area of safety, security and enforcement.
We need to stop calling persons who are primarily serving in a security role such titles as security engineers, escorts, courtesy officers, event staff, guides, residential services aides, safety officers, safety assistants, ambassadors and other non-descript generic titles just so that we can beat the system.
All of these positions are serving and acting in a security officer role and performing security officer duties and we need to clearly identify them as such.
While the official number of persons working in the security industry in the US is around 1.5-2 million people, I’m sure that the true numbers are double those due to the misclassification of job titles and the fact that some states are still unregulated and do not have an accurate count and some states do not regulate and thus do not count proprietary security staff either.
Private security personnel regard less of titles are shouldering a bigger piece of the responsibility for being proactive and protecting our country and millions of lives as well as billions of dollars of assets every single day.
Let’s give credit where credit is due and correctly train, equip, prepare and identify those on the front line.