Canadian Security Magazine

How much has changed since Shand?

By Brian Robertson   

Features Opinion

A young black man enters a chain store and attempts to shoplift a small item. Caught in the act, he flees the store, pursued by a security officer and some store clerks. They catch up with him, physically wrestle him to the ground, and hold him there.  He tells them he can’t breathe, but they continue to hold him down.  He loses consciousness and subsequently dies of asphyxiation.

Patrick Shand, right? Could be. Or it could be Djo Bwabwa Kalamba, a
21 year-old Congolese immigrant who died in Hamilton June 26, under
circumstances that are disconcertingly similar to those under which
Patrick Shand died. The similarities were not lost on the media who
reported on Bwabwa Kalamba’s death.  A June 28 story in the
Hamilton Spectator referenced Shand’s death and reported that “A 2004
inquest into his death led to major operating changes in the security
industry.”  That evening, when Hamilton’s CHCH television news covered
the story, they reported that the Shand inquest had "led to new rules
for security guards."

Is this true? Has the Shand inquest “led to major changes” in terms of
how the security industry in Ontario is regulated? Well, yes and no. Proprietary security in Ontario are now licensed, and it’s harder to
get a licence if you have a criminal record than it used to be, and
there is a more robust public complaints process in place than there
was before. But the security officer whose handcuffs held Patrick
Shand’s arms behind his back was not unlicensed. Nor was he a former
criminal who somehow got past Wackenhut’s background checks. Patrick
Shand died because the security guard who supervised his arrest was
badly trained.

If there had been mandatory use of force training in Ontario prior to
Patrick Shand’s death, he might still be alive today. But as of now,
nine years after his death (Shand died on Sept. 14, 1999),
mandatory use of force skills training for security officers in Ontario
is still at least two or three years away. This spring we learned that use
of force theory training will not now become mandatory in Ontario until
the fall of 2009, and that mandatory use of force skills training ”“
including training on the use of handcuffs — will not become mandatory
until sometime after that (2010? 2011?)

At a Canadian Security Magazine industry round table discussion on Ontario’s new legislation
held in May, Jim Watts (President and CEO of the Commissionaires Great
) expressed the frustrations of many when he said, “Here we are
(many) years later and ”¦ can I say the citizens of Ontario are safer
than before the legislation was passed?  Absolutely not. This has
accomplished nothing. The fact it has taken so long to even think
about how we’re going to do this training and testing is an
embarrassment ”“ we’re the laughing stock of the world.” (See
“Regulation Overload” in our June/July 2008 issue.)


In Ontario, where 70,000 licensed security professionals go to work
every week, we still don’t have mandatory use of force skills training
in place for those who forcibly restrain people as part of their jobs.
In Hamilton, one man is dead, and the lives of dozens of others — those
who either knew him or who were involved in his death — have all been
changed for the worse.  And a 50-year old security guard who thought
that June 26 was going to be like any other day at the Canadian Tire
Store where he worked now wonders if he should have or could have done
things any differently that day.

There is no way of knowing whether or not Djo Bwabwa Kalamba would be
alive today if a provincial requirement for use of force skills
training for retail security personnel in Ontario were already in
place.  But if you ask the Province why it is necessary to impose a
mandatory training requirement on the industry at all, the Province
will readily tell you that it is necessary because it will help to
ensure that what happened to Patrick Shand doesn’t happen again.

Too late.

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