Canadian Security Magazine

Toronto Star exposé puts security in a bad light

Jennifer Brown   

Features Opinion

On the Sunday morning I flew to Anaheim for the ASIS International conference I knew what the discussion would be about at the departure gate even before I got to the airport. A story about how a Toronto daily newspaper reporter was able to get a security licence with $80 and no experience had caused quite a stir. Scandalous! To the general public that is”¦ To the industry it was just another example of the public getting a negative impression of the profession.

In addition to “Who Watches the Watchmen?” which was published in the Toronto Star,
the newspaper also run a story, “Learn to be a guard in one day”— how
the same reporter had attended a career college that was exploiting
students by telling them that by taking their eight-hour training
course they could get jobs at placements with companies such as Garda
at locations like Pearson Airport.

Sure enough, as I got to the gate, those two stories were the topic of
conversation. It just so happens a few senior individuals had also just
recently written the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional
Services pilot test for security guards and PIs — they weren’t too
impressed with what they had encountered.

Essentially, what everyone felt was that articles suggested guards on
the street have little to no training and that the industry is putting
these people in front of the public. The reality is that many reputable
companies who do train their guards were not consulted for the article.

Garda says its legal department has notified the training school that
used its name to falsely promise its students jobs at Toronto Airport
to “cease and desist” those practices. “I want people to know that
Garda in no way uses the services of this company, either contractually
or under any other type of arrangement,” said Paul Carson
vice-president, Ontario, Manitoba and the Atlantic Provinces for Garda.


Garda’s physical security operations provide a mandatory four-day
training component that is CGSB certified. The requirements for Garda’s
airport personnel are even more rigorous.

The training of private security guards is an issue of on-going concern
in the industry especially in Ontario as time continues to drag on —
five years and two governments later at the Ministry of Community
Safety and Correctional Services since the death 10 years ago of
Patrick Shand who died after he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground
outside a Loblaws store in Scarborough by two staff members and a
private security guard.
The province had been seeking proposals from companies interested in
delivering testing to guards and PIs, but the RFP has been cancelled
and a new one is to be issued.  That means standardized testing will
likely be pushed to the middle of 2010.

Has the Ministry failed in its responsibility to the private security
industry and the public? To date the province has reportedly collected
$5 million in licensing fees but the public still doesn’t have an
impression that the regulation of the industry is in any way improved.
The industry deserves better and it deserves some answers on when this
decade-long journey will see some real progress.

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