Business & Economy

After San Bernardino shootings, security firms respond to rise in demand for guards

File: A security guard stands in front of doors on the first day of New York Fashion Week on Sept. 5, 2013 at Lincoln Center in New York City.
File: A security guard stands in front of doors on the first day of New York Fashion Week on Sept. 5, 2013 at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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The shootings in San Bernardino prompted several businesses and institutions to increase their security service, or add service where it was lacking. Requests for armed guards and more frequent patrols jumped in the days immediately following the shooting, according to several firms contacted by KPCC.  

"It was pretty hectic at first," said Vanessa Locke, who works for Citiguard, based in Woodland Hills. "We had a lot of businesses in the San Bernardino area requesting guards."  

While other firms said the demand had leveled off by Monday, Locke said her company continues to receive requests at a higher rate than before the shooting. The requests themselves are also different. 

"They're looking for armed guards and 24-hour service," she said of the businesses, schools and churches that have contacted Citiguard. "Sometimes we get things that are maybe overnight, but since the shootings, I’ve noticed that people are requesting 24-hour patrol on their property."    

The security ramp-up is normal and expected after such an event, said Roy Rahn, the executive director of the California Association of Licensed Security Agencies, Guards & Associates (CALSAGA).

"These incidents – although luckily, they have been few and far between starting with 9/11 — have usually resulted in people adding service, and that service will normally stay in place for a while, but not necessarily permanently," Rahn told KPCC.

CALSAGA represents 165 security companies across California. Rahn said he'd heard demand was up from members in Southern California that he could not discuss, but he suspected workplaces throughout the state were revisiting their security measures.

"It’s what people feel that they need to do to protect their employees and protect themselves," he said.

One mistake some small businesses make, Rahn said, is contracting with a  firm that isn't licensed or doesn't have the necessary insurance. To any business seeking security services, he suggests asking the firm for a license number and checking it out with the state's Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.   

Vanessa Locke said that, in the past year, Citiguard has doubled the number of guards on its force to 350. She expects the force to continue growing. "We meet the demand, but we're always looking for more guards."