Supes postpone vote on armed Muni yard guards

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors postponed a vote Tuesday to approve a $38 million contract for private security guards for San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency transit facilities because the contracts include $7 million for guards armed with handguns who are required to receive only 16 hours of training.

A number of the supervisors, including David Campos, Malia Cohen and Jane Kim, said that armed guards with limited training in heavily trafficked public transit areas may present a public safety hazard and doesn’t align with The City’s values.

Kim said her own mother was a shopkeeper who was held at gunpoint three times during her life. Kim said she’s skeptical that had her mother been given a gun and received 16 hours of firearm training, that she would have been any better off.

Many supervisors said they would like to see evidence to support the claim that the SFMTA must continue to have armed security guards at transit yards and maintenance facilities. If there is no evidence, many supervisors said they would not approve the new six-year contract with Cypress Security.

Campos said that if there is no evidence that armed guards improve public safety, The City should consider competitive bids from security companies without armed guards.

The current contract expires at the end of April and a competitive bidding process as well as approval by the SFMTA board of directors and the Board of Supervisors would not likely be completed by the end of the month. A number of supervisors expressed their desire to see the existing contract extended prior to any security guards potentially being laid off.