NEWS

Surveillance Camera Catches Violent Beating as Three Security Guards Watch

By Matthew Harwood

The vicious beating of one teenage girl by another inside a downtown Seattle transit tunnel as three private security guards watched has led the city's metro department to rethink its security policies.

 

On January 28, a 15-year-old girl attacked and stomped on another 15-year-old girl inside the transit tunnel after altercations at nearby retailers Macy's and Nordstrom. The entire attack lasted about a minute and was caught by a surveillance camera. The video shows the assailant bum rush the victim into the street, tackle her on the platform, repeatedly punch her, and then stomp on her. The victim's purse, book bag, cell phone, and iPod were then stolen from her. Four people, three adults and one juvenile, have since been charged in the assault and robbery of the 15-year-old female victim.

Three security guards watched the entire attack from an arms-length away without intervening. They did, however, radio for assistance. (Warning: the video is violent.)

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that the security guards' contract with Kings County Metro explicitly stated that they "should 'observe and report' assaults and suspicious activity to police, but not try to physically intervene." The guards were employed by Olympic Security Services, a private firm based in nearby Tukwila, Wash.

Regardless, the guards' hands-off approach has generated anger from city and county officials. Kings County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond told the paper that the guards' inaction was inappropriate, despite what the contract stated.

"It's extremely troubling and absolutely unacceptable. I don't think anyone here believe their response was appropriate and that's why we have to change the way this language works," Desmond said. "We're going to rethink this, change procedures and get Olympic to train their personnel."

The transit tunnel has been protected by private security since 2007. Previously, King County paid off-duty Seattle police officers to patrol the transit tunnel. The beating has since returned security to police officers. Two weeks after the incident, the King County Sheriff's Office has posted armed deputies at each stop within Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, reports the The Seattle Times. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn also weighed in on the matter, releasing a statement that says the city will explore using uniformed Seattle police officers to patrol the tunnel until a better solution can be formulated.

Seattle police Sgt. Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, told SeattlePI that the switch from police officers to private security should never have occurred. "It's appalling to watch that video. People aren't safe. They were safer with the police and the people who made this decision should be held accountable," he said.

In a statement to a local television station, Olympic Security Services said it welcomed a policy change with King County Metro and defended its security guards.

"In the past, our guards have been very effective in deterring fights when only two people were involved, by verbal intercession or acting as a physical buffer," the statement read. "When a situation has escalated like the one depicted in the videotape, these passive approaches are not effective."

Olympic's contract with Kings County expires in October, and Desmond told SeattlePI that policy changes will affect the bid price.


♦ Photo by Brett Hammond/Flickr

Comments

I fail to see why the

I fail to see why the security guards should take the blame for not acting - what about the groups of people around her? They could have prevented the attack from going any further. And the boy in the green vest rushing to take the victim's bag as she as being hit, that says a lot about the society that clearly has no morals. Shame on everyone.

 

Regards,

Henry

CCTV Camera

In the past, our guards have

In the past, our guards have been very effective in deterring fights when only two people were involved, by verbal intercession or acting as a physical buffer," the statement read. "When a situation has escalated like the one depicted in the videotape, these passive approaches are not effective.

can't have it both ways

Black Diamond Security Solutions

they were doing as post orders. if they werent on the clock they wouldn't have even been there.Its the company's fault for not training them the right thing to do.

Adding two cents...

Looking at this video makes me wonder what will these officers do if they would witness their own family members getting a beating. Will they act knowing they have a "no hands policy" in effect? They probably would, if they cared for them, or not, fearing the loss of their job. But on the other hand, you have the management, which clearly failed to address the issue of defending a human life. There is something called Reasonable Deadly Force, which clearly states that you can use force if its necessary to defend your, or the life of others if they are in danger. Not for propery but for a human life. Properly trained officers know the difference, which in this case the ones on the video clearly and plainly just did not care, between a fight and a severe beating which by judging the video was the intention of the perpetrator to hand out, or even worse by the way she was kicking the victim in the head, which can cause severe brain damage or even worse. If those officers would have interving despite of the "hands off policy" they would have been recognozed and the company would have been recognzed for saving a life. "Hands Off Policy" means do not grab a person at all for the purposes of searching or detaining. It does not mean that you can't push a person away for the purposes of saving a life.

You get what you pay for...

Coming from many years of working in various facets of private security, this story disturbs me greatly but maybe not for the reasons one would expect. As a respectable human being with even the slightest amount of compassion, someone should have done something. Not just the security officers, but one of the adults standing around as well. Should someone have done something? Absolutely! Do I necessarily blame them for standing idly by? Absolutely not and here's why: The contract specifically states that the officers were only to observe and report and not to physically intervene in any way. They observed, they reported, and they did not physically intervene. They did exactly what they were paid to do. The fact that out of three officers, none of them felt that their moral obligations outweighed the need to stick to the contract leads to me make one rather large assumption: that there has been a culture within this company of officers being reprimanded for going "above and beyond" what the contract requires of them. In an economy where none of us can afford to lose our jobs, I feel as though the fear of reprimand or unemployment made the determination of what these officers did (or did not) do in this case. If that culture did not exist within this company, I must imagine that one of these three officers would have tried to do something. But the inaction of the officers is not what disturbs me. What disturbs me is that Kings County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond would publically admonish the behavior of the officers that acted within the guidelines of the contract HE orchestrated. Calling their behavior "inappropriate" or "unacceptable" is, frankly, unacceptable. Desmond determined the guidelines. Desmond was instrumental in removing sworn and armed peace officers from security functions within his area of responsibility. And now this same person is admonishing the officers that followed his rules. "Inappropriate despite what the contract stated..." Really? And if one of them had intervened physically and had detained one of the female aggressors (who appeared to be a juvenile) to prevent them from inflicting further injury, I'd be willing to bet a month's pay that the same officer would be terminated on the spot as soon as the video came to light- simply for violating that contract's "hands-off" policy. If you want to enable a security officer to physically intervene to prevent someone from being seriously injured, you must allow for such provisions in the contract so that the security provider can ensure that the officers allocated to that client are properly trained. And you can't pick and choose which situations you'd like for an officer to become involved in. It's ridiculous to try and tell an officer, "Oh, you can step in as long as the aggressive party consists of 4 or more people, but if it's less than 4, you must only observe and report." Yes, an officer trained and certified to utilize physical tactics if the need arises will certainly cost more as far as the contract bid is concerned, but I guarantee it will cost less that hiring law enforcement. And isn't that the real travesty here? In today's environment, in a major metropolitan public transit system, the government bureaucrats felt the need to cut expenditures at the cost of public welfare. They went from fully sworn and armed peace officers to unarmed private security guards who were contractually unable to physically intervene in a violent situation. And now the security guards are the ones being blamed for the situation... just think about it for a minute. Would I have risked my job to prevent this situation from happening? Absolutely, but that's just me and I don't blame the officers for their behavior. I also am pleased with the support the officers are receiving from their employer. The real creeps here are the young violent offenders recorded on video and Mr. Desmond himself.

This is a sad indicator !

The headline is unpleasant. "while the security guards watch". I believe there is a current legislation that security does not include putting yourself at risk. This is a sad indicator of how common this types of situation occurs. No longer should any one fighting criminal activity lose or risk their lives.

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