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San Francisco Walgreens Shooting Raises Questions About Training for Armed Security Guards

There is new scrutiny on the training armed security guards at stores receive following the shooting death of Banko Brown by a security guard at a San Francisco Walgreens last month.

Security camera footage from inside the Walgreens shows how the armed guard initially responded to the alleged shoplifter. After a scuffle, the guard took his gun out of his holster — telling investigators later that Brown threatened to stab him — and eventually shot him.

“Everything that was done there would have been against policies and procedures for any law enforcement,” said Michael Leininger, a retired San Jose police sergeant and security consultant. “It was extreme.”

Leininger believes if a security guard is given a gun, they need to have more and better all-around training.

California’s Bureau of Security and Investigative Services requires a security guard go through 40 hours of training and another 14 hours of training on the use of a gun. That is not enough for Leininger.

“They just don’t have sufficient training to make life or death decisions,” he said. “I sincerely hope the California state legislature takes a good look at the events that occurred in San Francisco and decides to add additional training and perhaps a thorough background check.”

Leininger said a psychological test should also be required if a guard is going to be armed. He said police officers usually get roughly 70 hours of firearms training alone, plus another 60 hours on when to use and not use force.

“This is something that is not going to end with Banko Brown,” said Steven Clark, a former prosecutor. “You’re having issues with security guards trying to stop retail theft.”

Clark said the victim’s family might have a legitimate civil case against Walgreens.

As for a potential criminal case, he is on board with calls for the state attorney general to review it.

“That is a case that the public demands a second set of eyes,” Clark said. “But it’s the same standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Leininger said retailers are left with the debate on whether to continue hiring armed guards that some consider under-trained or look for an alternative.

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