Municipal Transportation Agency, or Muni, in San Francisco comes equipped with Muni workers as well as armed security guards. San Francisco supervisor Jane Kim argues that the days the transport system requires security guards to carry guns have come to an end, proposing that the weapons be eliminated from the system completely.
The move comes in light of a proposed revision to the agency’s 6 year, $38.3 million dollar contract with the guard agency, Cypress Security. Removing the handguns would save the city about $1 million over the life of the contract. The majority of security guards of Muni do not carry weapons, however this enforcement would remove handguns from security entirely.
The purpose of the guns in the Muni transit system is to protect ticket fare collectors when transporting money from their stations to deposit funds. Some of these transitions happen late at night and pose a danger for the employees responsible for the cash. “It would be better to give the cash to an armed robber so we don’t have a shooting,” Kim said of the protection over cash handling. “I can’t support having more guns on the street than we have to.” In comparison, the BART employs its own armed police force to provide security for situations such as this.
She went on to say, “Small businesses handle cash every day without security guards, so why does the MTA need them? I’m troubled that we have armed guards at the MTA.”
Others, however, disagree with Kim’s sentiment. “None of us like guns,” said supervisor Scott Wiener. “I would love to have a gun-free community with no violence and no one victimizing people.” He argues that this, however, is not a reality. “We have workers who are retrieving cash from fare machines and transporting cash. That’s where the money is, and criminals know that’s where the money is.” He continued to claim that eliminating handguns from the situation would “turn the workers into sitting ducks.”
Fare collector Anthony Hale agreed with Wiener in expressing concern over the change in policy. “When we do collections late at night, we often can’t park our city vehicles real close…we have to walk a block or two with money and passes,” he said. “Doing that without an armed guard would be very nerve-racking.”
As a proposed solution, Kim contends that the guards do not entirely need to be weapon-free, just without lethal firearms. On the table for discussion includes electric stun guns, which even the San Francisco police are disallowed from carrying.
While the discussion continues in San Francisco, what do you think about having armed guards for transportation agencies, or even in general? Let us know in the comments below.