Boston Looks to Create New Regulations for Armed Security Guards

The chairman of the Legislature's Public Safety Committee plans to file a bill to create stricter standards and more oversight for the 237 armed security guards patrolling the city.

Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios (D-Cambridge) will introduce legislation that would prevent the guards, who are licensed to carry weapons by the Boston Police Department as ``special police officers,'' from writing reports or pursuing suspects beyonds the confines of the property they are paid to patrol.

Under Barrios' bill, companies employing special police would also be required to obtain a license from the Executive Office of Public Safety and be required to fire any convicted of a violent crime.

Massachusetts law governing special police officers in the city of Boston, Chapter 282 of the Acts of 1898, has not been updated in 107 years, Barrios said yesterday. The BPD has 237 special police officers licensed to carry weapons.

``The public depends on a trained professional police force. These rent-a-cops have the power to arrest citizens, to use a gun, to exert authority over others, but are not trained as police officers,'' Barrios said. ``It's a serious concern, one which merits tighter controls.''

Lisa Thurau-Gray, an attorney with the Juvenile Justice Center at Suffolk University who has studied the issue, said no agency is doing enough to monitor security guards. ``This bill would be a step in the right direction,'' she said.

The Herald has reported on troubling incidents of violence involving armed guards.

Three guards with Alliance Detective & Security Service Inc. of Everett are facing felony assault charges after they allegedly beat a Dorchester man at gunpoint.

Another Alliance employee, Michael Guida, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing this year in the shooting death of Israel Robles-Vasquez of the South End. The dead man's family plans to sue.