Oregon DPSST to approve private security licences amid calls for accountability

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training has determined some 1,000 private security companies in Oregon will be required to obtain new licences by Jan. 1, based on legislation passed in 2021. Private security employers and contractors also will be required to pay fees of up to nearly $46,000 to comply with the law.

The Private Security and Investigator Policy Committee approved and amended previous revisions to rules adopted to enact House Bill 2527, which lawmakers passed in 2021 to regulate the private security industry.

“There wasn’t really any standardization, and because of that, we saw reports of excessive use of force, discrimination, sexual assault and harassment, and wage theft,” said Alan Dubinsky, spokesperson for SIEU 49 chapter, a union that represents private security employees.

Before the 2021 law, private security companies were not required to obtain a DPSST licence. Previously, agency standards for private security professionals included attending basic unarmed and firearms courses and taking gun safety and marksmanship exams. DPSST also required private security employees to “be of good moral fitness” as determined by a criminal background check, department investigation or other reliable sources.

The companies were not required to provide any training to prevent discrimination, SIEU 49 political organiser Yasmin Ibarra said in a 2021 letter to the Oregon House Judiciary Committee.

Ibarra noted a 2018 case in which a security officer at the Portland DoubleTree “claimed a Black man was ‘loitering’ in the hotel lobby and had him removed.” The man was a hotel guest calling his mother on his phone, Ibarra said.

The year before, Homefront Security private security guard Gregory Capwell shot and killed a man in the parking lot of Best Western Plus Mill Creek in Salem. Capwell was sentenced in 2018 to life in prison. He had certifications dating back to 2010 and had previously been charged in 2011 with fourth-degree assault, reckless driving, and reckless endangerment, the Statesman Journal reported.

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