Alert police officers in the Mahaneh Yehuda market Wednesday stopped a suspicious-looking man carrying an Uzi only to discover that he was a perfect example of a threat to public security.
The suspicious 32-year-old man turned out to be a security guard who was employed by a civilian contracter to secure the building of the Jerusalem security barrier.
The man did not have a license for the automatic weapon he was carrying, and police were horrified to discover that the man was a convicted criminal who is currently being treated at an outpatient clinic for drug addicts.
Furthermore, the man's employers had never arranged for him to fire his weapon at a shooting range, nor had they received the requisite permission from police to issue him a weapon.
Following questioning, the man was released on restricted terms. After questioning the directors of the security company, police discovered that the suspect was hired without even so much as a nod at basic screening procedures. According to police, the man arrived at the company, completed a short interview, filled out forms and was given the weapon and told to report to work.
Jerusalem police said that they were planning on "taking steps" against the company as well as recommending that the security guard be prosecuted, although they did not say on what charges.
Over a year ago, in August 2005, an inter-office committee charged with examining the certification and function of civilian security guards presented its findings and recommendations but, as revealed Wednesday, little has changed since the report was issued.
The report found that the security industry suffers from a general lack of standardization and supervision. The report also noted that there is currently no official body charged with checking the certification and training levels of guards - a fact that has not changed.
Security manpower companies are responsible for policing themselves, despite the fact that they have a vested interest in cost-cutting and therefore minimizing training sessions. The report also expressed concern that criminal background checks were often conducted en masse, with the companies sending long lists to police that do not receive proper scrutiny.
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