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Have any of you ever noticed that many of the entrances to our malls and office buildings are surroundded by large baracades. These baracades where set up to protect these structures from terrorist attacks. Now inside the malls and the office buildings are the security gaurds who are doing more that policing rowdy teenagers and running after shop lifters. These security gaurds are now the ones that are responsible for homeland security and protecting the nation. The things that is most shocking is that the national average pay for security gaurds is $19,000, which is just about how much resturant cooks and janitors make. The security gaurds have much more responsibilites and concerns than ever before but their pay does not reflect it. Many of the security gaurds are not trained and many states do not regulate the industry. The low pay reflects cutthroat competition among security firms, who submit the lowest possible bids to win contracts. Lowball contracts also mean lower profit margins and less money for training and background checks for guards Some states require FBI fingerprint checks for every guard job applicant. Others let the industry police itself. The following states don't regulate the industry: Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kentucky, Wyoming and Idaho. The city of Boise and many Idaho communities do regulate guards. Some states require background checks for company owners but not guards. It is pretty scary to know that in a terrorist attack situation that may take place at a mall or office building that the individuals that would responde to such an attack are not properly trained at all. The security businesses' own trade group, representing the largest firms, acknowledges the industry as a whole isn't ready to recognize signs of terrorism and respond to an attack. "I would have to say no," said Joseph Ricci, executive director of the National Association of Security Companies, when asked whether most guards are trained to protect the homeland. "Companies that hire private guards began spending more for security after Sept. 11, 2001, but then began cutting back. We've become complacent because we haven't had attacks." It breaks my heart when I think about all the other high risk security targets in our nation who are protected by security gauards. The list includes nuclear weapons testing grounds, drinking water resvoirs, oil and gas refineries; ports; bus and rail commuter terminals; nuclear power plants; chemical plants; food supplies; hospitals, and communications networks. My spirit is definitely troubled.

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