More than 80 percent of California’s buildings, power facilities, and other vital structures are in private hands, watched over most closely by security guards on the lookout mainly for burglars, vandals, and shoplifters. Many are also being trained to watch out for terrorists, says the Associated Press. “It’s a simple concept, but it’s like a 10 times increase in the number of eyes and ears out there,” said Gary Winuk, chief deputy director of the governor’s Office of Homeland Security. The state has begun requiring licensed security guards’ training to include a section on what to look for and whom to alert if they see a mysterious package, someone dressed inappropriately for the season, a person taking pictures of a facility, or any other suspicious activity. “It’s all about seeing something that doesn’t look right,” Winuk said.
Four hours of the guards’ 40 hours of training must be in counterterrorism, and those four hours are among the first training the guards receive. The training includes sections on potential terrorist weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and how to respond in the event of a terrorist attack. “There’s no state that does anything like this,” said Steve Reed, security manager at Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, who helped develop the lesson materials. There are about 200,000 licensed guards in California who mainly work through contract security agencies, and another 200,000 who are employees of a business and guard only that facility.