Concerns raised for security guards; autopsy done for downtown Edmonton parkade death

Click to play video: 'Security guard killed in downtown Edmonton parkade'
Security guard killed in downtown Edmonton parkade
WATCH: Police are hunting for the suspect after a security guard was fatally hurt in a parkade in downtown Edmonton. Police don’t believe the victim and suspect knew each other. Nicole Di Donato has more – Feb 20, 2024

Gabe Banack has been working in security at a Camrose casino for about two years. The 21-year-old said he feels prepared to handle the everyday occurrences at his job, but the rare violent instances, like the fatal one in Edmonton, are concerning.

“It’s definitely made us question, like: ‘Well, what can we do if there are guards with perhaps more specialized training that are being attacked and not necessarily making it home? What do we do if that same person were to come to us?’

“What we’re able to do really is just flick the panic button, call the police and just hope they get there before someone gets hurt.”

A 58-year-old security guard working in a downtown Edmonton parkade died Tuesday morning after an altercation with a man who police said was breaking into vehicles. Police said the security guard was found in “medical distress” and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The suspect ran away.

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An autopsy took place Thursday morning but police said “further testing is required to conclusively determine the cause and manner of death. The circumstances are still being treated as suspicious.” The EPS homicide section has taken over the investigation.

In a news release Thursday afternoon, EPS said a 30-year-old man had been taken into custody “in relation to breaking into vehicles.” Police said detectives are still investigating what led to the security guard’s death.

Click to play video: 'Tour of Edmonton City Hall after damage from shooting'
Tour of Edmonton City Hall after damage from shooting

Dan Jones, chair of Justice Studies at Norquest College, said the last several weeks in Edmonton have shown just how dangerous the job can be.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a security guard being killed in an event. The way they quelled the shooting at city hall was massively brave.

“There’s a higher expectation coming on to security professionals to provide safety,” Jones said in an interview Thursday with 630 CHED. “You look at transit; they have peace officers but they also hired security guards to go in those spaces.”

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And, Jones says, the risk is not worth the compensation. The average wage for a security guard in Edmonton is $18.65 an hour. Jones also said they tend to receive minimal training.

“It’s a provincially-legislated operation. You have to get a licence. You have to have a certain amount of training but the training is minimal compared to what you see from a police agency or even the peace officers’ six-to-eight week programs,” Jones said.

“These are one- to two-week programs where they learn very minimal things. A lot of things that they’re taught is report and record. They’re not supposed to intervene … but there are going to be situations where they’re going hands-on with people.”

Jones said security guards are only equipped with handcuffs — if that.

“I don’t think they have the tools necessary to do some of the things that we’re expecting of them.”

Jones says it’s time to review the security industry, how it’s regulated and how people are trained, prepared and compensated.

“We just saw someone lose their life doing their job and I think we need to take a solid look at this to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Click to play video: 'New downtown safety outreach night patrol team hits the streets of Edmonton'
New downtown safety outreach night patrol team hits the streets of Edmonton

Banack said, while rare, casino robberies in which guns are used worry him.

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“I don’t have anything that could possibly counter a firearm other than calling the police, who do have more training, more permissions, higher jurisdiction and a firearm,” Banack said.

“My personal work uniform is more or less just a dress shirt and dress pants. I don’t have anything to protect my body from harm, aside from my body.

“I don’t have a baton. I’ve just got my hands and a smile and a tag saying that I’m allowed to be a security guard.”

Banack said his training included a lot of de-escalation education and conflict resolution. He has a security guard licence but would like to get even more training in the future.

“I like to learn and I feel like you can’t be over-prepared for something, but you can definitely be under-prepared.

“Yeah, we’re security guards and yeah, we’re supposed to make sure everything’s safe, but we’re also scared,” Banack said.

“We’re also concerned for our safety as well and we do want people to keep that in mind because we do have families to go home to.”

In an email to Global News, GardaWorld Communications said it was “deeply saddened by recent events involving one of our team members in Edmonton.

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“While we cannot comment on an open police investigation, we are working closely with law enforcement in support of their efforts related to this incident. Our focus remains on supporting our people, our teams and all loved ones impacted.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta government re-affirms commitment to  50 new police officers to Edmonton'
Alberta government re-affirms commitment to 50 new police officers to Edmonton

Police Chief Dale McFee said officers are always downtown and work closely with security companies there.

McFee said EPS has a significant presence downtown and they’re seeing reductions in crime patters in the core.

At an unrelated news conference on Wednesday, the mayor said Edmonton is funding its police service “very appropriately.”

“We increased the funding last year, significantly,” Amarjeet Sohi said. “We are creating other opportunities as well for people to connect with services and programs.

“It is very tragic whenever we have violence incidents that take the lives of loved ones away from family and everything else,” Sohi said. “We are grappling with very serious increase in violence, whether it’s related to guns, whether it’s related to some of the social disorder that we’re seeing.”


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