Undertrained, Underpaid, and Underprepared: How LA’s Commercial Office Building Owners are Failing Security Officers and Compromising Public Safety


Since the tragic events of 9/11, and the more recent devastation of Hurricane Katrina, terrorism and emergency preparedness have been major issues for American cities. In Los Angeles, the U.S. Bank Tower downtown remains a top terrorist target, and the ever-present threat of a major earthquake underlines the need for an effective and well-prepared emergency response network.

In Los Angeles’ commercial office buildings, hundreds of thousands of people work and visit every day. More than 10,000 private security officers in these buildings are on the front lines in an emergency, frequently making important decisions before police, fire, or any other emergency personnel arrive. Their responsibilities are varied and often critical—including securing entrances, leading tenants to safety during high-rise evacuations, monitoring activity inside and outside of the building, and coordinating with the city’s emergency personnel. Yet despite these essential duties, private security officers are undertrained, underpaid and unprepared—putting the safety and security of tenants and the general public at unnecessary risk.