SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim is on a mission to revise the Municipal Transit Agency’s contract with Cypress Security, eliminating the armed guards that the public transit agency has employed for decades.
The vote on a proposed contract between the MTA and Cypress Security, worth $38.3 million over six years, has been put-off while supervisors research how armed security guards are valuable to public transit agencies.
“Small businesses handle cash every day without security guards, so why does the MTA need them,” said Kim during a Board of Supervisors meeting. “I’m troubled that we have armed guards at the MTA.”
Apart from the potential safety benefits of eliminating firearms from city streets, Kim has pointed out that the proposed change would save the city an estimated $1 million over the course of the six-year contract, funds that could be spent on other public needs.
“It would be better to give the cash to an armed robber so we don’t have a shooting,” said Kim. “I can’t support having more guns on the street than we have to.”
Opposition of the change has come from within the ranks of the MTA, who argue that unarmed guards would not be able to offer sufficient protection in emergency situations.
Though Muni does have a substantial force of unarmed guards, tasked with reporting and controlling petty crime around bus yards and platforms, an estimated 18 percent of the security force is armed with handguns, guards who are used to protect Muni employees carrying cash from their vehicles to cable-car kiosks.
“SFMTA needs armed guards to protect the public, employees, revenue and infrastructure against any possible use of force,” said MTA spokesman Paul Rose.
In disarming the guards, Kim has support from fellow Supervisors David Campos and John Avalos. Though the issue was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, a final decision on a contract amendment cannot be made final until approved by the transit agency’s own board. Once approved, the new contract may be presented to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.