"Officers Involved In Von Brunn Shooting Were Union Members Who Had Pressed For Security Vests"
This morning on NBC’s Today Show, Sara Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, commended the security police professionals who were able to so quickly take down shooter James von Brunn and save the lives of other visitors and staff members at the institution:
BLOOMFIELD: Well, we obviously take security very very seriously. It’s our highest priority — the safety of our visitors and our staff. … But everything happened yesterday as we train for these things. And as I think you’ve reported, two of our officers did attack this assailant and none of our visitors were hurt, so we feel that this actually worked extremely well, in terms of how many lives were saved in this incident. And again, we want to commend our officers who responded so well and pay tribute to Officer Johns, who also behaved so heroically in this incident.
The security police professionals working at the Holocaust Museum are all members of the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA). Yesterday, president David Hickey said that it was a tragic day for his members, who are “the first line of defense against a terrorist attack and put their lives on the line each day protecting our country.”
ThinkProgress spoke to SPFPA Organizing Director Steve Maritas, who said that the officers working at the museum worked for Wackenhut Services, Inc. He stressed that because of the intense security environment in Washington, DC, these men and women go through extensive training:
These guys are security police professionals, which is a whole different level of training compared to security guards. … We represent approximately 5,000 officers around the area, including the Pentagon and the Ronald Reagan Building. It’s a tragedy, what happened. [...]
Because of the high-profile buildings that they represent, they would continuously provide training to these officers. … When they train these guys, they’re trained on more of a terrorism level.
However, according to SPFPA Washington DC representative Assane Faye, the union had been pressing Wackenhut for “company-issued protective vests,” as a result of a rise in anti-Semitic remarks directed at the museum’s officers. “I hammered this in our negotiations two years ago because of how sensitive that museum is,” Faye told the Washington Post. Wackenhut has not yet issued the vests.
SPFPA has been a strong supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would “enable working people to bargain for better benefits, wages and working conditions.” Maritas told ThinkProgress that conservative cries over the disappearance of the secret ballot are misplaced, because right now, there is no such thing as a “secret ballot.” He said that as any “good union-buster will tell you,” they already know how employees will vote on unionization because they “do one-on-one sessions with these guys” and spread misinformation.