Gallery of 8 photos
Safety on the streets of downtown San Francisco is the subject of national news and local debate. Rampant retail theft, dirty sidewalks and drug dealers and their customers operating imperviously are among the woes afflicting the Tenderloin district and several nearby neighborhoods.
But for some there’s a silver lining to the crisis: jobs.
Security professionals told The Standard demand for protective services is up, fueled by a perceived increase in smash-and-grab robberies and other crimes unfolding in the public eye.
“We’re getting a lot of cold calls, new clients, new referrals,” said Herman Jones, a manager at Jones Protective Services, a local security outfit that employs around 30 people.
Yet hiring security guards is proving difficult in a “competitive” labor market, according to Delphine Skreen, director of compliance for Marina Security Services.
Skreen said that the firm raised its hourly pay from $18 to $19.50 during the pandemic in an effort to attract and retain talent. Now, with the labor shortage, “we work with what we can get,” said Skreen.
So who are San Francisco's security guards? We scoured downtown and found an eclectic group. Some are young, some are women, some carry guns, some have dreams of other careers and some believe fervently in protecting the community.
Most commute from outside San Francisco—some from as far as San Jose—and have an array of professional experience ranging from one week to 30 years.
Click into our photo gallery to see the faces—and read the stories—of San Francisco’s guards.