At the close of the work day on December 14, 2018, an armed security guard employed by Allied Universal Security Services, a contracted security company providing armed security services for the Arizona Department of Economic Security (AZDES), removed his firearm from its holster while inside the office at 4344 W. Indian School Road in Phoenix, and accidentally fired one round into the office floor. The guard explained the reason for the misfire was he was unloading his weapon before leaving for the day. This is the second incident involving a firearms mishap with DES contract security guards this year.
Those are the known facts as provided by AZDES employees in an internal report documenting the incident.
By itself, this type of incident is not terribly uncommon with agencies that employ, provide or require armed personnel to provide such necessary services. To be fair, anytime firearms are present, the possibility of an accidental misfire is also present. And when the firearm is handled as it was in this instance, the odds of having that misfire are increased. For this reason, law enforcement trains as extensively as it does in the area of safe firearms usage and handling, as it is constantly having its personnel handle their firearms. Yet, accidental misfires still occur.
However, in examining the AZDES incident in December, the guard stated he was, “unloading his weapon” prior to going home at the end of his day. This bears a couple of questions that were not answered in the official report. First, if this was his common routine of ending his day, why was he doing it inside the office where other persons would be? Surely, such an action was not authorized by the office manager. As a result, it is likely the guard did it on his own without prior authorization.
The second question relates to information that was not in the report. The guard was employed by Allied Universal Security Services, and likely still is. This company is contracted to provide armed security services to several State offices. Sources close to AZDES and prior employees of this same company, tell ADI this company does not authorize its guards to carry their duty sidearm fully-loaded; that they are to carry their sidearm, while on-duty, with rounds in the magazine only and not have one chambered. In the event of an incident where the guard would need their duty weapon, the guard would need to load the weapon before being able to use it to defend themselves or another person. This is contrary to law enforcement and professional security practices that generally require officers to have duty weapons ready with a round in the chamber.
If this is the case, the guard who misfired his weapon would have had no reason to remove his weapon from its holster and unload it before going home. The weapon would have been be already unloaded. And it would also follow that the guard was not unloading it, but was actually loading it before he left the office, and he was careless. Or in his case, negligent. Regardless, firearms professionals have told ADI that “safety barrels” should be present if armed staff routinely load or unload weapons at a workplace. Safety barrels are devices where a person loads or unloads a weapon, and if there is as accidental discharge of the weapon, the accidently-discharged bullet is contained in the safety barrel. From the DES report it is clear that no safety barrel was used, and sources tell ADI that DES has failed to install these safety devices at the locations of armed contract security.