Guards ‘Guilty until proven innocent’ – Proof industry needs a media body


By Gerard May.

More than ever the security industry needs a single body that can represent itself to the media.

This is evident by two recent moments involving tragedies and security guards highlighting the two types of public attention afforded security officers and the industry. The first demonstrates the absence of attention.

July the 16th marked the ten year anniversary of murdered security guard Steve Rodgers. Rodgers a 44 year old father of seven was gun-down by Peter Knight while defending a Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne.

Knight, an anti-abortionist, stormed the clinic’s waiting room before being challenged by Rodgers, a melee ensured and Rodgers received a single gunshot wound to the chest ending in his death. Two men near by then restrained Knight.

The subsequent court case detailed frightening evidence. Knight entered the clinic of 41 people with two bags. One included 16 litres of kerosene, ammunition, cigarette lighters, ropes, gags and torches to be soaked in kerosene. The second bag hid the modified high powered Winchester rifle.

On sentencing Knight to life imprisonment Justice Bernard Teague spoke of how Rodgers averted a modern day catastrophe. Stating to Knight, “you were a loner on a personal crusade (to) massacre many,” however “Steve Rogers got in the way of your crusade .” A hero indeed.

The second tragedy demonstrates the other type of attention afforded the security industry. That is a wave of negative hysteria.

On July 3rd 40 year old Anthony Dunning tragically died after becoming unconscious while being restrained by security personal at Crown Casino.

This tragedy received plenty of media coverage. So it should. However, questions arise over the type of media attention afforded security officers following a death.

A tabloid paper printed an ex-Crown security officer stating guards acted like “Gestapo hit squads” and “prison gangs” . Talk back radio was fuelled with personal stories of intimidation including one member of the public who pointed out the “steely glaze which Crown security get”.

The trial by media following this incident is reminiscent of what occurred immediately after the tragic death of David Hookes. The ABC’s Media Watch program found directly after Hooke’s death 100 references to Hookes being “bashed” and 85 to him being “attacked” in Victorian media . The word “alleged” disappeared. The security guard was ultimately found not guilty of murdering Hookes.

The death of Anthony Dunning is a sad shame. So is it that despite the deeds of men and women like Steve Rodgers it appears there is no industry where its’ members are as ‘guilty until proven innocent’ like that of the security industry.

Through both the death of Anthony Dunning and the anniversary of the death of Steve Rodgers the security industry can be characterised by its silence. This has been to the detriment of the public perception of security officers and the industry.

Never has there been more reason why the security industry needs a single representative body to provide media outlets both rational feedback during challenging times and to highlight the sacrifices made by its members for the betterment of society…To read more subscribe to the magazine today!