Would Security Guards Have Mattered?

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The Chron splashed a story across the front page today, revealing that the City of Oakland had failed to follow through on a plan to deploy private security guards in East Oakland. It's a good, solid story, but it didn't deserve the treatment the paper gave it. By blasting it across Page One, as part of the paper's coverage of the police slayings, the editors led readers to believe that the guards might have affected last weekend's tragic incident. But that's a pretty unlikely scenario. In fact, no one in the story even made that claim.

The story reveals a rift between some members of the city council and Mayor Ron Dellums. The council approved $200,000 for the guards and say that merchants want them patrolling city streets. But the mayor chose not to implement the program in the wake of the BART cop shooting. He was worried that some poorly trained armed security guard might end up shooting a civilian, too. Good scoop, good controversy - but it has nothing to do with the fatal shootings of four police officers.

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