Center on Halsted has finally selected a new security provider, according to a statement released by Center officials the afternoon of Jan. 22.
The security firmQuantum Security, LLC, whose other clients include Howard Brown Health Center, Broadway Youth Center, Triple S, La Casa Norte Pierce House and the Firehouse Community Arts Centercomes after a selection process that began last September.
"Quantum Security was selected as the security provider that most closely meets the Center's comprehensive selection criteria," said the Jan. 22 statement. "In addition to having a MBE certification, Quantum Security incorporates extensive training for their security officers who are considered [to be] 'Peace Ambassadors.'"
The Center's previous security provider, Walsh Security, had long been the focus of controversy. Founder Thomas Walsh faced allegations of racism, while many Center visitorsparticularly persons of color and trans personshad complained of being overly policed by security personnel there.
Criteria in the Center's Request for Proposals included staff retention; ability to meet the needs of an LGBTQ community center; CPR/First Aid certification; active shooter training; security guard cultural competency in the areas of race, gender and sexual orientation; reporting and communication strategies; and experience working with people impacted by trauma and youth.
Community activism in response to Walsh Security had largely been energized in late 2019 by Lighthouse Foundation, headed by Rev. Jamie Frazier. In a Jan. 22 statement, Frazier called the new selection "a victory of Black LGBT-plus community organizing."
He added, "The need for Lighthouse Foundation and its call to action became apparent last summer after a series of widely publicized racist incidents involving Boystown business owners and Black patrons. As we looked into these particular events, chief among the discussion items brought to us by concerned community members was the continued employment of Walsh Security, a long-time contractor with the Center and other Boystown establishments, including the Northalsted Business Alliance. Past incidents involving Walsh Security's owner and other employees raised questions about their ability to interact with people of color in an equitable and respectful manner.
"We thank Center on Halsted CEO Modesto "Tico" Valle, as well as new Board President Angela Barnes, for doing the hard work of racial equity. Lighthouse Foundation stands ready to partner with the Center to advance justice for Black LGBTQ-plus people throughout Chicagoland."