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Guards Equipped with High Tech Begin Patrolling Public Parking Structures

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By Jorge Casuso

January 3, 2023 -- Security guards armed with cameras and tracking devices have begun patrolling Santa Monica's 10 public parking structures in the Downtown area nightly, City officials report.

Under a six-month $200,000 pilot program, Good Guard Security, Inc. is deploying four guards between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. seven days a week at the seven Downtown structures and those at the Main Library, Civic Center and Ken Edwards Center.

That's up from the two guards that previously patrolled eight structures between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. nightly, according to a report last month from the City's Transportation Department

The structures -- which have been riddled with property crimes and anti-social behavior -- have been the target of frustrated Downtown property owners, including one who hung a building-sized banner that declared the area unsafe, drawing widespread media attention.

Under the pilot program, which could be extended to a five-year period, the unarmed guards will be equipped with cell phones and body cameras and cameras mounted on the front and rear dash of their vehicles.

Guards also will use a Silvertrac "monitoring system which provides live GPS-based tracking capabilities," according to the December 12 report from Ed King, who heads the Transportation Department.

The technology allows designated City staff members to "look up the current location of guards as well as download GPS-based activity reports showing the location of guards throughout their shifts."

According to the report, "The system also provides notifications of guard inactivity, which is both a quality control measure and a safety measure."

Allied Universal Services had been providing overnight security on a temporary basis while the City explored a long-term security strategy for the parking structures, which include stairwells, elevators, public restrooms and refuse enclosures.

Allied began providing the services in 2018 after a "significant" increase in burglary theft from motor vehicles, according to the report.

Such crimes decreased by 51 percent the following year before the services were terminated in April 2020 during the coronavirus shutdown.

In early 2021, reports of vandalism and safety concerns at the downtown parking structures increased, prompting the City to bring back Allied.

After negotiations to include long-term security services in the City's agreement with Santa Monica, Inc. failed, the Transportation Department took over responsibility and extended Allied's contract through December 31, while the City put out a bid for contractors.

Eleven vendors applied, and seven met the qualifications. Four submitted bids.

"Good Guard stood out among the group for two reasons: their technology and their customer-oriented approach to security services," according to the report from King. That includes connecting the homeless to available services.

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