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Downtown to Add More Private Security
By Jorge Casuso
June 27, 2023 -- Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) will add another layer of private security to work with police under a $1.7 million contract approved by the agency's board this month.
The contract with the security firm Covered 6, which was approved by the board on June 15, provides day and night security on the Promenade and surrounding streets, as well as in the public parking structures.
The added security includes a supervisor and patrol officers in marked patrol vehicles and on foot, Downtown officials said.
All are equipped with body cameras and, with the exception of the shift supervisor, the officers will be unarmed, officials said.
"This private security initiative will enable us to address changing safety needs in a proactive and comprehensive manner," said DTSM CEO Andrew Thomas.
"Together with Covered 6 and the SMPD, we are confident in our ability to create a more secure and welcoming environment that fosters the dynamic spirit and economic prosperity of Downtown Santa Monica.”
DTSM's contract with Covered 6 was approved two days after the City Council extended for five years a pilot program that provides overnight security at City parking structures in the Downtown area.
The proposed $2.2 million contract with Good Guard Security provides four unarmed guards, including a supervisor, between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. at 10 parking structures ("Council Poised to Approve $2.2 Million Contract for Parking Structure Security," June 12, 2023).
The moves come amid a growing chorus of calls for the City to crack down on rising crime and an entrenched homeless problem that is hurting Downtown businesses and making visitors feel unsafe.
According to Downtown officials, the private security program run by Covered 6 will work under the guidance and direction of police.
"Trained private security officers will respond to calls for service, allowing for a more proactive approach to maintaining safety and order in Downtown Santa Monica," officials said in a press release Tuesday.
The program will replace Downtown's existing "observe and report" initiative with a more pro-active approach, according to officials:
"By enabling private officers to respond to calls, the program will contribute to a swift and effective resolution of security concerns, further strengthening community trust and peace of mind," the release said.
The security program will place an "emphasis on outreach, connecting with social services, tracking referrals and monitoring for accountability," said Eric Sedman, the Board's chair.
Covered 6 -- which is known for its rigorous screening and training -- has provided security in Beverly Hills since the November 2020 general election, and has had four contract extensions.
According to a report in the Beverly Hills Courier, private security officers in Beverly Hills, unlike police, "are limited in how they can interface with the public and when they can intervene in situations."
"Private security can assist with medical calls, traffic control, and perimeter security, but will limit physical intervention to situations when someone presents a risk to 'someone’s safety, life, or great bodily injury,'" Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said.
“Otherwise, they’ll observe and report and let us know where and when crime is happening,” he said, according to the Courier.
Covered 6 made international news this month when two of its security guards working at a Beverly Hills gas station saved the life of a choking baby.
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