Police reach out to private security firms www.privateofficer.com
Long Beach Ca. Oct 29 2010 During a press conference Friday, Oct. 22, Police Chief Jim McDonnell said that private security firms and law enforcement agencies haven’t always had the most amicable relationship — but at least in Long Beach, the relationship between the two entities is poised to become more mutually beneficial.
The conference, titled “Public Safety and The Importance of Private Security Sponsorships,” was hosted by the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) and sponsored by several private security firms. Kraig Kojian, president and CEO of the DLBA, said the goal of the event was to strengthen relationships through education and information sharing among private security companies/personnel, downtown stakeholders, and the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD).
McDonnell’s speech emphasized the need for a major metro city such as Long Beach to have a public/private cooperative featuring cross-training sessions and effeective information sharing among agencies. McDonnell said that the private sector is more advanced than many police departments in terms of specialized technology and how to deal with loss prevention and computer crimes.
“Law enforcement and private security need each other, especially now as we face the (impacts) of the worst economic downturn in recent history,” McDonnell said. “The two fields possess the same strengths, but they have different goals. With the police department, it used to be the mindset that 98% of what we do is confidential, but that’s not so — so much more can be shared. And private security guards give us the ability to have more eyes and ears out there, and that’s an asset… There are about 900 police officers in Long Beach and maybe 5,000 to 10,000 private security employees.”
McDonnell said budget cuts have hindered the city’s need for establishing its own bomb squad and caused a reduction of approximately 40 LBPD officers.
However, McDonnell shared uplifting news with the attendees.
“We’re down 12.5% in murders from last year, and we’re about half of what we were eight years ago in all our (crime statistics),” McDonnell said. “So many of our crimes are crimes of opportunity… If we finish where we are now at the end of the year, (our statistics) will be where we were at in 1972.”
Another of McDonnell’s goals is to have the closed-circuit television cameras that are installed throughout the city wired to “talk” with each other. Business owners are supposed to install cameras at the front and rear of their stores, and McDonnell said more cameras are going to be placed in high crime areas.
“Security personnel know this area like the back of their hand and they haven’t been invited to the table,” McDonnell said. “We’re all going to have to become more responsible as it relates to community policing… I’d like training for each group… We need each other as resources.”
Mary Coburn, DLBA operations manager, said the DLBA has a Downtown Security Alliance that meets at 10 a.m. every third Thursday of the month at the Landmark Square building. The meetings focuses on topics such as workplace violence, financial crimes and phishing scams in Long Beach, local crime statistics and trends, and the regional public private information collaboration system.
As of Oct. 1, the DLBA’s Downtown Guides became part of Service Group Inc. (SGI), instead of Block By Block, the program’s former security firm. Shane Hillard, director of corporate support services for SGI, said the company has employees in 25 business improvement districts across the country. Hillard said SGI employees undergo rigorous training and have an extensive knowledge of their areas.
“We’re looking forward to working with (the LBPD), and we’d love to jump on whatever training is planned in the future,” Hillard said.