Roughly a month after the San Clemente City Council authorized a subcommittee to vet private security firms that would monitor areas for homeless-related activities, the group has provided a recommendation for a three-month contract that is expected to be discussed Tuesday night, May 16.
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Knoblock and Councilmember Victor Cabral interviewed three companies in addition to considering Gatekeepers Security Services—which first appeared in front of the council during a special meeting in March.
The two recommended the city hire Allied Universal Security Services, the “largest private security firm in the world,” to provide four officers working 12-hour shifts to cover North Beach and the “T-zone” at a rate of $58,079 per month.
The council will decide whether to ratify the recommendation Tuesday, given that it voted on April 18 to authorize the use of private security while discussing the North Beach Placemaking Plan.
North Beach residents have grown increasingly dissatisfied with their quality of life in recent months, voicing their desires at community and council meetings for a crackdown on illicit activities such as overnight camping and vandalism.
Such complaints led to Gatekeepers proposing its services to the city. The Oceanside-based firm would have operated for 60 days on a 24/7 basis at a monthly rate of $131,400, which the council declined.
In addition to Allied Universal, the subcommittee also spoke with FireWatch Solutions and High Level Security Solutions.
The San Clemente-based FireWatch indicated it was flexible to work with the city regarding hours and the number of on-site officers, who would be equipped with vehicles and body cameras but are unarmed, according to the subcommittee’s report.
FireWatch has “limited experience” working with government and submitted two proposals: $41,520 per month for two officers to work 12 hours a day, and $126,764 a month for 24-hour services with four officers.
Regarding High Level, the report identified the business as the most enforcement-minded company of the candidates, with experience working with government agencies and led by a founder with law enforcement background.
“All of their officers are armed with lethal weapons, used only for defense,” the report read. “In more than 14 years in business, an officer has yet to draw their lethal weapon.”
High Level proposed providing 24-hour coverage with two officers at the cost of $94,080 per month.
San Clemente Chief of Police Services Jay Christian also gave the subcommittee two proposals that would enhance the presence of deputies under his watch.
The first option involved creating a new patrol zone comprising four new deputy positions, which would cost $120,953 each month along with equipment and vehicles, totaling roughly $1.45 million after a year.
Christian added that the Orange County’s Sheriff’s Department could also provide a new Behavioral Health Liaison Officer in addition to the one already working in town, as well as two deputies, at a monthly rate of $95,501.
For Allied Universal, the report highlighted the firm’s track record of governmental experience and full range of services offered.
“The firm is large enough that they are able to substitute the type of officer provided depending on the need as conditions change,” according to the report. “The firm uses tracking and logging equipment that will allow site specific data to be collected and recorded.”
Allied Universal initially proposed 12-hour coverage with two officers costing $28,315 per month and 24-hour coverage with two officers costing $44,171 monthly, before further discussion with the subcommittee led to the additional $58,079-per-month option.
The report stated that Allied Universal’s competitive pricing, experience, and size were primary factors helping rise above the other options. If the three-month contract is approved Tuesday, the firm could have officers ready to begin service within the next 30 to 45 days.
During the three-month trial run, the subcommittee will also be tasked with reviewing data and reporting its findings to the council, analyzing the private security’s effectiveness against hiring additional park rangers and Code Enforcement officers or sheriff’s deputies, and analyzing whether to use private security, city staff, and deputies altogether.
“At the end of three months, or sooner if determined appropriate, the Subcommittee will present findings to the City Council regarding a longer-term approach to improving safety in public spaces in San Clemente,” the city said in the report.
The metrics used to evaluate a firm’s performance include the location, number, and time of day of contacts made; the type of violations found; the number of unique and repeat contacts; the number of calls made to OCSD from the firm; the number of services accepted and refused, such as for mental and medical health and housing; and the number of violations committed by residents and visitors.
Tuesday’s council meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., starting with the closed session. The council will conduct the public portion of the meeting starting at around 6 p.m. on the second floor of City Hall at 910 Calle Negocio.
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