San Juan Bautista City Council members held a special meeting June 16 to discuss a contract with Level 1 Private Security to augment the public safety agreement the city has with the San Benito County Sheriff's Department.
According to city manager Roger Grimsley, the current agreement provides the city with a sheriff's deputy that patrols the city limits for four hours a day and doubles up on weekends.
City council members heard from JT Tomlinson, COO and co-founder of Level 1 Private Security, about the services his company offers.
Vice mayor Chris Martorana said a key time for extra security patrols would be from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. “What pushes me to do something like this — and quickly — is all the break-ins, especially downtown,” Martorana said.
Tomlinson recommended that his guards work a 10-hour shift with peak hours being from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. “I’m more than willing to talk to you guys and negotiate,” he said. “I’m just here to give you guys the tools to get the job done.”
The company said it would cost the city $2,760 per month for one guard. The price does not include a patrol car, but Tomlinson reminded the board that the price is negotiable according to city needs.
“Our numbers are high because we hire educated guys who won’t embarrass me or the city of San Juan Bautista,” Tomlinson said.
The city would not be responsible for Tomlinson’s staff in terms of liability, workers compensation and other expenses, he said. It would only be responsible for the monthly rate.
The council and Tomlinson agreed that security guards would act as the eyes and ears for the sheriff department.
“Our job is to observe and to report,” said Tomlinson.
Councilman Robert Lund said, “We’re trying to do something were we have the sheriffs' part and the security part without having them overlap.”
In addition to providing the city with security, Tomlinson wants the guards to become part of the community. “I want them to be approachable with the citizens of San Juan Bautista,” he said.
He told the council that he puts security cameras on the cars and his staff wears body cameras. Everything is voice-recorded, audio-recorded, and video-recorded.
Councilman Tony Boch wanted to know if the guards would be able to give parking citations, saying, “If you see an 18-wheeler downtown you can’t give him a ticket?”
Tomlinson said, “We can get on our PA (public address) system and tell trucks to back up.” He added that depending on the scope of the contract, his security officers would be able to secure citing powers by going through a one-week training program.
While no action was taken, the council did agree that by having private security it would stop a lot of the crime that happens in the city.
Taylor Jordan, a Level 1 Private Security staff sergeant from San Juan Bautista, said, “We will be there for a visual deterrent.”
“The deterrent is what we want,” said Martorana. “I’m 100 percent in favor of going with a security system. I just want to make sure there’s enough money to pay for this.”
The council asked Tomlinson to send a proposal to Grimsley with details on pricing and from there, it would consider its options.
The next city council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday June 21 in the council chambers at City Hall on Second Street in San Juan Bautista. Among the topics on the agenda is an ordinance that would require the licensing of tobacco retailers and the adoption of the city's budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.