OB Town Council – Presentations on OB’s Controversial Private Cops and Women’s Self-Defense – Wed., May 25th

by on May 24, 2016 · 5 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, Politics

OB security patrol

Staff of National Public Safety.

This Wednesday, May 25th, the Ocean Beach Town Council will hold its monthly public meeting at the Masonic Center, located at 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd, at 7pm as usual.

Besides the usual reports from the different politicians’ reps, reports from the public agencies that serve OB: fire department, police, lifeguard, elementary school, and library, and after all the Board members give their reports, the Town Council will move into its main agenda item: ‘OB public safety – engagement and empowerment”.

At the top of the public safety element, is a presentation of the OB Mainstreet Association’s “OB Security Program”- the enlistment of private security team patrols of a company called the National Public Safety (NPS).  Reportedly, NPS teams “patrol the business districts of OB and work closely with SDPD to get positive results for the entire community.”

Next will be a mini free self-defense class from Phillip Gordon, a local instructor of HARD TARGET Women’s Self-Defense Classes and Workshops. (See the full agenda below.)

Are the Private Armed Patrols Helping or Hindering Ocean Beach?

Now, the private armed patrols of the NPS are quite controversial – although there was no hint of this in the OBTC website announcement of the monthly meeting and agenda items.  The OB Rag has heard numerous complaints from residents about the patrols, and published a critical article about them back in 2015.

The OBTC announcement also reprinted a description of the private security patrol by the OBMA which contracted with NPS:

Ocean Beach Security Program

Since its launch in the summer of 2014, the OB Security Program has made an enormous difference in addressing the problems in our area. Our security team patrols, National Public Safety or NPS, in the business districts of OB. The security team and Ocean Beach MainStreet Association staff work closely with San Diego Police Department to get positive results for the entire community.

Some of their duties include:

Assisting with crowd control during the Ocean Beach Farmers Market and other large events.
Serving court papers, such as restraining orders, stay-away orders, or orders to appear in court.
Responding to calls from merchants about loitering or other issues. NPS officers speak with the potential bad behaviorists, provide information on assistance, and escort them off the property if needed.

Responding to calls from merchants about public intoxication. In these situations, NPS officers advise the person to have someone pick them up; if needed, SDPD is called for assistance.
Serve as a deterrent to bad behavior, panhandling, and large gatherings blocking the public right of way.

In a piece about the patrols published in November 2015, author Daniel Hewitt took them to task.

Hewitt first noted that NPS was hired “after the OBMA dumped Elite Services USA (the red shirts) for general ineffectiveness.” Hewitt went on:

As a security force, neither outfit has much leeway to effect actual change in terms of cleaning up the streets. Security guards in California are private citizens, and have no powers of arrest beyond that of any other private citizen and they’ve no power to temporarily detain anyone – 

although as we noted then, that private security agents can make “citizen’s arrest” and detain someone until police arrive – much like super-market security can do.

Hewitt stressed the difference between the former Elite Services and the new outfit.

Elite Services encouraged business owners to put up “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs and would be seen conversing with some of the natives, but little beyond that. The main difference between Elite Services USA and National Public Safety is in image – both cultivated, and real.

National Public Safety staffers dress in brown uniforms that give them the general look of law enforcement, travel in Crown Victorias – also brown and marked to look like law enforcement, and they also employ ex-military and ex-police within their ranks.

However, the main criticism that the article levels is one of substance. Referring to the armed NPS patrols –

… it seems their primary mode of enforcement is one of intimidation. They wear guns on their side, which at any given time brazenly increases the number of firearms on our streets, and not in a citizenry-sense, for these armed, uniformed strangers are not beholden to the community of Ocean Beach, but it’s merchant association.

Then Hewitt asks sarcastically: “What could go wrong?”

There’s a world of discernible difference between a sworn San Diego Police Officer and a private hireling with a Glock and a gripe. So while NPS hires have been patrolling the Farmer’s Market and other neighborhood streets … not everyone was aware that the old security firm was being replaced with much more militarized outfit.

When NPS went door-to-door on Newport Avenue leaving literature bout the change, no mention was made to the fact that new patrols would be armed with lethal force. The lack of transparency from the jump is troubling, and leads to questions about the process that led to the selection of National Public Safety.

Looking further into the company itself, Hewitt said he uncovered a public relations nightmare via a Google search for “National Public Safety” ;

… everything a company doesn’t want the public to see when they look for them online. It reads like a litany of laughable, lamentable gaffes and goofs, and then you remember that these goons are gendarme’ing our streets.

He continues:

Their Facebook page’s most recent update is “Selfie Day” picture and spans back to 2011 with entries such as “so bored just sit in my office and watch YouTube” … on www.ripoffreport.com, a chilling tale about withheld paychecks, skimmed wages, and ultimately, a complaint filed with the California Board of Labor – one which the ex-NPS employee won – and reports that at least 25 other individuals had filed complaints against NPS.

On Manta.com, a site that aggregates information on small businesses, NPS is estimated to have approximately 56 employees. Nearly thirty labor complaints filed against a company that employs under 60 employees, some of whom are armed with lethal force and sharing the streets with our families and children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

National Public Safety patrol car appears very much like an actual law enforcement vehicle.

On Officers.com – a site that bills itself as “Law Enforcement’s leading source for News, Training, Jobs and Online Forums for local, county, state and federal law enforcement police and officers” there is a thread dating back to 2009 decrying NPS’s unprofessionalism from actual police officers who roll code and stick bodies in the cage – the sort pictured in this YouTube video that shows an NPS employee involved in the wrong end of a drunken hit-and-run incident before leading SDPD officers on a short chase on our highways – hardly safe, in any sort of public sense.

In fact, one struggles very hard to find any sort of positive or good mention of National Public Safety on the Internet – whether fraudulent or otherwise.

Their Yelp.com page offers more personal testimonials about back wages not being paid, bounced checks, and perhaps, the only positive mention of NPS on the World Wide Web – a review that advises one to check their website for recommendations and testimonials from, for example, the Coronado Fire Department.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

NPS patrol car in residential area of Ocean Beach.

When visiting nationalpublicsafety.com, the one testimonial from the City of Coronado Fire Department begins with … “Dear Open House Participant” and is nothing more than a form letter sent to non-governmental agencies that may or may not want to participate in the *2010* Fire Department Open House. Their website is filled with broken links and gives off the stench of a neglected presence – indeed, with all the negative publicity, it seems that NPS has abandoned their public image to the wolves – yet they won out and now patrol our streets with lethal force.

Further digging reveals a suit filed against Douglas Frost, the CEO of National Public Safety, for impersonating a police officer. From the top-down, NPS seems nothing short of shady.

OB security ellite

Discarded Elite security staff.

Finally, Hewitt asked the questions:

How did the OBMA end up selecting NPS to patrol our streets, and if something goes wrong, where does the accountability lie? Are NPS officers going to selectively “protect” OBMA businesses and interests over non-dues paying businesses and the citizenry? Something is … missing.

And lastly, he completes his analysis:

This, coupled with the seemingly set-in-stone surveillance cameras coming to the beach areas seem to be death knells for what Ocean Beach has rallied against in the past – how do we go from a sleepy little beach community with a certain, irresistible je ne sais quoi to a gentrification battleground, replete with around-the-clock surveillance at our ultimate draw, the Ocean, and hired, armed guards patrolling our streets during our family-friendly events, and an air of “okayness” about it at all. Something’s rotten in OB – will we take it?

Here is the official OBTC Agenda for May 25, 2016:

 

OBTC agenda 5-25-16

 

 

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar CliffHanger May 25, 2016 at 7:21 pm

Does OBMA and/or each of its voting members carry some seriously huge insurance policy in case one of these armed, NPS not-cops uses his gun, or will the citizens of Ocean Beach be picking up that legal tab somehow?

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Avatar nostalgic May 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm

I wondered about those black leather holster-looking things on their hips. What’s in those containers? Are they guns, tasers, cell phones? Anybody know?

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Avatar Colin Purdy May 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Generally speaking, that is, without expert knowledge of such things, I’d have to say I’m very much against OBMA being permitted to put a private corporate armed force on the streets, along with one of it’s corollaries, that this permission comes from the City with a grant of public money, I believe. I’m not typically in favor of privatization of generally public services, like municipal policing, as I strongly believe that in many cases granting public funds to bidders for private profit results in less though more expensive service in return on the dollar and more of it to private profit, sometimes with less well compensated or qualified private employees. Many of us in OB recently have criticized the near wanton cases of tree cutting by Atlas under aegis of the City, and ‘aegis’ may sound to grand a term for the oversight by the City of Atlas. So, I don’t think going cheap on policing is a probably a great idea, either. That said, I don’t actually know if any of this is true regarding NPS, and I don’t mean to cast personal aspersion. But if more policing is needed, I would much rather see better development and funding of our public municipal police force, and not a proliferation of private armed forces at the behest of this or that merchant association or business. In his interview with the UT, I believe Ed Harris spoke of legitimate problems facing SPD concerning attrition and competitive compensation, and I don’t think spending public money on private police forces is going to help. Vanilla Blackwater Inc. in OB? No, thanks.

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Avatar rick callejon May 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm

The rent-a-cops pack heat.

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Avatar nostalgic May 26, 2016 at 4:07 pm

I am not sure if the pictures show concealed weapons, or open-carry holsters. You can’t exactly see the gun in it’s holster, like on Roy Rogers in the movies. Some private security forces do carry tasers, which do not seem to require licensing, and anybody can carry one. Do these people have permits for the guns?

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