Some examples of this trend are visible in cities like Toronto, San Francisco, Des Moines, Iowa, and business improvement districts (BIDs) like Boston, Massachusetts. Security firms are also being hired to protect festivals and events after protesters have disrupted some high-profile events recently, like the Pride Parade and March for Our Lives rally.
In Toronto, Canada, one million dollars was recently awarded to multiple private security companies to prevent homeless people from setting up encampments or makeshift communities in the city’s public parks, which have become a growing problem since the start of the pandemic. Security officers will be on-site 24/7 at the city’s parks this summer in a move that is quite controversial. Most people feel that the funds could be better spent on providing shelter for the homeless instead of evicting them from city parks. Last year, the city spent two million dollars on policing, landscaping, and park fencing to try to handle the homeless.
San Francisco, California
In the Marina District of San Francisco, the neighbourhood has banded together to hire a private security firm to keep watch over their homes and automobiles, which have been subjected to increased crime in the last year. According to the San Francisco police department, burglaries have increased 340% in the past year. While most residents have alarms and security cameras on their properties, they wanted the extra security of someone having eyes on their homes when they are not home.
Des Moines, Iowa
A new private security contract was just awarded to a firm in Des Moines, Iowa, to put armed security officers at city hall, municipal buildings, and the armoury. The officers will handle sign-in procedures, distribute security badges for visitor control, and operate metal detectors and security screenings.
A new business improvement district (BID) in Newmarket, Massachusetts, has also recently hired private security to patrol the area and respond to calls from the local businesses that have complained about property crimes in the city.
The head of the Newmarket Business Improvement District believes it will improve the area’s safety and quality of life so that people working in the district won’t have to worry about being accosted on their to or from work. The area is known to locals as Mass and Cass or Methadone Mile and is plagued with a thriving drug market where people sell and use drugs openly on the streets.
The BID contracted a security company whose officers do not have arrest powers and are not armed. However, they can detain people who trespass on private property until local law enforcement arrives. Most of the time, trespassers leave the property of their own accord once the security officers tell them to stop loitering on private property. The security officers have also chased off burglars, vandals, and graffiti artists and occasionally have administered Narcan to reverse opioid overdoses.
The BID also works closely with the Boston police department, but the idea of hiring the security firm was to free up the police so they can attend to more serious law enforcement duties. But crime in the area and calls to 911 have risen dramatically in the area.
Something in the Water Festival
In Washington, 54,000 people are expected on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this weekend for the Something in the Water Festival, one event in a slew of events taking place in celebration of Juneteeth. Training is underway for over 800 newly hired security officers working at the festival. Derrick Parks, CEO of Metropolitan Protective Services, one of the security firms assisting in patrolling the festival, said entering the festival would be like going through airport security. “There’ll be a fenced-in perimeter for everyone coming to that concert. Parks said they would have to go through magnetometers and wands just to get on the ground.”
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