Just a day after writing in this blog that the Oakland City Council made the decision to hire a private security firm, the city had ended those plans.
The reason: The founder and two other executives of the security firm, International Services Inc, were charged with fraud.
According to the Wall Street Journal follow-up, founder Ousama Karawia and two vice presidents were accused last week of defrauding the state to a tune of more than $9 million in workers compensation.
The City Council still plans on hiring a private security group, according to the article.
Ignacio De La Fuente, a city council member in support of the armed guards, told writer Bobby White of the Wall Street Journals that, “There is still a very serious need for security in some of our more crime-plagued areas.”
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums believes that law enforcement should be left up to trained police officers. Some of our readers agree with Dellums and weighed in on the comment board below. Tell us what you think.
With public safety on the line, you’d rather rely on a trained police officer more along the lines of Die Hard than Mall Cop.
But with increasingly shrinking budgets, cities throughout California have to choose what they can afford.
In Oakland, the City Council made the decision to hire a private security agency to patrol districts rather than hirer more expensive, trained police officers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Oakland Police Department does not agree with the City Council’s decision.
“People want to go with armed guards because they believe it’s cheaper, but they lack adequate training [and] background checks,” spokesman Jeff Thomason told the Wall Street Journal. “Oakland police are better prepared for this city’s streets than a few security guards.”
Unfortunately, the idea of “not putting a price on public safety” is a cliché, not a reality.
In cities throughout California, there is increasing pressure to deal with public safety issues. There’s also less and less money to deal with the issue.
Many cities are finding ways to get creative.
The police union in the city of Sacramento reached a deal last month to concede a five percent cost of living pay raise to protect the jobs of 67 police officers. Stockton made similar concessions to save jobs.
In Santa Cruz, $219,000 of $2.3 million will go towards paying two police officers for one year.
Other cities are simply making cuts.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said on Monday that cutbacks could even hit the long-protected Los Angeles police and fire departments.
PublicCEO recently featured an in-depth piece on controlling crime in the face of budget cuts.
General thinking would conclude that the less money a city gives to its police department, the less effective that crime-fighting department will be.
But Dr. Christine Gardiner of the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at University of California, Irvine disagrees.
“There are so many factors that affect both the economy and crime, that you can’t get a causal link,” Gardiner said. “It’s a lot more complex than that.
“Crime rate is not a function of one particular thing, and the number of police per resident or population is not really related to the incidence of crime – there are neighborhood, area factors that go into it.”
Agree or disagree with Oakland’s decision to hirer a private security company? E-mail jspencer@publicCEO.com or comment below.