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Security Guards Could Patrol Santa Monica Buses


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Santa Monica College
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Santa Monica, CA 90405
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By Jorge Casuso

January 19, 2024 -- Amid a rise in crime and disturbances, Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus (BBB) fleet could soon be patrolled by unarmed security guards as part of a contract the City Council will consider Tuesday.

Under the proposed $7.4 million contract through Fiscal Year 2028-29, Good Guard Security, Inc. would provide security guard services at Department of Transportation (DOT) facilities and aboard buses, according to a staff report to the Council.

It would mark the first time security services would be expanded from safeguarding facilities from hazards and threats to riding aboard buses and conducting foot patrols at BBB bus stops.

The transit Safety Officers (TSOs) would help drivers provide customer service, "assist with security-related disturbances, serve as a deterrent to crime and unwanted behaviors, and support the City’s efforts in addressing homelessness."

The proposed contract will help the City's DOT meet new requirements proposed by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) "to improve safety by reducing the number and rates of accidents, injuries, and assaults on transit workers," staff wrote.

Since 2019, Santa Monica buses have seen an increase in "passenger disturbances, assaults, code of conduct violations, and health and safety concerns," according to staff.

"While Motor Coach Operators (MCOs) do their best to manage onboard security situations, they are limited in what they can do to assist with onboard disturbances," staff wrote.

The uniformed security guards "will be trained in de-escalation techniques and will be equipped with radios and cell phones to quickly request law enforcement assistance if necessary."

They also will receive mental health awareness training and techniques
to de-escalate situations involving those suffering from mental health issues, staff said.

In addition to providing security, the guards will distribute resource cards to the homeless on buses and at stops, staff said. The cards provide information about services available in Santa Monica and outside the city limits.

Under the proposed contract -- which includes providing existing security services at BBB facilities -- the City would pay Good Guard $653,136 during Fiscal Year 2023-24, which ends on June 30.

The City would them pay $1,350,936 a year for the next five fiscal years "contingent on council budget approval," staff said.

Good guard has a proven track record in Santa Monica, staff said.

After the City transitioned security services for the Downtown parking structures to Good Guard in January 2023, crime in the structures dropped 24.5 percent from the previous year, according to the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD).

"SMPD also noted Good Guard’s flexibility when additional staffing was needed and their collaboration with the Homelessness Liaison Program and other meetings regarding homeless outreach, maintenance, and crime in the downtown area," staff wrote.

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