With the worries about the understaffed police department, private security companies come up in many discussions in Oakland. This is a place to document/discuss examples of private security in Oakland, whether past, current, or proposed.

Sept 26, 2013 Comparison of private patrol companies : http://oakland22x.org/   Click the tab called "Useful Links," the scroll down and click the file called "Private Patrols Compared.pdf." compared.pdf

List of Private Security Efforts

  • Frank Ogawa Plaza: The City of Oakland has had a contract with VMA (Vince Mackey Associates) since at least 2011 to provide private security. They also have a contract with Cypress Security (is this current?) for the area. Oakland Local published an article in 2011 with details on the contract.
  • First Fridays: For __ years, the City has contracted with VMA to have private security at First Fridays.
  • District 7: At several City Council Meetings in early 2013, Council Member Larry Reid stated that it was very scary to walk in his district and numerous people were discussing hiring private security.
  • Glenview: A neighborhood meeting will be held on September 10th to discuss hiring private security for the “LatView” neighborhood encompassing Townsend, La Cresta, Vista, Everett and Wellington Streets.
  • First Security Services: In response to the lack of police presence and enforcement in certain areas during 2014-2015, private security guards from the the firm have been increasingly used to protect local neighborhoods and homeowners associations in Oakland and surrounding communities. 
  • Block by Block: has provided "security ambassadors" for the Downtown Oakland Association and Lake Merrit/Uptown BID since 2009. 14 people are employed by Block by Block, though not clear if all are "security ambassadors." They provide "Supplemental Safety and Hospitality Services." (see also this article)
  • Oakmore Highlands and Upper Dimond: in 2013, a group of 63 neighbors in Oakmore Highlands (ironically, very near Mayor Jean Quan's house) hired private security to patrol the neighborhood after a spike in burglaries. See CCTimes article. See also Oakland Local
  • The reports on the death of Judy Salamon report that she was working on organizing private security in Maxwell Park. After her death, neighbors are working to hire First Alarm to patrol the area. (see ABCUPDATE: security guard started week of 9/9/13, patrolling 5 days a week, 4 hours a day, which costs 180 residents 5 cents a day (see article)
  • Rockridge District Association hired Statewide Protection Agency when? who? (see article)
  • The city contracted with private security in 2009 after the riots after the Mehserle verdict (see article)
  • 45 homes in Sequoyah Hills uses VMA, costing $20/month per household (see article), but VMA patrols 500 homes in Oakland
  • The neighborhood called Parkridge in Skyline-Hillcrest Estates will soon be covered by Intervention Group Security, which now patrols 500 homes in Oakland (see article)
  • 150 members of the Crown Ridge neighborhood in Caballo Hills near Merritt College started paying for private patrols in May.(see article)
  •  Lower Rockridge.https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/security-patrol-for-lower-rockridge-northwest/description  VMA would be providing the service. Sept 23 2013
  • South/West Lower Rockridge  https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/security-patrol-for-lower-rockridge-southwest VMA also
  • A third Crowdtilt campaign for Lower Rockridge is described as including the Uplands, and includes sections of Berkeley  Also uses VMA. Launched September/October 2013, after a robbery at the casual carpool site near the Claremont Avenue entrance to westbound Highway 24. 
  • All three Rockridge/Claremont patrol campaigns have combined efforts and are working with VMA. Security Patrols started November 4.
  • A meeting was held October 17th, 2013 to discuss private security in Temescal. 7-9 pm, Faith Presbyterian, Webster and 49th. See article.
  • Crocker Highlands / Trestle Glen has started a private patrol effort called Safer Crocker.
  • Beat 22x/Dimond is considering private security: on Wednesday, October 23, Beat 22x NCPC's Burglary Prevention Committee Private Patrol Summit, there will be a meeting at the Dimond Library at 7.
  • People in Dimond are considering getting private security: http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/crime-law/robberies-push-oakland-residents-consider-private-/nc84y/
  • Walgreens in The Laurel-ish: After a fatal shooting in the parking lot in February, 2014, neighbors in Maxwell Park started a petition urging the management of the Walgreens at 3434 High Street to get a full time armed security guard.  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/805/000/800/ 
  • The Rockridge efforts combined into "Safer Rockridge" in March, 2014 and North, South and Uplands hired Premiere Protective Service. It appears there is currently one guard patrolling. 
  • "Safer Temescal" launched a crowdtilt campaign in mid-April, 2014 "to fund a security patrol in Temescal for a 6-month trial period beginning June 2014 and continuing through November 2014" using IGI. Read more at the crowdtilt page.  
  • SaferTemescal CrowdTilt exceeded its goal of 100 contributions of $157 each. This prepays 6 month trial period @$25/month. As of June 2, 2014 it received 119 contributions via CrowdTilt and and an additional several after close of CrowdTilt. Because two people contributed more than $157/each, the total number of contributors was about 110. About 15 of the contributions were from businesses even though the patrol does not cover businesses. Total households in Temescal are approx 1,200. About 700 of those are owner occupied. Every resident will be provided patrol phone number to report problematic situations. Contributors get additional services. Residents advised to call OPD first if any hint of violence in a situation. facebook.com/safertemescal  info only: help@SaferTemescal.com

In the News:

One Opinion: The  interest in starting up private patrols is gaining momentum as of late September. As one participant in the Upper Dimond described it, this is entirely grass roots and usually not organized by the existing NCPC or Crime Watch structures. City Council members seem lukewarm at best about the movement.

Note that none of these patrols are armed with anything more than cell phones and radios at this time even thought some of the providers, such as  VMA,  employees (officers?) are trained and licensed to carry firearms.

One Opinion: To a large extent these groups are doing what the City should have done years ago but could not because of contracts with the police association and state laws: create a lower paid tier of flat foots who drive/walk beats. Who don't have any college credits and pass a less difficult training program than current cops go thru. But flat foots with street smarts and emotional intelligence. That would also make it easier to find qualified people from poor sections of Oakland.  Considering that according to the Aljazeer America article there are about 3500 private patrol subscribers, and based on Temescal, Rockridge (need to check that), and King Estates sign up percentage of about 8%, could be approx. 43,000 residents living in private patrolled neighborhoods. Since those are mostly in the more affluent parts of town, those residents represent a disproportionate share of likely voters who in coming elections will be asked to pay for higher taxes for public safety. Not clear how they will respond. Not clear also how big a factor private patrols have been in the decline of home burglaries in the last six months that OPD is taking credit for considering all of Oakland above 580 is now covered by private patrols and those areas were the ones with rapid increase in property crime over last few years. 

According to another Upper Dimond organizer , the groups are usually set up as non-profits (assumedly not charitable) so they can open bank accounts. They collect a year's fees in advance and select the security vendor. There will be volunteers developing evaluation methods to evaluate the effectiveness of the various services.

All the patrols set up to date (late Sept 2013) have been in the East Hills and Lower Hills.  Not clear how effective they would be in the flats of say lower Rockridge where there are many points of easy access and exit, and much more transient foot and car traffic that makes it much harder to identify "suspicious people."  Also not clear if the "free rider" issue makes it to hard to get cost per household acceptable if there are many multi unit buildings and/or a high percentage of renters vs owners. Free rider effect will be minimized by security company providing additional services at no cost to paid residents such as responding to phone calls or go on premises if alarm is sounding.

Security Guard Shooting

On February 13, 2014, a security guard for the company Security Code 3 shot a burglary suspect in the leg in Oakmore Highlands. (see story)

An open letter to Libby Schaaf was posted on Oakland Local. An article in the East Bay Express discussed the potential consequences of the guard's actions.