Claire Bresnahan 
Member since Feb 2, 2016


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Re: “Why Private Security Patrols Are Not the Answer

Thank you for this interesting discussion. I'd like to add to anyone who's still reading this that, if there are going to be security guards hired by neighborhood associations, they should really be in uniforms and have some kind of signs on their patrol cars.

Unmarked private patrols are, at least as far as my peace of mind is concerned, worse than nothing. I live a few blocks away from where Larry Ward was shot by an SV3 guard, and I understand that this is not an issue that's easy to discuss, but having various SUVs with tinted windows following me at a distance when I go for a walk doesn't contribute to a sense of safety in the community. I hope that these cars belong to paid security guards, but without clearly marked patrol vehicles, it's impossible to distinguish the behavior of a vigilant observe-and-report type from the behavior of an aspiring rapist.

To be fair to SV3, they do clearly mark their cars, and I very much appreciate that. If the theory is that the obvious presence of security is a deterrent, it just makes sense to make that presence as obvious as possible, and also obeying local laws regarding security guards making their identity clear.

It seems clear that there's a certain defensiveness and secretive attitude on the part of the neighbors who are taking these steps, perhaps because they anticipate a negative response from our more outrage-prone fellow Oaklanders? I've had a lot of trouble getting anyone to be candid or direct about who's hiring, paying, and overseeing these guards, even after speaking directly with several such security officers (in Brentwood, the Dimond, and Temescal, among other neighborhoods.)

It's tempting to circle the wagons when one feels under siege, but furtiveness and secrecy are the enemies of public trust and civil society... Come on, HOAs and neighborhood watches: take a stand in the name of transparency and give your employees permission to disclose basic facts like who pays them, and for what. In the absence of transparency, people will tend to assume the worst.

Posted by Claire Bresnahan on 02/02/2016 at 2:13 PM

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