By Daniel /OB Rag
Though not widely discussed, the presence of a new security force in Ocean Beach has some OBceans alarmed.
National Public Safety has been retained by the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association to “keep Ocean Beach family-friendly by enhancing public safety in specific geographical locations” … this after the OBMA dumped Elite Services USA (the red shirts) for general ineffectiveness.
As a security force, neither outfit has much leeway to effect actual change in terms of cleaning up the streets. Security guards in California are private citizens, and have no powers of arrest beyond that of any other private citizen and they’ve no power to temporarily detain anyone [editor: although they can make “citizen’s arrest” and detain someone until police arrive – much like supermarket security can do].
So within the context of Ocean Beach, they lean on California Penal Code 647 – “disorderly conduct, including loitering on public property, drunk in public, and illegal lodging on private property” – Elite Services encouraged business owners to put up “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs and would be seen conversing with some of the natives, but little beyond that. The main difference between Elite Services USA and National Public Safety is in image – both cultivated and real.
National Public Safety staffers dress in brown uniforms that give them the general look of law enforcement, travel in Crown Victorias – also brown and marked to look like law enforcement, and they also employ ex-military and ex-police within their ranks. Thus far, it seems their primary mode of enforcement is one of intimidation. They wear guns on their side, which at any given time brazenly increases the number of firearms on our streets, and not in a citizenry-sense, for these armed, uniformed strangers are not beholden to the community of Ocean Beach, but it’s merchant association. What could go wrong?
The two main Elite Services employees who worked Ocean Beach could be described as “grandfatherly” and “a big red teddy bear” rather accurately. They weren’t exactly welcome, but they weren’t walking around packing heat, either.
Without delving into the national debate about firearm safety and security, especially in regards to the public and/or public places, this writer ascribes to the notion that the less guns on our streets, the better.
There’s a world of discernible difference between a sworn San Diego Police Officer and a private hireling with a Glock and a gripe. So while NPS hires have been patrolling the Farmer’s Market and other neighborhood streets this past week, not everyone was aware that the old security firm was being replaced with a much more militarized outfit.
When NPS went door-to-door on Newport Avenue leaving literature (see attached) about the change, no mention was made to the fact that new patrols would be armed with lethal force. The lack of transparency from the jump is troubling and leads to questions about the process that led to the selection of National Public Safety.
Was there one?
A Google search for “National Public Safety” is a public relations nightmare – everything a company doesn’t want the public to see when they look for them online. It reads like a litany of laughable, lamentable gaffes and goofs, and then you remember that these goons are gendarme’ing our streets.
Their Facebook page’s most recent update is “Selfie Day” picture and spans back to 2011 with entries such as “so bored just sit in my office and watch YouTube” … on www.ripoffreport.com, a chilling tale about withheld paychecks, skimmed wages, and ultimately, a complaint filed with the California Board of Labor – one which the ex-NPS employee won – and reports that at least 25 other individuals had filed complaints against NPS.
On Manta.com, a site that aggregates information on small businesses, NPS is estimated to have approximately 56 employees. Nearly thirty labor complaints filed against a company that employs under 60 employees, some of whom are armed with lethal force and sharing the streets with our families and children.
On Officers.com – a site that bills itself as “Law Enforcement’s leading source for News, Training, Jobs and Online Forums for local, county, state and federal law enforcement police and officers” there is a thread dating back to 2009 decrying NPS’s unprofessionalism from actual police officers who roll code and stick bodies in the cage – the sort pictured in this YouTube video that shows an NPS employee involved in the wrong end of a drunken hit-and-run incident before leading SDPD officers on a short chase on our highways – hardly safe, in any sort of public sense.
In fact, one struggles very hard to find any sort of positive or good mention of National Public Safety on the Internet – whether fraudulent or otherwise.
Their Yelp.com page offers more personal testimonials about back wages not being paid, bounced checks, and perhaps, the only positive mention of NPS on the World Wide Web – a review that advises one to check their website for recommendations and testimonials from, for example, the Coronado Fire Department.
When visiting nationalpublicsafety.com, the one testimonial from the City of Coronado Fire Department begins with … “Dear Open House Participant” and is nothing more than a form letter sent to non-governmental agencies that may or may not want to participate in the *2010* Fire Department Open House. Their website is filled with broken links and gives off the stench of a neglected presence – indeed, with all the negative publicity, it seems that NPS has abandoned their public image to the wolves – yet they won out and now patrol our streets with lethal force.
Further digging reveals a suit filed against Douglas Frost, the CEO of National Public Safety, for impersonating a police officer. From the top-down, NPS seems nothing short of shady.
How did the OBMA end up selecting NPS to patrol our streets, and if something goes wrong, where does the accountability lie? Are NPS officers going to selectively “protect” OBMA businesses and interests over non-dues paying businesses and the citizenry? Something is … missing.
This, coupled with the seemingly set-in-stone surveillance cameras coming to the beach areas seem to be death knells for what Ocean Beach has rallied against in the past – how do we go from a sleepy little beach community with a certain, irresistible je ne sais quoi to a gentrification battleground, replete with around-the-clock surveillance at our ultimate draw, the Ocean, and hired, armed guards patrolling our streets during our family-friendly events, and an air of “okayness” about it at all. Something’s rotten in OB – will we take it?