A private security service, hired by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, began patrolling the Downtown this week, a move that has pleased some business owners who are frustrated by ongoing crime and sanitation issues.
Uniformed staff with CSI Patrol Service Inc., which also has contracts serving business districts in Belmont Shore and Bixby Knolls, will patrol on bike and foot around Pine Avenue, The Promenade and the East Village, according to a news release from the alliance. The Downtown contract lasts six months.
The security boost comes about a month after city leaders rolled out their plan to revitalize the area and make it safer, which was itself a response to recent widely publicized incidents such as a woman’s assault that was caught on camera while she walked on a Downtown sidewalk.
Downtown workers who have experienced safety problems welcomed the news.
Clare Le Bras, who manages Italian restaurant Michael’s Downtown, called the extra security “a great step” that she and several other businesses have been requesting for years. Michael’s staff has struggled with people creating public disturbances nearby and camping on their patio.
“It’s just making it a little bit better for all of us who want to keep our jobs and keep the city safe,” Le Bras said. “It’s a huge relief.”
Confidential Coffee owner Denise Maldonado agreed that it’s great news. This fall, her shop on West Sixth Street near Pacific Avenue saw three break-ins in the course of two months, and after turning to an alarm system for protection, she was hit with a $400 city fine for false alarms, she said.
“If they’re hiring somebody, at least I don’t have to rely on the police,” Maldonado said, adding that she understands the Long Beach Police Department is struggling to fill vacancies, and “I’m not really quite sure what can be done about that.”
Private security has made a difference in other neighborhoods. “We’ve been more than satisfied, very happy because we have somebody to call to address any issues immediately when they’re on duty,” Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association Executive Director Blair Cohn said.
Security guards in Bixby Knolls serve as extra eyes on the street, they can point people in need toward emergency shelter and other services, or they can manage a situation until police arrive, Cohn said.
And seeing security staff going door to door, stopping in to check on or chat with business owners and workers gives people peace of mind, he said, adding, “That’s the biggest thing, really.”