San Diego

SD City Council Approves $27M in Security Contracts Through 2024

The cost of keeping you safe is going up, thanks in part to the city's homeless issue.

The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a plan Monday to spend nearly $27 million over the next five years on security contracts.

The money would be used to help protect city parks, city buildings and public libraries, including the central library in East Village.

Cathleen Higgins, the head of the Municipal Employees Association, says employees at the library have been “begging for as much security as appropriate.”

Higgins notes that in the past week they’ve had to deal with a number of issues involving the homeless and mentally ill.

“Just this past week a woman attempted suicide, a man was caught performing sex acts in a public area and they had to suspend several people because of intoxication,” Higgins said.

East Village resident Kathy Kantu says some things she’s seen have been downright criminal.

“You never know what's going to happen at six in the morning. I’m walking home from a workout and someone is acting erratic. Or there's a stabbing in the street. You never know if that's going to be you,” Kantu said.

Part of the increased cost in security also stems from increased portable bathrooms and security needs at city buildings after the Hepatitis A crisis.

Allstate Security Service was granted the bulk of the contract, $24.9 million.

Able Patrol and Guard was granted $1.9 million. That adds up to nearly $4.5 million dollars a year, more than double the $2 million spent in 2016.

“I’d prefer my tax dollars go directly to find homes and employment and get these people where they were medicated safely," said library regular Jennifer Rabanal.

Throughout the night Monday, San Diego Police officers made constant patrols around the library policing the homeless.

Police officials say using private security for low-level incidents will free up officers and firefighters to respond to more violent crimes.

Library regular John Conroy is hoping the homeless aren't unfairly targeted.

“You see some people get out of hand and there should be security. That doesn’t mean everybody you see out in the street is going to be violent and get out of hand.”

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