St. Paul Town Council and Administration are toying with the idea of hiring a local security company to perform nighttime patrols. The concept comes as part of an effort to reduce crime and enhance the safety of residents. The issue was first brought up at the Town Council meeting on January 14. Council discussed it in further detail during the Committee of the Whole meeting on January 17.
In theory, RF Protection and K9 Services would patrol streets, back alleys, and other areas around town. A security officer would be active during the night and early morning hours. An exact schedule of the days of the week and the times would not be shared publicly.
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a security company to do patrols would be a fiscal one. “It would cost a lot less than using our current Peace Officers”, said CAO Kim Heyman. “Putting them on additional late night or early morning shifts would interfere with their regular duties. It would also put them in a position of having to work a lot of overtime.”
It is worth noting that a private security firm would not be able to interfere with any criminal activity they witness; they do not have the power to apprehend or arrest. All they could do is phone into the RCMP. However, Heyman also noted that Peace Officers are similarly not permitted to deal with anything within the criminal code. They, too, would be restricted to calling in witnessed crimes or suspicious activity. “Security personnel can do the same thing for less cost. And they have agreed not to charge for mileage.” The agreement to not charge mileage would be contingent upon a $30 per hour rate for a previously agreed-upon minimum number of hours.
Councillor Nathan Taylor mentioned that there is already a Citizens On Patrol group that operates within St. Paul, and they have the same abilities as a security worker. He also expressed concerns that hiring a private security firm might detract from the crime-reduction efforts already in place by Citizens On Patrol. Councillor Brad Eamon countered that Citizens On Patrol could instead feel bolstered by additional support and that they should be included in further discussions surrounding this topic.
At the Committee of the Whole meeting, Staff Sergeant Corey Blize spoke to Council regarding the matter. He was neither particularly against nor in favour of the idea, pointing out the same pros and cons as Heyman and Councillor Taylor. Sergeant Blize, however, also mentioned that the odds of security personnel, or indeed even Citizens On Patrol or Peace Officers, actually witnessing a crime during a patrol are quite low. Despite the odds, however, he also said that there is a chance that crime could be reduced due to this measure.
Council isn’t rushing into anything or making quick decisions. They, along with Town Administration, will continue to discuss this issue, working closely with RCMP to come up with the best solutions and options possible.