Ad Hoc Committee’s Feasibility Study
Last summer, in response to requests from the South Shores community, the South Shores Community Association (SSCA) formed an ad hoc committee. The committee’s purpose is to research the feasibility of a private security patrol service for South Shores.
Because the costs of such a service would be borne exclusively by South Shores residents, the task at hand was to learn:
- The community’s level of interest in a security patrol service.
- The costs to the community of such a service.
- The number of homeowners willing to contribute financially to its support.
In short, the more residents are willing to pay for the service, the lower the cost per household.
To assist the committee in the next phase of its research, a focus group was formed as a preliminary “sounding board” for the concept. The focus group met January 7, 2017. This group consists of approximately 15 South Shores residents representing a range of our community’s neighborhoods with a roughly 50:50 mix of upper and lower South Shores homeowners.
Input from this group helped provide a more complete understanding of this undertaking and prompted questions not yet asked in this research.
The as hoc committee has met, interviewed and obtained bids from 3 security patrol companies:
- ADT Patrol - based in Torrance.
- Black Knight Patrol Private Security Services - based in San Pedro.
- Southwest Patrol, Inc. - based in Diamond Bar.
Several months ago, the committee made contact with ADT Patrol following an exploratory meeting with the Operations Manager of one of their clients, the non-profit SMPA (Santa Monica Protective Association).
After examining the SMPA – ADT model, the committee asked the two competing security patrol companies to submit bids including the same service features as ADP Patrol to ensure true comparisons among the bids.
THE SMPA – ADT MODEL AND HOW IT IS ORGANIZED
Early in its research, the committee learned of a neighborhood funded patrol program called the Santa Monica Protective Association (SMPA). This organization has been operating continuously in Santa Monica since 1981. It is located in the 90402 zip code area. Since last summer, we have had several meetings with the SMPA Operations Manager to learn as much as possible that might apply to South Shores.
SMPA’s 2 square mile tract in Santa Monica consists of approximately 2,000 homes. There are approximately 1,100 SMPA members. In other words, more than 50% of the area’s homeowners are SMPA members. By contrast, South Shores consists of 1,309 homes.
The organization managing this area’s security patrol consists of:
- A five member volunteer staff called the Santa Monica Protective Association (SMPA).
- An SMPA Operations Manager.
- A volunteer organization of 20 Street Representatives.
THE SMPA OPERATIONS MANAGER
The Operations Manager is a salaried employee of SMPA. This manager serves as the communications link between over 1,000 homes and ADT Patrol, the provider of the service.
The Operations Manager collects dues twice a year and turns over the funds to an SMPA bookkeeper. The Operations Manager signs up new members and follows up on delinquent dues as the occasion warrants.
To enroll, residents sign a 3 party contract with SMPA and ADT. Members may sign up for either a 6 month period or 1 year. Dues are paid in advance of the service.
The Operations Manager produces a quarterly newsletter for SMPA members.
The Operations Manager is part of all communication with ADT, handling all complaints and comments directed to the provider.
The Operations Manager coordinates all communication and activities through 20 volunteer Street Representatives who provide ongoing feedback to the Operations Manager. Street Representatives, for example, alert the Operations Manager of new residents on their streets and facilitate enrollment of new members.
THE ROLE OF ADT AND BENEFITS OF SMPA MEMBERSHIP
The area is served by 2 ADT radio-dispatched security patrol vehicles 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. ADT Patrol Officers are on constant patrol throughout the neighborhood. The patrol vehicles are prominently marked “Santa Monica Protective Association”. Patrol Officers are employees of ADT. While Patrol Officers in the SMPA-ADT are armed, the question of whether South Shores Patrol Officers should be armed is currently under discussion.
SMPA-ADT Member Benefits
Immediate Patrol Response
When a member sees suspicious activity in the neighborhood, the member calls the ADT dispatch office. The dispatcher then calls the SMPA patrol officer who is never more than a few minutes away. At a bare minimum, they demonstrate their presence when it may be needed most.
The ADT Alarm Service and ADT Security Patrol Service are different entities within the same company and membership pricing in one does not affect pricing in the other. However, subscribers to the ADT Alarm Service enjoy the added benefit of alarm notification to the ADT Patrol Service in addition to the LAPD with the probable advantage of a quicker response by the ADT Patrol Service.
When leaving town, members can advise ADT Patrol of the dates of their absence and Patrol Officers will conduct a perimeter check of the residence 3 times each day to the member’s specifications. The officer will check for unsecured doors and windows, move mail, papers, flyers and packages to designated locations on the property. They will also bring in trash cans after collection. Some members will have the officer conduct extra drive-bys during their absence, even if it’s just for an evening out.
Follow-home robberies are a common tactic of criminals. Members can call ADT Patrol when they are coming home late at night and a Patrol Officer will meet them there upon their arrival.
When Patrol Officers spot suspicious activity on a member’s property, they investigate. If they spot a member’s garage open to the alley, they will alert the member.
Although an alarm system is absolutely not required for membership in SMPA, if a member has a house alarm monitored by ADT or any other company, the Patrol Officers will respond if you give your alarm company the ADT dispatch number. The officers are well trained and can replace the response of the police, if the member chooses. This can save the member hundreds of dollars in fees for false alarms.
The officers are trained to check the perimeter for signs of forced entry, verify authorization of anyone they find on the property, alert the members by phone in case of emergency and call the police when criminal activity is found.
The response time is usually much quicker than the police because the ADT Patrol Officers would cover only South Shores, a much smaller area than that covered by the LAPD.
COST OF MEMBERSHIP
As of December, 2016, bids have been obtained from all 3 providers. Salary negotiations with a prospective Operations Manager are still under way.
At this stage, it is impossible to know the actual cost of membership per household. That figure can be determined only when it is known how many households are actually willing to participate as paying subscribers.
The more households participating, the lower the cost per household.
However, it is possible to roughly project the cost per household assuming various levels of participation. These levels and costs were discussed at the focus group meeting on January 7. This pricing information was discussed further in a community-wide Town Hall type meeting on March 25, 2017.
In coming weeks, we will reach out to the community through the South Shores Community Association website and invite residents’ questions and comments regarding a patrol service. We will poll as many homes as possible to quantify South Shores’ degree of willingness to share in the expense of this effort. Once that number is finally established, we will know with certainty whether the concept of a security patrol service for the community of South Shores is viable and sustainable.