San Diego could place armed guards at key destinations

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Armed private security guards - and others with nonlethal ways to defend themselves - could soon patrol iconic San Diego locations like Balboa Park and the downtown Central Library.

The city of San Diego is officially seeking proposals from security firms that would authorize armed or enhanced safety personnel outside more than 50 places, including community parks, skate parks, and library branches. The guards could either carry guns or non-lethal weapons, such as mace or hand restraints, depending on the arrangement. 

The city currently has very few armed guards - mostly stationed around public bathrooms downtown. 

RELATED: City may seek armed guards at Central Library, other parks

A firm called Able Patrol and Guard patrols city parks and libraries, However, those guards are unarmed and essentially observe and report. The change comes after guards reported being threatened, spit on, and harassed, namely by a growing homeless population outside the Central Library. 

The city is now aiming to increase their ability to defend themselves. The details emerged under a new city request for proposals obtained by 10News. The document says guards are still required to defer to police unless the situation calls for self-defense.

“Reasonable force is to be used only if Guards are physically threatened or if they feel another person’s safety is in jeopardy,” the document says. “If necessary, Guards are to call the San Diego Police for assistance.”

RELATED: City of San Diego adds more armed guards to patrol downtown public restrooms

The document says guards who carry guns must have permanent licenses from the state of California and five years experience in the sector. They can also qualify with substitutes such as two years of military experience or two years as a police officer. 

"The City is releasing a comprehensive RFP that allows the City to potentially utilize a variety of security services should the need arise," city spokesman Tim Graham said in a statement. "The goal of the RFP is to provide the proper level of security for City facilities as determined by City departments."

Graham said a San Diego Police expert reviewed the document for technical soundness. He said the police chief would always be notified in the event of armed security dispatched. 

The city is seeking responses by Sept. 7. 

Mayor Kevin Faulconer was not available for an interview. The San Diego Police Department and The San Diego Police Officers Association declined to comment.

Click here for a list of proposed locations. 

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