Escondido resident suggests private security to combat homeless issue

Posted at 10:19 AM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 13:19:47-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - A local mom thinks private security may be the answer to dealing with the homeless problem in Escondido.

Patti Thompson said the city has failed to come up with an effective way to reduce the homeless population. She's been part of many community wide clean ups, but once a camp is cleared she said the homeless quickly return.

On Wednesday evening, she brought two private security officers to the Escondido City Council meeting so they could make a presentation about their services.

Thompson believes the security guards would be able to help police deal with what appears to be a surge in homelessness, especially in areas like Grape Day Park.

"This is the hub right here. We have, at any one time, anywhere from five homeless people sleeping on the grass to 20 or more," said Thompson.

Grape Day Park is the city's oldest park, but Thompson said she rarely goes there anymore.

"I have not brought my kids here except for during events," Thompson said of the park.

Christopher Wyatt of Wyatt & Associates Protection Division told the council his guards would help deal with minor issues before they become major problems for police.

"The police can't be everywhere all at once. So, a lot of times, you'll have situations in the park where you can't possibly put a police officer here all the time and so there could be situations that could be dealt with better by on site security," said Wyatt.

Wyatt said private security doesn't have to be cost prohibitive. His guards are all former or current law enforcement officers.

"It's going to cost the city a heck of a lot more to put a police officer out there or have a police officer stop through every once in a while, where if you put one of us out there, you're looking at maybe a third the cost per hour," said Wyatt.

Mayor Sam Abed told Wyatt that the city manager is responsible for hiring. The city manager pointed out that park rangers already patrol the park.

Thompson hopes to get the issue on the agenda for future consideration.

"The whole purpose today was to come up with a solution and to bring a solution because I don't see them coming up with solutions," said Thompson.