Private security firm hired to keep Oakland residents safe

July 27, 2013 5:26:26 PM PDT
After two recent murders, neighbors in an Oakland community are taking matters into their own hands to keep their streets safe. Fed-up residents have been mobilizing ever since a 66-year-old woman was shot and killed while driving her car in the middle of the day.

Oakland police say they have a strong lead in the shooting death of 8-year-old Alaysha Carridine, but they won't elaborate. It's shootings like the one that took her young life that's prompted the Maxwell Park residents to begin to plan to pay for extra security out of their own pockets

"We don't want a repeat of Trayvon Martin, who's all of our child," Nancy Purcille said.

Purcille lives in the Maxwell Park area of Oakland. She and about three dozen of her neighbors are attending a final question and answer meeting with a representative of First Alarm. The private security firm is being hired to patrol the Maxwell Park neighborhood. 150 residents of the area have signed up for the service.

Jeanie Moran says she thinks it'll help, "There have been two or three cars that have been, you know, stolen in the neighborhood and there have been killings in this park and down the corner, so that's of concern to me." When asked if she thinks it'll help, Moran answered, "I do."

The killings Moran is talking about are the shooting deaths of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine on July 17, who was killed as she opened her front door. That happened in the city's Dimond District. Then just last week, less than a mile away, 66-year-old Judy Salamon was shot to death in her car near the Maxwell Park area.

Residents say they have been working on finding extra security for more than a year. It's a move City Councilmember Libby Schaaf regrets that the neighbors have to seek help from outside the police force.

"I think it's unfortunate that neighbors have to dig into their own pockets to supplement their security," Schaaf said.

First Alarm's Chief Administrative Officer Teresa Larkin says the fee is $15 a month to have a house put on the First Alarm patrol list.

She says the officers will carry only defensive weapons like radios, cellphones, and even Tasers. And though 180 residents have to sign up for the service before patrols can start, Larkin says that could happen in the next week.

Councilmember Schaaf says the city plans to add 36 civilian employees to the police department, plus another 75 police officers in the next three years. She says she hopes that will make Oakland safer and communities won't have to pay for their own private security.


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