Armed security officers could soon be closing Manteca municipal park restrooms.
The City Council Tuesday is considering a request by Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Fant to switch from part-time workers to a contracted security firm. Restrooms and facilities typically are closed for the night between dusk and 11 p.m. based on reserved use.
It has become more difficult to keep part-time workers as they have been confronted and threatened by various individuals including some aggressive homeless individuals as well as the criminal element including gang members and drug users
Staff believes the use of a security firm that employs trained security officers will reduce safety risks as well as deter negative activity in parks.
It is not unusual for cities to hire security officers to assist with park safety or else establish a park ranger staff under the auspices of their police departments.
The security officers are uniformed in addition to being trained. They can also be armed if the city so desires.
Fant in a memo to the council indicated the parks department would like to eventually expand the use of the security company to conduct patrols throughout the city’s 60 plus parks. The goal would be to deter graffiti, vandalism, illegal use of the parks, and wire theft among other things.
The possibility of asking the council to expand security officers for such uses will be part of the review process for the next fiscal year budget starting July 1, 2016.
If the council approves going with a security firm, the $22,000 currently set aside for part-time workers would be used to cover the cost.
There are restrooms at Woodward, Northgate, Lincoln, and Morenzone parks that the city has part-time workers close. The restrooms at Library Park are currently kept locked except during special events. At other times people using Library Park have to ask the staff at the library for keys to use the facilities inside the library.