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Retention of the community's Security officers has fallen dramatically under the tenure of Chief Greg Remson, the Community Services District's Security Committee was told Tuesday.

The committee heard an analysis by neighbor Lisa Taylor, who is married to Security Sgt. Jim Bieg, the department's second in command. Taylor's study looked at the last 20 Security staffers, going back to the era of longtime Chief Jim Noller, who retired in 2004 and was succeeded by Remson.

Lisa Taylor

"I mean, there's just a lot of confusion in their job description," Lisa Taylor said of the Security officers.

"Almost every single one of these could be justified," Taylor said of the departures, "and there's a story around each one of them. But the point is if you look at the retention rates, you know, dropping from 64 percent to 33 percent is pretty dramatic."

Remson, who was present for the discussion. challenged Taylor on some points but didn't defend his job performance. Two board members questioned Taylor's assumptions.

In an interview after the meeting, Remson said, "It's very difficult to get people who are a good fit in this job. ... Until you get them out there on their own you really don't know how they're going to be. Some people just don't work out and we have to let them go. ... And we absolutely will not keep anybody that we think will be a long-term issue. ... It's not like we've got 50 or 100 (staffers), we've got five, and that makes it very difficult. ... There's a lot of mediation involved ... You have to be able to work within the parameters the board has given us."

Taylor said she talked to three of the officers who left.

"A lot of that was just sort of confusion about what's going on in terms of what they're required to do versus what they're told they can," she said. "I mean, there's just a lot of confusion in their job description."

Citing research she had done, which was covered in another letter she wrote to the CSD board, Taylor argued that Security officers here function as law enforcement and not as security guards.

"I looked at sort of the way they respond to calls sort of as security sort of as law enforcement, and if they were security guards what they would do," she said of the chart she created in her letter.

She argued that a state law in 2005 drew clear distinctions between the work of police and security officers, adding, "So it has to be a lot clearer what we're doing. ... From a wife's perspective, I see calls being entered in a law enforcement manner, yet we're hearing that they're security. That's my issue."

After the meeting, Remson said Taylor was referring to the law about enforcing local ordinances. "That's the section the attorneys are researching right now because there's some thought that that gives us peace officer authority," Remson said. "She's one of the ones that think that and other people do not."

Greg Remson

"Hopefully what we'll do is better define our role. And if that role is more enforcement, then so be it. If that role is less enforcement, then so be it," said Security Chief Greg Remson.

At the committee meeting, Director Bobbi Belton suggested that a single-subject meeting on Security coming up at the end of May might be a better forum for the conversation. She claimed some of Taylor's information was misleading and said the names of the officers involved shouldn't be included in Taylor's report out of concern for the former staffers' privacy.

Board President Wayne Kuntz also disagreed with Taylor, saying her percentages were skewed and some staffers had used the job as a career stepping stone.

Asked after the meeting where he thought the department ought to head in the future, Remson said:

"Hopefully what we'll do is better define our role. And if that role is more enforcement, then so be it. If that role is less enforcement, then so be it. But we'll hopefully eliminate any gray areas with input from the board and the community and what we legally can and can't do. Hopefully we can get a good group of officers that will be comfortable following those rules and regulations as they're handed down to us."


Lisa Taylor's picture
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 365
Post rating: 30

It's not just the ordinances

 

A few clarifications.


What I learned from reading my own quotes in the story above, is that I’m not the most eloquent speaker -- sometimes I speak none too well. Oh well.

My main point regarding the drop in retention is that it’s an indicator. Of what? Well, no one can say definitively. I absolutely support CSD letting people go when it’s determined that they will not work out, but I also know some of the other reasons that folks left. Let me clarify one thing: Remson “didn’t defend his job performance” because the discussion wasn’t about his job performance. At the meeting I clearly stated that this was not my implication. I did state my belief that the retention problems are an indicator that there is something wrong in security. This could be a problem with the chief, the general manager, the board itself, or one of those problems that was inherited and is currently no one’s fault, but just is. I think of it a bit as “security sludge” (for those of you that followed the water problems).

Here is what I contend:

The district has authorized their officers powers of arrest (District Code 7.06(d)(2) and 7.20). In the legal literature, depending on which municipal codes one reads, you will see the PC 836.5 arrest authority has been called either peace officer’s powers of arrest (for misdemeanors) or public officer’s powers of arrest. It is universally agreed by all parties in this conversation that our officers do *not* have peace officer authority. However, they have been given arrest authority in the district code. (Peace officer status and arrest authority are separate entities.)

The new law (SB 135, 2005) specifically tells community service districts that they can provide either security services or a police department.

If the district lawyer states that the district cannot operate under PC 836.5, then more than just the ability to cite for ordinances is affected. The way in which many calls are responded to is affected. Currently, Security often acts as our local (limited) law enforcement, and it’s difficult to imagine how that will change, thus the handout at the meeting (link to handout can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/6y92dh).

As just a couple of examples, IF CSD Security really are only security guards, then…

If you have a burglary in progress, a security guard has no authority to help you.

If there is a domestic violence call, a security guard has no authority to help you.

If Security sees any drug activity in the community, they have no authority to act.

If you require medical care from the fire department as a result of any possibly criminal activity (anything where charges might be filed, like a fight, etc.), the fire department medics will not be able to attend to you until SSD is on the scene.

I also contend that the only way that the community can decide what we want now, or in the future, is to fully understand what we have now, or don’t have.

Depending on what the lawyer tells the folks over at CSD, this really has the potential to be a major event. If this is the case, it is my hope that all ratepayers will become involved, and learn about the issues. If the ratepayers don’t take an active role, then about 7 people will be making some big public safety decisions for all of us.

I honestly think that Chief Remson summarized the situation perfectly:

"Hopefully what we'll do is better define our role. And if that role is more enforcement, then so be it. If that role is less enforcement, then so be it. But we'll hopefully eliminate any gray areas with input from the board and the community and what we legally can and can't do. Hopefully we can get a good group of officers that will be comfortable following those rules and regulations as they're handed down to us."

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

Thank you Lisa, but unless...

Thank you Lisa, for tackling this matter.

Unfortunately, unless you can wake up the other 80% of the community (i.e., those that don't read RM.com or MurietaOnline.com) those people will still be blissfully ignorant to the problems the community is having and why the need for our Security to be more than just Security Guards!

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