OAKLAND -- The Montclair Village Association is launching a pilot program to augment security in the village in cooperation with Bay Alarm Security Co.
"The reality is that the Oakland Police Department is understaffed and aren't able to respond to all the calls," said Daniel Swafford, director of the Montclair Village Association. "We need to be proactive, so we aren't addressing issues after the fact."
The program was unveiled last week at a breakfast meeting held the Red Door, a catering service and new arrival in the village.
Bay Alarm security agents will be patrolling the area by car and on foot, providing security for the more than 220 businesses in the village. Merchants will be able to call an agent to respond to non-emergency situations.
Bay Alarm agents will usually respond in less than 15 minutes. While agents are not able to make arrests, there presence may deter or keep a situation from escalating. Agents will call the Oakland Police Department if they feel that the situation warrants.
"We are another set of eyes," said Bay Alarm's sales manager, Limor Margalit. "This service is unique for the village. We are not doing this anywhere else."
Agents will respond to any suspicious activity and unwanted behavior, and will even escort merchants to their cars at night. These services will be available to all merchants regardless if they have a burglar alarm with the company.
However, Bay Alarm is offering a full array of services at discounted prices for village merchants, from alarm monitoring to video monitoring.
"We are catching more bad guys with this system (video monitoring) than any other system," Margalit said.
Cameras will be tied into the central command center allowing Bay Alarm to confirm that someone is on the premises of the site in question. The use of these cameras virtually eliminates false alarms and ensures a faster response time when necessary.
The association has moved forward with the project as a result of the merchants and customers becoming increasingly frustrated by the mounting number of criminal offenses, from vandalism to muggings, occurring in the village.
"Crime is unpredictable. We needed comprehensive coverage on a budget," Swafford said. "The association wanted a new solution. You want someone to come when you need them."
"We can offer these services to the commercial district because we are already offering similar services in many of the neighborhoods," Margalit said.
Jamila Watermann, an insurance agent for AAA of California, is thrilled with the program. There have been numerous breakins at the city-owned lot at the Village Square park.
"The Montclair Village Association has listened to our woes. This is good for the neighbors and is good support for the smaller businesses," Waterman said.
"We need to send the message that you can't do crime here. You will get caught," Swafford said.