City Council Rejects Proposal to Use "Private Guards" at Jail

City Council this week voted down 3-2 a proposal to hire the controversial G4S Security Solutions to operate the understaffed Culver City Jail for the next five years after it emerged that the private security has been plagued by scandals in the United States and overseas.

At its Monday night meeting, Councilmembers also discussed another in-house option which would increase staffing by 5 jailers at the cost of $470,000 per year. Since they couldn't come to an agreement on this proposal, the councilmembers instead "kicked the can down the road" and directed staff to work with contracted professionals to draft a report with data and other assessments related to jail services.

Voting against the $2-million service contract with G4S Security Solutions were Councilmembers Meaghan Sahli-Wells, Thomas Small and Daniel Lee. Mayor Goran Eriksson and Vice Mayor Alex Fisch, both supporters on the contract, maintained that the city needs to be "in compliance with jail regulations before someone hurt themselves" and any contract with G4S could be terminated for poor or improper performance.

During public hearing on the proposal, several residents expressed grave concerns about G4S and stated that any contract with that firm would be a "crazy scenario" while others rejected both staffing proposals, saying the city can afford to increase jailers using their current police funds.

According to its marketing brochures and contract bids, G4S Security Solutions sells itself as a private army of experienced guards who are able to protect people at a fraction of the cost of police.

But the USA Today reporting revealed a pattern of questionable hires at G4S, abuse, neglect and violence inflicted by G4S staff.

"G4S has sometimes given power, authority and weapons to individuals who represent the very threat they are meant to guard against," according to the daily newspaper. "Documents show the company's American subsidiaries have hired or retained at least 300 employees with questionable records, including criminal convictions, allegations of violence and prior law enforcement careers that ended in disgrace. Some went on to rape, assault, or shoot people – including while on duty."

After the meeting, Vice Mayor Fisch wrote on his twitter account "we just wrapped up a council meeting where I think each of us were partially right and partially wrong on an incredibly tough issue."

He continued that "I have been concerned for a long time that we are adequately looking after people we put in city jail. We need to be in compliance with Class 1 jail regulations immediately before someone hurt themselves."


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