City and county officials in Missoula hired another security contractor to patrol the homeless shelter and adjacent areas the following year.
City officials also announced that they no longer have sufficient funding, staff and infrastructure to safely operate licensed campgrounds and will close on November 16.
On Wednesday, Emily Armstrong, the city’s Houseless Initiative program manager, told the city council’s Housing Committee that her office had secured a security vendor to serve across operations shelter sites, including emergency winter shelters, earlier this year. announced a request for proposals.
City staff contacted five vendors and received responses with four proposals. A review board of city and county staff reviewed the proposals and selected Black Knight Security and Investigations, a company already contracted by Missoula Parks and Recreation and the Missoula Parking Commission. The company also provides security for City Hall and the Missoula County Courthouse.
People are also reading…
The city and county will split the $500,000 cost of next fiscal year’s security contract, which will come from funds allocated to both governments by the federal Americans Relief Plan Act.
Armstrong said Black Knight proposed a different model than the current security services provider Rogers International.
Black Knight offers a more “roving” security service. This means that his members of staff will not be present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in locations such as the residential neighborhoods around the Poverero Center or the Emergency Winter Shelter on Johnson Street.
“This type of presence is intentionally less than last year’s more intensive model of expatriate staff,” explained Armstrong. “We are reducing the intensity of the security service that is felt all the time.”
Rogers International operates on a 24/7 security guard model. Black Knight, by contrast, indicates that it has security personnel readily available to service calls, but does not always have staff on site. They also patrol municipal parks.
Subsequent debates among city council members showed widespread disagreement and disagreement over the type of security needed around homeless shelters in Missoula.
6th District Councilor Kristen Jordan said she was concerned about armed guards patrolling vulnerable people, while 5th District Councilwoman Stacey Anderson said she said Voters who live near homeless shelters said the security provided by Rogers International made them feel safer.
“The feedback we received last year was that the level of service provided at the winter shelter appeared to be good, in terms of the lack of permanent staff at the site,” Anderson said. “When I spoke with neighbors around the Poverero Center, they really appreciated the security and said they felt the neighborhood was safer.”
Anderson said he wants to make sure Black Knight offers the same level of security.
However, Jordan’s comments focused on her concerns about hiring a private security firm to replace additional city police. But she said she had seen research showing that private security firms were not accountable and were a threat to civil liberties.
“There is a real problem with private security companies monitoring vulnerable people,” Jordan said.
Armstrong noted that the views expressed by the two council members were at odds with each other, with some community members wanting more security and others not. I pointed out that you want no security.
“We are tasked with finding that middle ground,” explained Armstrong.
Armstrong was also sued by the State of Montana for Black Knight security and security, accusing 3rd Ward Council member Daniel Carlino of hiring an armed guard who didn’t have the proper firearms license to carry a gun. He said he was concerned about the fact that the investigation was placed on probation.
“We have been aware of the concerns raised by[Mr Carlino]for some time and have been in communication with Black Knight,” Armstrong said. “We are very confident in their ability to provide the services we need.”
Carlino spoke after Armstrong’s presentation.
“Are you concerned that you’re hiring a company that’s on probation from the state to hire people who weren’t previously licensed to carry guns to roam the streets with guns?” Carlino asked.
A Black Knight representative addressed the council and said it had cleared the process to make it possible. He said he would be surprised if he hadn’t overlooked an employee who didn’t have one.
“With the staffing and the fact that it takes six to eight weeks for someone to get a license, it’s easy to overlook, especially if you have someone with a military background or coming in with a license from another state. ‘ said Hill. “Yes, we’re on probation for letting someone work without a license, but I can guarantee it won’t happen again.”
Some residents of the licensed campgrounds have spoken out and said they hoped the sites would remain open during the winter. is.
Carlino asked if ARPA funds could be used to keep certified camp sites open.
But Armstrong and city chief executive Dale Bickel said the challenge of keeping the site open in the winter was insurmountable, especially given the lack of running water. He said outreach workers have been contacting people living there to let them know the site will be closed, and the goal is to move them to emergency winter shelters that open on October 31. I was.
“We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Gwen Jones, a member of the Third Ward Council, and said that homeless shelters could be built next year when federal funding runs out in case of a crisis. You mentioned that you are trying to secure the funds to operate the The service tax was not passed in November this year.
Carlino said he hopes the city council will revise the budget to keep the campgrounds licensed.
Jordan has hinted that the city is “rushing” the process of closing licensed campgrounds and not listening to the people who live there.
4th Ward Council member Mike Nugent disputed the accusations.
“I also think that as a community, we struggle with how we’re going to fund this, how much we’re going to fund it,” he said. ”
But he said anyone who framed the conversation and weighed all the options as if city officials weren’t working hard would do them a disservice.
The council had not actually voted on whether to keep the official campgrounds open on Wednesday. Members voted on three issues: $700,000 in federal ARPA funds to fund an emergency winter shelter next year, and $500,000 in federal ARPA funds to sign a contract with Black Knight Security next year. and to fund a one-month extension of security provided by Rogers International at a certified campsite of $130,000 in federal ARPA funds.
All three motions passed, but the motion to fund the deal with Black Knight was referred to the committee for further discussion.