The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 14, 2013

Safety in numbers

Private security company supplementing police patrols downtown

ASHTABULA — Downtown visitors will see more uniformed officers patrolling Main Avenue, but the new faces will not be city police.

 A pilot program that places private security guards downtown launched three weeks ago, thanks to the Ashtabula Downtown Development Association (ADDA). The service is being provided by Premier Protective Services of Cleveland. The aim is to provide an increased police presence in the business district plagued by vagrants, vandalism, prostitution and burglaries, according to business and city leaders.

In a recent ADDA community survey about downtown revitalization, safety and security emerged as top concerns, said Lynda Annick, ADDA president.

“This is another example of how the ADDA is working to revitalize Downtown Ashtabula, and to make it a safe and inviting place,” she said. “This extra security is meant to be a proactive way of supplementing the security provided by the City of Ashtabula Police Department.”

Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said he has no problem with the ADDA hiring Premier to patrol its businesses, as long as the security company “doesn’t over step its bounds.”

The four-month pilot program is being funded by several downtown businesses.

At this time, Signature Health is the primary contributor, Annick said, noting 10 other downtown businesses are contributing toward the cost of the program, as well.

“If they see anything suspicious, (the security guards) call the police, although they are armed and they have the power to detain,” she said. “Downtown visitors will see that they work varied hours, five days a week.”

The program will be evaluated at the end of the trial period to gauge its success and to determine if it should continue, she said.

Any other businessowner or citizen who wishes to contribute to this program may do so by contacting Roberta Madar-Pruett at 440- 998-3706.

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