Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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Marina security guards lack basic communication equipment

Many unarmed guards must use their personal cell phones to communicate with supervisors

The unarmed security guards at the Peralta campuses interviewed by The Citizen lack basic two-way communication devices and must rely on their personal cell phones to report incidents.

Interviews with security guards working for Marina Security Services at the Laney and College of Alameda campuses revealed that only the supervisors are issued walkie talkie devices that enable them to contact the dispatch center. The regular security guards we spoke with must either use their personal cell phones or physically locate the supervisor to report any incidents.  This is problematic, particularly at the Merritt campus which is known for its spotty cell phone reception.  A Citizen reporter visiting the campus recently had no signal on his Verizon cell phone. 

The Citizen also learned at least one Marina security guard at Laney was not provided with a chair or protection from the elements. The guard had to pull their car onto campus so they could find shelter from the rain without leaving their post. 

We are not revealing the names of the security guards who spoke with The Citizen to avoid possible reprisals from their employer. 

Since August 11, Marina has been the sole security vendor providing protective services for the Peralta college campuses and district offices. Those responsibilities had previously been split between Marina and A1 Protective Services until the district decided to consolidate with a single vendor. Marina’s initial contract with the district, dated November 17, 2020, was for $1.5 million.  That just covered dispatching services. Subsequent revisions of the contract reflecting Marina’s expanded responsibilities have not been released by the district. PCCD issued a $257,378 check to Marina on August 12, 2021, according to a warrant report approved by the Board of Trustees at its September 28 meeting. 

A pair of Motorola walkie talkies can be purchased for as little as $79 on, although communication equipment for security professionals would presumably be more expensive. The Peralta contracts with Marina and the other security vendors require them to “walk the assigned campuses with two-way communication devices.”

This comes as the number of crimes on or near the Peralta campuses is increasing. In an email to the Laney community on September 24, Rudy Besikof, President of Laney College, reported “an individual on the Laney campus had belongings snatched from their person” on September 22.. Two days later, on September 24, “two individuals were victims of a robbery/assault…across the street from the Laney campus,” according to Besikof’s email.  More generally, the city of Oakland has experienced dramatic increases in homicide, shootings, and robberies in 2021, according to police statistics reported by KRON-TV on September 2. 

The Citizen reached out to Paul Llanez, the CEO of Knowledge Saves Lives, a consulting firm retained by the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) to advise on its security procedures. Llanez is also serving as the acting Director of Safety for the district until someone is hired to fill that position, which has been vacant for over a year. 

In an email to The Citizen, Llanez said the district is “working with project managers in regards to software upgrades for communication platforms” but declined to provide further details on “who has radios or what platforms security staff use” since he considers this to be “tactical information and not something I recommend the district share with the general public.”  Llanez cited California government code section 6254 which exempts public agencies from disclosure requirements “if the public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

The Citizen also contacted Sam Tadesse, the CEO of Marina Security Services. In his email response, Tadesse offered assurances that “communication is very important to us.”  He went on to say his company is “continually looking to improve the ways we communicate between Marina and the District and colleges and, within Marina, between the dispatch team, supervisors, and our security staff.”  Tadesse declined to provide specifics “regarding tactics and equipment” citing the same California code section referenced by Llanez.

The careers page of the Marina website shows openings for security guards, campus door monitors, and campus shift supervisors in Oakland. These positions start at $18 per hour and require a California Guard Card and that applicants pass a criminal background check and drug test. One of the listed responsibilities is the creation of daily reports using Track Tix (sic) software on a mobile device. The Citizen asked Tadesse how many Peralta students have been hired to work for his firm but he did not respond. 

About the Contributors
David Rowe
David Rowe, Associate Editor
After a 40 year career in advertising, David is considering journalism as his “second act” and preparing himself for that new profession by taking classes at Laney. During his days in advertising, Rowe headed up the media departments for a number of leading ad agencies in San Francisco and Salt Lake City. In this capacity, he was responsible for the planning and placement of tens of millions of dollars of paid media. A high point of his career was placing Intel’s first Super Bowl TV ad in 1997. Rowe has a lifelong interest in journalism dating back to high school in San Jose where he started an underground newspaper called, appropriately enough, The Del Mar Free Press. The school administration threatened to suspend him, so Rowe, with the help of his attorney father, sued the school district in Federal Court and won and injunction. Ultimately, the case was decided in his favor and California state law regarding the rights of high school students was re-written as a result. Rowe is a political junkie who enjoys watching all the Sunday morning news programs and is actively involved in the Joe Biden presidential campaign this year.
Luke Wrin Piper
Luke Wrin Piper, Consulting Editor
Luke Wrin Piper began writing for The Citizen in 2019. Starting at the sports desk, his focus has expanded into politics, art, activism, crime and all the ways they intersect here in the 510. The people and culture of the East Bay have never failed to fascinate him and he hopes to bottle that local lightning for The Citizen. He thinks there’s never been a better time to be alive, especially for journalists.
Leticia Luna
Leticia Luna, Editor in Chief
Leticia is a Brazilian living in the Bay Area. Her interests range from environment to education, and living abroad since 2013 has given her the opportunity to explore and learn about many cultures — so her interest in cultural diversity has only grown. In Brazil, she has taught English and studied education, now she is pursuing an English degree and hopes to continue learning and exploring the world. Her belief in communicating the truth has led her to this journalism class. Leti is also a National Parks enthusiast and loves to use her camera to photograph landscapes and wildlife. On her off time, you can find Leti on hiking trails around the Bay Area or on long road trips with her friends.
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  • W

    williamOct 31, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Shout out to Leti & Luke as well! Well done.

  • W

    WilliamOct 31, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    Dave continues to be an invaluable asset to #TheCitizen, #PCCD and the public at large. A rise in crime should come as no surprise. The equipment issues is unconscionable. Par for the course. Would have liked to have seen the cost of “professional equipment” instead of “presumably more expensive.” When Dave’s got a bone, he works the hell out of it. An authentic muckracker. Peralta’s ace in the hole. #PublicServant. Nice work, Dave.