Enough is enough. The crime in lower Rockridge north and west of the Rockridge BART station is completely out of hand. My neighbor two doors down was mugged walking home from BART at night. My neighbors next door were mugged midday. My neighbors across the street have had their home repeatedly broken into. While no single thing we do is likely to “solve” the crime problem, I feel we can no longer wait for the City of Oakland and the Oakland PD to make things better. So I am starting this CrowdTilt campaign to fund a security patrol that will add some security presence to our neighborhood and hopefully make a difference.
The area that will be patrolled is the area bordered by Woolsey Avenue to the north, College Avenue to the east, Highway 24 to the south, and Telegraph Avenue to the west, an area of approximately 1,200 homes. VMA Security Group, the same security firm as used by the Rockridge merchants association, will patrol 12 hours a day, 5 days a week (M-F), for a trial period beginning November 4, 2013, and continuing through February 28, 2014, with a uniformed guard in a highly visible “cop car.”
Our tilt amount of $8,205 is the amount that will guarantee patrol service through February 2014. VMA Security Group is offering this trial service through February 2014 if we can sign up at least 100 households at $20 per month for the four month period ($80 per household + 2.5% Crowdtilt fee = $82.05 per household, x 100 households = $8,205). Note that there be an additional 2.5% credit card fee for the transaction. If some households choose to fund more than $82.05, then we may be able to achieve our tilt amount with fewer households.
Our target amount of $20,513 is the amount that will position us for patrol service beyond February 2014. VMA Security Group will only continue the patrol beyond February 2014 if 250 households have entered into contract at $20 per month, renewable and paid at six-month intervals. If we sign up 250 households at $20 per month for the four month trial period ($82.05 per household x 250 households = $20,513), that will put us in position to have service continuing beyond February 2014.
Why VMA Security Group? VMA Security Group is the security firm that the Rockridge merchants association (Chris Jackson) has contracted with for holiday patrolling in the Rockridge commercial district along College Avenue. Their current client list also includes the merchants associations for Elmwood and Temescal, as well as the Oakland Museum of California, the Fox Theater, Children’s Fairyland, and Oakland Ice Center, and many other Oakland busineses. Additionally, they are actively patrolling around 300 houses in the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood and surrounding areas near the Oakland Zoo.
What’s this about contracts? If we hit the tilt amount, that will allow the funds for VMA Security Group to patrol the streets in our neighborhood. That does not give them the right to investigate suspicious activity on someone’s private property. For them to be able to do that, each contributing household has to give them that permission by entering into contract with them. All households contributing to this campaign and living within the specified area will be sent a contract for service that should be filled out and sent to VMA Security Group. There is no additional cost for entering into contract: the contributions to this campaign will be considered payment in full for all services through February 2014. VMA Security Group will then be able to provide included services such as daily activities reports, alarm response, and vacation watch. All households in contract with VMA Security Group will be given the direct number for the patrol officer on duty, which they can call to report suspicious activity or to request safety escort. Contracts can be canceled anytime and after February 2014, any unused amounts already paid will be refunded less a cancellation fee. Note that contracts entered into and paid through February 2014 via this CrowdTilt campaign can be canceled but no refunds will be given.
What if I live outside the specified area? Households who reside outside of the area bordered by Woolsey/College/Highway 24/Telegraph are welcome to contribute; however, they will NOT be eligible to enter into contract with VMA Security Group as part of this patrol effort. Households outside of the specified area who are interested in patrol services should organize and set up their own crowd-funding campaign. Note that if you are in the area bordered, by Highway 24 to the north, Broadway to the east, 51st Street to the south and Telegraph Avenue to the west, there is now a separate effort to fund a security patrol there: https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/security-patrol-for-lower-rockridge-southwest. And if you are in the area east of College Avenue and north of Highway 24, please take a look at a third effort here: https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/security-patrol-3-for-lower-rockridge-including-the-hills-above-roanoke-street. Otherwise, feel free to contact me for details.
How can we get additional hours or days? If we can get more than 250 households signed up, we can discuss with VMA Security Group how to apply the extra funds to additional days or hours.
Can I pledge more than $82.05? Yes, you are certainly welcome to bring us closer to a security patrol if it is within your means. Now that we have tilted and will have a patrol through February 2014, let's focus on getting more of our neighbors to sign up, so that we can get to the 250 households needed for patrol service beyond February 2014.
More FAQs (added September 25, 2013):
Can you tell me more about the patrol officers? The patrol officers are carefully screened by VMA Security Group for professionalism. Most/all are career security professionals. After joining VMA Security Group they undergo three months training with regular trainings thereafter and are carefully observed before being allowed to go into the field. VMA Security Groups’s patrol officers are all certified to carry a firearm. However, I will request they be unarmed unless they feel they cannot accomplish their duties otherwise. VMA Security Group maintains contracts with a number of merchants associations and businesses as well as Oakland PD, so they are very careful to maintain a high standard of performance.
IMPORTANT UPDATE October 11, 2013: Please see the message from the organizers of all three crowd-funding campaigns at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HzHEVNNnvsw5bHpmPTPi5AvT1IC1aZfs5B_55pWvc4Y/edit. This message has been posted on various neighborhood lists, including NextDoor, RockridgeNeighborhoodWatchNetwork and LowerRockridgeParents.
Can you tell me more about how the security patrol would work? There will be a uniformed patrol officer in a "cop car", something like a black Crown Victoria security decals and spot lights. You can see pictures in the SF Chronicle article on private security at http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/More-in-Oakland-relying-on-private-security-4815336.php. They will do a vehicle patrol of the specified area with occasional foot patrols, making a point to talk with folks in the neighborhood to raise awareness of the patrol. If they come across a crime in progress, their goal will be to ensure the safety of all involved, so they will use their best judgment as to the best course of action in any given situation. If they feel it is safe to do so, they will make a citizen's arrest and wait for police to arrive. They will not pursue on foot or by car. Note that private security patrol will not do more than what any concerned citizen could do by themselves, patrolling the streets and making citizen's arrests if they see something going on.
What about liability? The households that contribute to the crowd-funding campaign are highly encouraged to enter into contract with VMA Security Group and be covered under VMA Security Group's liability insurance, which includes a hold harmless clause. I am not a lawyer, but my understanding of what this means is the following: 1) If there is an incident on public property involving VMA Security Group and a suspect, then that will be between VMA Security Group and the suspect; 2) If there is an incident on the private property of a household under contract, then the household will be covered by the hold harmless clause under VMA Security Group's liability insurance; 3) the officers will not venture onto private properties not under contract, so there should be possibility of an incident there.
What happens after I contribute? VMA Security Group will work up a contract for our neighborhood, and I will send a link to that contract to all of those who contributed (roughly the 3rd week of October 2013). Those who live in the specified area and send a filled-out contract to VMA Security Group will then be under contract with VMA Security Group, paid up through February 2014, and will receive six month renewal notices for services thereafter, assuming that we can get to the 250 households to maintain service beyond 2014.
More FAQs (Added October 5, 2013):Are renters eligible to enter into contract? Yes, renters can enter into contract with VMA Security Group and receive the services provided by the contract, including the direct number for the patrol officer on duty for reporting suspicious activity or to request safety escort. However, VMA Security Group will not be able to enter onto the property unless the landlord separately enters into contract.
Are businesses eligible to enter into contract? No, the service provided by VMA Security Group under this contract is for residential service only.
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