by Travis Mateer
Yesterday I was rollerblading downtown when the heat and my rusty blading skills compelled me to take a break, so that’s what I did, near The Oxford, where Harley was sitting in the shade with his Native friend, who I’ll just refer to as “D”.
After shooting the shit for a bit, and noticing the Native woman speaking with police in their parked vehicle, I got a story from “D” that I found to be VERY intriguing because it undermines the entire premise of utilizing private security at places like the Missoula County Courthouse, which is this: deescalate issues before REAL cops, who come with a bigger price tag, have to get involved.
The story “D” told me involves a man by the name of Webb who is NOT homeless. Does he hang out with people who may be homeless? Yes. Are those people often congregating near the Courthouse? Yes. Should private security have made the decision to engage Webb as he produced his Cannabis amongst his peers? That’s the question I hoped my call to Phoenix Protective Corporation could answer.
Regardless of the reason the Phoenix security guy chose to engage Webb, the outcome was that it didn’t go well, requiring those REAL cops I mentioned to get involved, and what they did, according to “D”, was put this security guy in his place by telling him Webb WAS NOT homeless, and that his actions WERE NOT illegal.
Since this incident, the security guy hasn’t been seen doing the job of keeping the street rabble in line, according to “D”. Go figure.
I joked around with “D” that the cops behind us were doing a fantastic job of deescalating the drunk Native woman. They actually agreed, and said they tried cutting her off earlier, but the woman could clearly take both of them.
Once the cops left a man came up on a bicycle, talked the woman up, then walked off with her, probably to engage in a business transaction more honest than Tax Increment Financing.
When “D” made his ask, I expected it to be a request for discretionary funding, but instead it was for a burrito, to which I said sure and happily scooted off on my blades and to obtain lunch. Then, when I got back to my studio, I did some online corresponding, like sending off this email:
After sending this email I got a call back from Phoenix, and it was a surprisingly pleasant conversation, probably because I didn’t expect anything specific from a risk assessment guy. So what DID I get from this call? A confirmation that my general assessment of the role of private security is correct. So that’s nice.
What’s NOT nice is private security acting in a manner that creates MORE work for law enforcement. Or maybe you’re comfortable with public money paying private security to do the important work of following Howard around town until he freaks out.
The above video clip is Howard discussing Rogers International, specifically. RI is the bottom of the barrel, in my not so humble opinion. Then there’s Phoenix, who we are discussing today. And another security firm on my radar is Black Knight, Montana’s premier private security and investigation company.
While it’s easy to get stirred up, in a very manly way, by trucks, guns and mountains, the Black Knight dude I spoke with a few weeks ago told me the quality of hires has been going downhill for awhile. I’m not sure how much marketing can fix institutional decay, which is literally everywhere.
Fun times in Zoom Town! Thanks for reading!