A Private Security Switcharoo As Local Leaders Prepare For Their Crisis Levy To Fail

by Travis Mateer

Do a majority of Missoula’s elected leaders like the idea of gun control? Yes, I think it’s safe to say they do. They like gun control so much that many years ago an effort was made to restrict person-to-person gun sales within city limits, a move that triggered (pun intended) a state legislative response. For some context, here’s the I told you so post I wrote in April, 2021.

You might be wondering why I am talking about gun control when the topic at hand is private security and the crisis levy to fund homeless services. Well, maybe because the NEW private security firm replacing the OLD private security firm has had issues with a staff member being properly licensed to carry a gun.

Here’s Emily Armstrong doing damage control over Black Knight’s checkered past:

Armstrong also noted that Ward 3 Council Member Daniel Carlino was concerned about the fact that Black Knight Security and Investigations had been placed on probation by the state of Montana for employing an armed security guard who did not have the proper firearm license to carry a gun.

This legal ding Black Knight had to deal with in the past didn’t impact their successful bid for the homeless private security contract. I guess a lack of gun control is only a problem when regular citizens want to own one in our growing dystopia.

I’ve had a couple of conversations with Black Knight about this new role for private security and my impression was this contract wasn’t lucrative enough for work security staff would be doing, but it sounds like that work is being allowed to change “models”.

What does that mean? It means that instead of standing around waiting to call REAL cops if anything serious starts happening, these new security people are going to be hanging out in cars waiting to call REAL cops if anything serious starts happening.

Here is how the article describes the change in security models:

Armstrong said that Black Knight had proposed a different model than the current security services provider, Rogers International.

Black Knight will provide more of a “roving” security service, meaning staff members will not be stationed 24/7 at sites like the neighborhood around the Poverello Center or the residential streets around the Emergency Winter Shelter on Johnson Street.

“This type presence is an intentional decrease than the more intensive model of stationed staff person that we‘ve had over the last year,” Armstrong explained. “We’re decreasing the intensity of constantly felt security service.”

Rogers International operates with a 24/7, stationed-guard model. Black Knight, in contrast, has indicated they will have security personnel readily available to respond to calls for service, but will not have staff members at sites all the time. They will also be patrolling city-owned parks.

At the end of this quote the work Black Knight is already doing for city-owned parks is mentioned. I am VERY familiar with this work, since I called Parks and Rec recently to determine why the gates to the bridge to nowhere are strangely shut when they should be open, like the middle of a nice Saturday.

Now Black Knight will bring this work ethic to securing homeless sites around Missoula. Fantastic!

One site that won’t have to be privately secured with public money is the Authorized Camp Site. Why? Because our illuminated braintrust realized they done fucked up, so I guess it’s best to shut it down and shift enabling services over to the winter shelter.

Here is a quote from the same article about the closure of the ACS (emphasis mine):

Several residents of the Authorized Camping Site spoke and said that they hoped that the site could remain open through the winter. An outreach worker who often visits the site, where about 60 people live, also expressed the same opinion.

Carlino asked if ARPA funds could be used to keep the Authorized Camp Site open.

However, Armstrong and city chief administrative officer Dale Bickell said the challenges of keeping the site open in the winter are insurmountable, especially because it lacks running water. Armstrong noted that outreach workers have been in contact with people living there to give them a heads up that the site would be closing, and the goal is for them to be able to move to the Emergency Winter Shelter, which opens on Oct. 31.

“We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Ward 3 Council Member Gwen Jones, noting that the city is trying to make sure that funds are available to operate homeless shelters next year when federal funds dry up in case a crisis services levy fails to pass this November.

See what Gwen Jones is doing here? It’s almost like our City Council president is taking out her frustration that critics like me have been effective in exposing the homeless industrial complex schemes, but she can’t shut me down, so instead she will frame the failure as prudent preparation for what the voters might do next month.

Regardless of what happens with the $5 million dollar crisis levy, sites around Missoula WILL have private security paid for by public tax dollars. But don’t worry, Missoula, I’m sure we will never see outfits like this again:

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Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to A Private Security Switcharoo As Local Leaders Prepare For Their Crisis Levy To Fail

  1. TC says:

    It is hard to comprehend what the purpose of private security is. These companies can Cosplay as LEO but they are not! They lack the authority to use force, makes arrests, investigate, refer to prosecution, etc. They exist,seemingly, to collects hundreds to thousands of tax payer dollars to call 911. You know – the things regular citizens can do for free.
    I guess you could say that a uniformed presence might deter some crime (even if unable to intervene other than calling 911). Now with this “roving” model (to ostensively avoid undue discomfort) even possible deterrence is off the table.
    To the cynic, it would appear that City/County wants to give the appearance of action, and are willing to spend hugely for the sake of illusion, while knowing full well they are unable to actually provide solutions.
    Good luck this winter residents of Franklin to Fort!

  2. webdoodle says:

    I’d like to know what license Carlino and the Missoulian think someone needs to carry a firearm in Montana.

    FYI – As a private citizen, you don’t need one. Montana is a strict shall not infringe state, meaning you can open carry in 99.9% of the state without any kind of license. You can also conceal carry in 99.7% of the state without any kind of license, including municipalities. The only license that offers more, is a concealed weapons permit, which at this point only offers reciprocity with many other states (meaning you can conceal carry in those states as well), it also speeds up the background check process when purchasing firearms from an FFL.

    Now, there may be some insurance reason a security guard can’t carry, but I’m unable to find a link on the Missoulian site to the license they claim was needed.

  3. Concern Troll says:

    You should credit the photographer for that photo at the end of your blog post.

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