Private security guard added to patrol downtown Lakeland

Business group hires private security guard

Catherine Hawley reports LAKELAND, Fla. The Lakeland Downtown Development Authority added an armed private security guard to patrol downtown. Officials said the guard brings consistency and added security to the businesses and patrons of the growing area.

“We have more residents; we have more businesses, which means more customers, more events, more visitors,” said Julie Townsend, executive director of the LDDA. To stay on top of that growth, the LDDA wants to make sure people and businesses feel safe and secure.  So they have contracted a private security guard to patrol the area. “This is an extension of the LDDA services to do all the things that, frankly, that I would like to have done that are above and beyond what we could expect from the Lakeland Police Department,” Townsend said.

The guard is through Signal 88 Security, and his first day was Sunday. He’s out on foot getting to know the core district, and understand what the businesses needs are. The guard provides consistency, and the knowledge to deal with everything from overflowing trashcans to parking issues to disruptive behavior.

“He’s not here to be an additional police officer. It’s not policing,” said Townsend. “It’s just a presence to say, hey, you know, there’s somebody here that can see what you’re doing. And if you don’t think what you’re doing is appropriate for somebody to watch you do, then maybe you don’t engage in that behavior.”

At Linksters Tap Room longtime manager and bartender, Becca Beall, supports bringing on the security guard, saying he added another level of safety. “We do have issues from time to time with people that do like to come in and, you know, cause a little bit issues here and there with customers or with our employees,” she said. “So it’s just nice to know that I have someone walking around, you know, that extra protection, I guess.” The private hire costs about £8,000 a month.

The LDDA is a special taxing district, so the downtown property owners are footing the bill.

The agreement will be reviewed after a few months. 

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“If they don’t see the value in that investment after six months, then we can reevaluate and invest those dollars elsewhere,” said Townsend.




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