The Houston Board of Aldermen were approached by Terrance Ford, of Str8 (straight), seeking to provide the city with security at public gatherings and community events to free-up police to continue patrols of city neighborhoods and investigate crime.
“What I am bringing to you is the opportunity to hire Str8 and let us be security for ballgames, events in the park and on the Square and things like the Christmas parade and Homecoming,” said Ford. “We would be extra security that you hired on an as-need basis for a lot less than the cost of hiring an officer for a year.”
Hiring a police officer for Houston traditionally carries about a $30,000 salary and often the city pays to train new officers only to see them move on after a year or two.
Ford said his security team would work events on a contract basis for $1,500 a month. Ford said he currently has five employees and he and one other employee are licensed to carry a weapon.
He told the board the state does not require liability insurance from a security company, but he was seeking to get some form of coverage.
“We don’t jump in and put hands on anyone and I also don’t put anyone in my truck and carry them to jail.” said Ford. “We provide crowd control and monitor events and call police if the situation requires it.”
Place 2 Alderman Shenia Jones said she felt Ford’s business proposal would be a great idea for specific situations. Jones said she was concerned about a lack of insurance.
“When you deal with government, especially police stuff, you’ve got to have liability insurance,” said Jones. “We have talked repeatedly about a need for security for Civic Center events and this might work.”
Alderman-At-Large Barry Springer said he was concerned with anyone wearing a weapon and basically representing the city.
“Until we approve someone to provide security they don’t need to be walking around with a t-shirt and a pistol on their hip,” said Springer. “We have police to do that. People who carry a gun need to be certified, trained and then carefully screened by us before we turn them loose in town.”
“Having an individual hire you is a little different,” he added. “Maybe we could require anyone holding an event at night at the Civic Center, or wherever, to hire security for their event.”
City Attorney Elizabeth Ausbern said the city would probably still be sued if someone was hurt by a security guard at a city facility.
Jones made the motion to take the issue under advisement with Place 1 Alderman Tony Uhiren providing the second.