With looming increases in taxes, water and sewer bills, and business taxes, DeKalb County residents could use a break. And using volunteers to save some of the $790,000 allotted for guarding county buildings could be a start. But that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
In December, the county’s Board of Commissioners extended contracts on a month-to-month basis for two companies that provide unarmed security services for the county. County officials said more time was needed to award new contracts.
But commissioner Jeff Rader wants the county to look at using volunteers to help cover some of the government’s security needs, just as the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office does by using reserve or auxiliary officers.
“It seems unusual to me that we can have an office of county government—the sheriff’s office—that seems to operate an auxilliary pretty effectively and yet we can’t figure out a way to do it within another branch of county government,” Rader said during a meeting in December.
The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office uses volunteers to cover jobs similar to the ones for which other county departments use paid security guards. The sheriff’s office uses non-commissioned auxiliary officers to serve as detention officers with limited inmate contact. They may work in community service, tower control, mail delivery, support services, records retention filing, corridor control, visitation security and as medical department assistants.
Other volunteers partner with paid deputies as reserve deputy sheriffs after completing the appropriate training and obtaining state peace officer status. These volunteers work mainly in the field and court divisions.
“It really does augment the agency quite a bit,” said Maj. Leonard Rasheed, who runs the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Program. “It’s a significant saving.”
Rasheed said auxiliary personnel, who set their own schedules, are used to help eliminate overtime. Retired law enforcement personnel are ideal for reserve officer positions because they are already trained.
A new DeKalb Police Department reserve officer program is in the works, but it is too early to tell if it will be a viable option instead of paying guards, said William Miller, director of public safety for the county. The program would use only former DeKalb Police officers.
“We have to get it up and running,” Miller said. “We don’t even know how many people are going to sign up.”
Using volunteers would not be a first option, Miller said. Scheduling would be difficult at best, since the reserve officers won’t be paid.
“We haven’t considered them for replacing our contract officers,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, the county departments will continue using guards from two companies, ABM Security Services and ALL(n)1 Security Services Inc., both of Atlanta. These companies have contracts that pay a total of up to $790,000, although about $451,000 of the money was used in 2010.
ABM Security Services has a $600,000 contract to guard fleet maintenance, sanitation, library, tax commissioner and watershed management buildings.
ALL(n)1 Security Services was hired to assist DeKalb County Police officers in ensuring the safety and security of employees and visitors at 12 county buildings, including the Maloof Center, Clark Harrison and DeKalb Public Safety buildings. This contract ran from June-December 2010 before being renewed on a month-to-month basis.
The guards are used on an on-call basis whenever a department needs security services, said Ted Rhinehart, DeKalb’s deputy chief operating officer for infracture. If a department needs a security guard, it notifies the purchasing department, which makes the necessary arrangements.