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ilbegone
10-31-2009, 06:25 AM
Hemet ordinance aims to more clearly distinguish private security from police

October 28, 2009

By MICHAEL PERRAULT
The Press-Enterprise

HEMET - City Council members Tuesday evening unanimously approved an ordinance requiring private security companies to have uniforms, insignias, shields and badges that are "clearly distinguishable" from those worn by Hemet police officers.

The ordinance also prohibits private security guards from driving cars and motorcycles with markings that bear a striking resemblance to those driven by Hemet police.

Hemet residents have reported instances in which they mistook private patrol personnel for Hemet police officers because of the similarity of their uniforms and vehicles, said Hemet police Capt. Rob Webb.

"We have several private patrol companies in the city whose uniforms are very similar to the Hemet police uniforms," said Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana. "A couple of complaints against our officers turned out to be complaints against (private) security officers."

No one spoke out against the ordinance during the council meeting.

The ordinance requires companies to avoid look-alike uniforms and choose colors and designs for insignias, shields and badges that don't resemble those of local, state or federal law enforcement officials.

Vehicle insignias, decals and colors must be approved by Hemet's police chief and include the word "private" in at least four-inch capital letters.

"We believe that citizens need to be able to clearly distinguish who they are talking to -- a police officer or a private patrol person," Dana said.

When Robert Jaurijue set up his Centurion Security Private Patrol firm four months ago, he said he took steps to make sure the gray and black uniforms were strikingly different from blue uniforms worn by Hemet police officers.

"Our badges are round," Jaurijue said.

Councilman Jim Foreman said he thinks the ordinance is needed after recently finding himself in a situation in which he almost mistook a private security guard for a Los Angeles policeman.

Dana said security guards can carry firearms only if they have obtained a license through the California Department of Consumer Affs.