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Security service lapses at Las Vegas Valley public housing complexes

Updated March 1, 2019 - 9:00 pm

Fourteen public housing developments in the Las Vegas Valley have gone without security service for the past three months.

Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority commissioners expect to procure a new security firm next month, the third hired in as many years. The housing projects serve senior citizens and low-income families.

A vote to approve the contract was delayed Thursday because Crimeless Security Inc., the firm selected to take over, did not have an official present at the commission meeting.

The lapse in service has concerned residents at James Down Towers, a multistory complex for seniors on Alta Drive near Decatur Boulevard.

“A lot of them are in wheelchairs. A lot of them use walkers,” said resident Byron Jackson, 63. “How could they possibly protect themselves from an intruder?”

Jackson said he frequently spots drug dealers, prostitutes and homeless people entering the complex at night through a propped-open back door. In December, vandals broke into cars and slashed tires in the complex’s parking lot, according to Jackson and other residents.

Las Vegas police dispatch logs show officers have been called to James Down Towers at least 29 times since the commission cut ties with its last security firm on Dec. 6.

A five-year, $2 million contract with Triton Security was terminated after less than a year, housing authority Executive Director Chad Williams said.

“We had some, I would say … inappropriate activities from some of their security guards, and I’ll just leave it at that,” Williams said.

Guards were not completing security reports and not submitting data on all their activities, he added.

The company also overbilled the housing authority for services, but the authority’s finance department caught the discrepancies, Williams said.

Triton Security President Shane Rowley did not respond to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s requests for comment Friday.

The firm received about $354,000 for the 11 months its contract lasted, according to the housing authority.

New firm selected

The housing authority board plans to approve a contract with Crimeless Security Inc. next month, Chairman Scott Black said.

The meeting date has not been announced, but documents show the proposed contract is for $2 million over five years.

The number of armed and unarmed security guards patrolling public housing will be increased, Crimeless Security Inc. President and CEO Leroy Murray Jr. said.

The firm, which opened in 2002, has guards working at Nellis Air Force Base and the Nevada Supreme Court building in Las Vegas, Murray said. He and other executives at Crimeless Security provided security for the housing authority about a decade ago while working at another company.

“We know exactly what each and every one of those properties needs for security,” he said.

Armed officers will wear a bulletproof vest and carry a handgun, pepper spray, baton and handcuffs. The company requires armed guards to take weapons training twice a year, Murray said.

“They’re not going to be walking around with equipment they don’t know how to use,” he said.

Black said hiring a new firm has taken months because the housing authority had to bid the contract and then evaluate which firm was best prepared for the job.

“There’s a trade-off,” he said. “You hire somebody immediately so we don’t have a gap of security and you might be back in the same position where they’re inadequate, so we erred on the side of caution.”

What days and times the new guards will patrol public housing is still being finalized. However, housing authority procurement manager Johnny Shaw said he expects Crimeless Security’s schedule will be similar to Triton Security’s.

Under the old contract, none of the authority’s public housing developments received security every night, and five had no security detail at all.

That worries Jackson, who said James Down Towers only had overnight security on Fridays through Sundays.

“Why would you only have security on the weekends?” he said. “Crime don’t stop. Whatever people are doing it doesn’t stop because it’s the weekdays.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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