City Council Authorizes Additional $1 Million for Private Security in Beverly Hills

In a brief Regular Meeting on Feb. 3, the Beverly Hills City Council passed a series of motions that included the extension of contracts with two private armed security companies for the next eight weeks. The price tag for the extension comes out to nearly $1 million. The Council also heard updates on Kindness Week, which will begin on Feb. 14.

“The City of Beverly Hills has experienced unprecedented protest activity since May 2020 and continues to experience protests for a variety of reasons throughout the Business Triangle and in Beverly Gardens Park,” a staff report compiled for the meeting reads. “While the City is not anticipating extensive civil protests in Beverly Hills, staff believes it would be beneficial for the City to remain alert and able to respond quickly to civil protests.”

The city first contracted with two private armed security companies, Covered 6 and Nastec International, Inc., in anticipation of unrest around the Nov. 3 general election. While Beverly Hills remained mostly undisturbed during the election and protracted vote tally, the weekly Freedom Rally has continued to marshal on Santa Monica Boulevard each Saturday with occasional appearances from counter-protesters.

The initial contracts with Covered 6 and Nastec ran the city about $1.4 million. Soon, residents began taking note of the myriad SUVs with flashing white lights patrolling the city and idling in alleyways. As the protests continued, the Council extended the contracts on Dec. 22 through Jan. 31. The extension came at no cost in the case of Nastec, but cost $365,000 for Covered 6. The city issued a second amendment to the contracts at the end of January to give the city time to consider another extension, which the Council agreed on in the Feb. 3 Regular Meeting. The total cost for the third contracts amendments is more than $880,000, bringing the total sum of private security expenses since election week to over $2.6 million.

Protests in the city have declined over recent months, with the Freedom rally shrinking from its pre-election peak of 4,500 to roughly 15 on Jan. 31. Nonetheless, the country remains in a state of alert following the incursion at the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6. Many Freedom Rally attendees took part in the events of the day, with three Beverly Hills residents facing federal charges and more arrests likely in the coming weeks. As the staff report notes, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security issued an unprecedented bulletin about threats from domestic extremists on Jan. 27. No other bulletin on record has warned about domestic threats.

“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin reads.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) specified that the bulletin does not refer to a specific danger, but to a heightened possibility of violence following the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

On a less menacing note, the Council heard updates from the Human Relations Commission on the upcoming Kindness Week, which will take place from Feb. 14 to Feb. 19. Taking into account the on-going pandemic and the limitations it places on events, this year’s Kindness Week will involve plenty of virtual activities. The marquee event takes place on Feb. 16 at 6 p.m., when author and television host Leon Logothetis will sit for a virtual talk and Q&A.

“For over a decade Mr. Logothetius has traveled the globe to over 100 countries to highlight the good and humanity as seen in the Netflix series, The Kindness Diaries,” said Human Relations Commission Chair Ori Blumenfeld.

The significance of the start date did not go unnoticed by the Commission. As an acknowledgement of both Valentine’s Day and Kindness Week, the Beverly Hills Active Adult Club will sponsor 200 roses for isolated seniors who participate in the city’s meal delivery program.

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