In an effort to make two of Ceres' parks more secure, the Ceres City Council renewed a private security firm contract to make nightly patrols.
The city has been contracting with Ontel Security Services to patrol Smyrna and Ceres River Bluff Regional parks since 2007 after a string of violent episodes. Patrolling the parks is cheaper with hired help them sworn officers who work for a higher rate of pay. The city has been contracting with Ontel Security Services to patrol the parks three to four times per night for $2,509 per month, or $30,108 per year. Each random patrol includes drive through of the parking lots, check for any crime and inspecting structures in the parks. After the first patrol at each park, the entrance gates are locked by the patrol officer.
Ontel also provides security at the Ceres Community Center and the American Legion Memorial Building during private rentals. Persons who rent the facilities are required to pay the costs of the security service, which is $18.75 per hour for unarmed guards and $19.50 per hour for armed guards and the $28.12 per hour charge for overtime if necessary.
The security firm was hired in 2007 after a man was shot in the leg during an early morning robbery at Smyrna Park on Jan. 12, 2007. Also in January 2007, a teen was viciously beaten in front of his mother as they walked down the sidewalk alongside Smyrna Park.