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Security hired for parks
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In an effort to make two of Ceres' parks more secure, the City Council has hired a private security firm to make nightly patrols.

The move, which came at last week's council meeting, is an "interim measure" until the city can finish an analysis of a plan to secure the parks, said City Manager Brad Kilger.

The armed patrols have been ordered for Smyrna and Ceres River Bluff Regional parks. The city has contracted with Ontel Security Services to patrol the parks three times per night for $1,916 per year, or $22,992 per year.

Each random patrol will include 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 will be locked by the patrol officer.

If an Ontel officers makes an arrest, the city will pay $50 per appearance in court.

The idea of contracting out for patrols was born out of a council study session held in February after serious crime issues occurred in both parks.

The approach is one of other measures the city has taken this year. Kilger said that security lighting, gating and cameras have been added at the parks.

Ceres Riverbluff Regional Park has seen its share of wiring theft for buildings and parking lot lights in the past.

A man was shot in the leg during an early morning robbery at Smyrna Park on Jan. 12. Also in January, a teen was viciously beaten in front of his mother as they walked down the sidewalk alongside Smyrna Park.

Kilger said that either party can cancel the contract for any reason, even though it is for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008.