The role for Marina Security Services is greatly expanded

January 5, 2021

By David Rowe, Associate Editor

In a year-end crunch to implement its new security plan, the Peralta Community College District discovered that two of the three new vendors could not be fully vetted in time to take over responsibilities from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) on January 1. 

As a result, increased responsibilities have been awarded to Marina Security Services (MSS), the one vendor that successfully met all the criteria, according to Mark Johnson, executive director of the Peralta Department of Marketing, Communications & Public Relations.  In a phone call with The Citizen, Johnson emphasized this is an interim arrangement while vetting is completed for the other two security vendors: Community Ready Corps (CRC) and Zulu Community Protection (ZCP). 

The original safety plan called for CRC to provide security services for Laney College. ZCP was assigned to the Merritt and College of Alameda campuses. The role for MSS was limited to dispatching and protection of the district offices. Berkeley City College has an existing contract with A1 Protective Services.   

Under the interim arrangement, MSS will provide security services for Laney, Merritt , and College of Alameda in addition to its original district and dispatch assignment. Johnson did not indicate how long this arrangement will remain in place or the additional compensation being provided to MSS for its expanded role. MSS’s original contract, approved by the Peralta Board of Trustees at its December 14 meeting, was for $1.6 million.   The total annual cost for the security plan approved by the board was $6.2 million compared to $3.8 million Peralta paid ACSO for its services. The board voted unanimously on June 23 to end their contact with ACSO.

As previously reported by The Citizen, neither CRC nor ZCP appear to hold private patrol operator (PPO) licenses based on a search of the California license database. According to the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS), a PPO license is required to do business as a security firm in California. Both MSS and A1 hold PPO licenses, according to the state database. 

In a December 14 email to The Citizen, Robert Dabney, the owner and CEO of ZCS, explained his company was in the process of “formalizing (a PPO license holder) as a subcontractor so that we are in alignment with Peralta’s needs.” Dabney has not responded to subsequent emails and phone calls from The Citizen

At the December 14 board meeting, Interim Chancellor Carla Walter informed the trustees that, in addition to confirming each of the security vendors had the necessary licenses, the district would make sure they were covered in such areas as workers’ compensation and insurance.   It is currently unclear when district officials uncovered shortcomings for CRC and ZCP and the new interim plan was developed.

The Citizen made a public records request in November to the district around the request for proposal process, submissions received and bids but district officials did not respond within the 10-day period.

A district-wide forum to discuss the new safety/security plan was scheduled for December 21 but was abruptly cancelled the day before it was to take place. At that time, Johnson said the event will be rescheduled for January, but a date has not yet been announced.