Following Thursday night’s shock announcement that private security company Covered 6 has withdrawn from its contract to patrol the Downtown and Promenade districts, City officials and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) board members reacted with shock and bewilderment.
The announcement was made at the regular DTSM Board meeting, but many of the specifics still remain sparse. Earlier this year, the City Council unanimously voted to approve a proposal from the DTSM Board to replace its existing community ambassador program with Covered 6 to provide extra security and community services within the downtown area.
According to DTSM, the contract had in fact been signed. However, an email was sent to Santa Monica City officials at about 10:20 p.m. on Wednesday night asking if Covered 6 was the right kind of company to work in Santa Monica.
Within that email, claims were made that an individual named Bryce Eddy was or had been associated with Covered 6 in some way. The email did not say what role Eddy played in the company, but included links to a number of YouTube videos where he is named as affiliated with the company and pictures of him at their facility.
Andrew Thomas, DTSM CEO, sent an email on Thursday to the DTSM Board acknowledging Eddy’s email. Thomas said Covered 6 founder Chris Dunn had stated Eddy was not an employee of the company and there was no affiliation between the company and Eddy. However, given the information provided in the email, Thomas said he asked for additional reassurances from Dunn.
Thomas later announced at the board meeting that Covered 6 had exercised an option to withdraw from the contract. Needless to say, everyone at that meeting was blindsided.
The Daily Press reached out to every DTSM Board member, City Councilmember and the Santa Monica Police Department for comment, but at the time of going to press, only a handful had responded, with the majority preferring to only comment through Thomas. He himself released a statement on Friday afternoon that read in part, “The DTSM, Inc. Board will schedule a special meeting to determine the next steps as we endeavor to enhance public safety and supplement the services provided by the Santa Monica Police Department.”
Speaking to the Daily Press, Councilmember Phil Brock expressed his anger and frustration with the decision to allow the cancellation to proceed. “I talked to the founder of Covered 6 this morning, he says that person has never been an employee,” Brock said, adding “My understanding is that Covered 6 has a number of LGBTQ+ members in their protection teams and that I think this is a tragic remnant of canceled culture … Unfortunately, Covered 6 decided that sometimes the push isn’t worth the pull. They had invested thousands of dollars and my understanding is that they’re laying 15 people off today.”
However, this wasn’t a point of view shared by everyone. Talking to the Daily Press, Ericka Lesley, entrepreneur and DTSM board member said, “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of fallout. Santa Monica is not for the faint of heart. You have to be more progressive coming in here to our city. Any company that’s going to come to Santa Monica has to be in alignment with our views with the views of the city.
“Okay, so we don’t have enough police officers, it’s real simple. We need more officers. It’s not fair to think that you’re going to hire security and expect them to do the job of an officer. You can’t have a security company do the job of a police officer, period,” she said, adding, “But you also have to understand that our city is growing. And as our city grows, our police force is going to have to go along with it. That’s just the facts. We got big city problems [sic]. It’s a small city, but we have big city problems.”
In a statement, the City of Santa Monica said, “The city learned about Covered 6 terminating its contract with DTSM on Thursday, Sept. 28. While not involved in the details of this matter, the city will continue to work closely with DTSM in addressing matters of public safety in downtown.”
The private security company has worked on security projects all over the world and has its own training facility in Moorpark, just north of Thousand Oaks. It employs many ex-law enforcement officers and former members of the armed services. Moreover, it has also already operated in the city of Beverly Hills for some time.
Covered 6 was chosen to replace the current ambassador program following concerns about homelessness and crime in the downtown area.
“They’ve been operating in other cities for a while, so we weren’t the first ones to vet them,” Brock said. “They weren’t coming in as a military force to destroy the city. They would have complimented our police department, they would have complimented what residents want, a safe downtown … Covered 6 had invested so much time already in this city, but at the end they didn’t feel they had the support.”