STOCKTON (CBS13) – Stockton businesses are maintaining their security, but not with more sworn police officers. Instead, businesses and neighborhoods are relying on private security guards.
These guards go to crime scenes and sometimes get there before officers. In the last couple of years, Delta Hawkeye Security has seen an 80-percent increase in business, and recently decided to arm themselves.
“A lot of people are carrying weapons in this city,” said security guard Darien Wilson. “So you really don’t know who you’re dealing with.”
At just 19-years-old, Wilson is the youngest member of Delta Hawkeye, the largest private security company in Stockton.
“Our pure presence has been enough to deter crime in certain areas of the city,” said Wilson.
Just 48 hours ago, Wilson narrowly escaped being hit by bullets as he responded to a burglary at a strip mall his company is hired to protect.
“I was here by myself,” said Wilson.
He says he feared for his life, but that won’t stop him from doing his job. In the last year he says he’s seen an increase in a need for security guards because their clients say they don’t get a quick response from 911 when reporting petty crimes like burglaries, panhandling and vandalism.
“We may not see a response for hours,” said business owner Matthew Grizzle.
Grizzle and other business owners hired Delta to patrol their area.
“It’s an investment that we have to do to make sure that our customers know when they come down here they’re not going to have any issues, they’re going to feel safe,” said Grizzle.
And, he says it’s working.
“People are more than likely going to think twice before they do any sort of criminal activity if we’re around; if they see us,” said Wilson.
Only 10 of the 75 security guards carry tazers and guns, but by the end of this year, they plan to have half of them armed.
Stockton police say their main priority is to target violent criminals and gang members, so they encourage home and business owners to hire security guards.