Roving security for a sprawling city

By Aaron Blevins, 2/21/2013

SSA Security helps detain three Hancock Park suspects


The call came in from an observant client, who witnessed a black Dodge Charger with four passengers driving suspiciously slow in the area of 3rd Street and Muirfield Road at approximately 1 p.m. on Feb. 8.

The client saw three of the four subjects exit the vehicle and proceed on foot, prompting him to call his security company, SSA Security Group Inc., which deployed two of its officers.

According to SSA, one security officer observed the vehicle pull up to the corner of 3rd Street and Rimpau Boulevard, where two of the three suspects on foot were carrying items from a nearby home. The officer drove his vehicle between the suspects and the vehicle, and the suspects fled.

SSA Security notified LAPD, which dispatched patrol officers, K-9 officers and a helicopter to the area. Eventually, three of the four were detained and arrested.

Jerry Shaw, SSA president, lamented the escape of one suspect, but said the incident was a perfect example of the kind of collaboration that can occur by residents, SSA and LAPD working together.

“Everybody did everything they were supposed to do correctly,” he said. “It all went beautiful.”

Shaw said SSA Security Group Inc. has been operating since 1991, when a committee of homeowners in the Riveria area of Pacific Palisades requested a patrol. The 74-year-old former LAPD Metropolitan Division sergeant had been operating Shaw, Segraves and Associates, an investigative agency, since 1985.

Shaw said he had been doing off-duty investigative work while still employed by the LAPD. He and his partner, Terry Segraves, opted to open the security company after providing security to a bank CEO and chairman and his family, who were victims in a $3 million extortion attempt.

Since 2008, the security company has expanded its patrols to several other areas, including Hancock Park and the Mid-Wilshire area. Shaw said the business now provides security to approximately 600 homes.

“With an exception, it’s a very safe area to live in,” he said. “The exception is right now there’s a burglary problem. It’s in the north end of Hancock Park. We’re trying to suppress and prevent those burglaries from occurring.”

Shaw agreed with officials that the state’s prison realignment mandate, which resulted in some of the state’s non-violent, non-sexual and non-serious offenders being granted supervised release to lessen the prison population, has affected the area.

“They’re running the streets, and the authorities have all indicated it’s a problem,” he said. “Everybody said there’s going to be a spike in crime, and there is.”

The retired LAPD sergeant said his business is charged with keeping its clients safe. Because of the company’s insurance, SSA can’t provide security to non-subscribers, though it does patrol its clients’ neighborhoods and works with the LAPD in keeping the community safe, he said.

“Once we go into an area, we never leave that area,” Shaw said, adding that the company also tries to empower its clients. “We’re trying to build up a community of residents that are aware of what’s going on around them.”

He said the business has 30 to 35 SSA officers and security specialists who are all either active off-duty or retired LAPD officers with state-certified training. SSA has a fleet of patrol cars, and its officers are armed with weapons that they’ve used or trained with while employed by the LAPD, Shaw said. He said SSA’s typical response time is between two and three minutes, with a maximum of five.

SSA has provided information and made apprehensions that have led to felony charges, and the officers often respond to calls such as burglaries, burglaries from motor vehicles, suspicious people and burglary alarms, Shaw said. He said each case is handled differently, but generally the officers try to do what they can before LAPD arrives.

“We don’t hide our eyes to anything,” Shaw said. “We patrol with the idea of crime suppression and crime prevention. We don’t want the bad guys committing crimes in our areas.”

Since Shaw and Segraves opened the security side of the business in 1991, only two officers have pulled their weapons out of their holsters — once for about 10 seconds, Shaw said. In an incident two months ago, an officer had his gun drawn while confronting burglars who were exiting a residence, he said.

“That is the only two times our officers — in eight years working 24 hours a day, seven days a week — have even taken their guns out of their holsters,” Shaw said, adding that only one officer has used physical force while on duty. He said the company utilizes “verbal judo.”

The retired sergeant said the company’s security officers have years of experience, training and knowledge, which does make their services a bit more costly, Shaw said. Nonetheless, the business is growing, he said.

“We’re the Rolls Royce, and the others are Hondas,” Shaw said. “I don’t know how else to say that.”

Shaw, Segraves and Associates continues to do its investigative work as well. Officers have been called to investigate organized fraud activity, fraudulent insurance claims, stalking investigations and more. They can range from the simple to the prolonged, Shaw said. Additionally, SSA provides close proximity protection, VIP security and facility security.

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