Eye on the Hills: Montclarions hope to bring back safety ambassador

Ginny Prior ??
Safety Ambassador Kevin Gilmore patrols Montclair Village over the recent holidays. His last day was Jan. 14, when the funding ran out for his position, and already there are calls to bring him back. (Ginny Prior — for Bay Area News Group) 

Gilmore lives in Antioch but grew up in inner-city Oakland. He says he would gladly work again in Montclair, where the people are friendly and he feels like his presence made a difference.

“A lot of people I talked to don’t like to come out at night here — they don’t feel safe. I’ve noticed kids leave the park an hour before dark. You should be able to go out with your family,” he says.

For his part, Montclair Village Executive Director Daniel Swafford says he’d like to find more funds for the ambassador position.

“We want to see where the city and (its) new administration can find funding in their upcoming budget for something a little more long-term — especially if they’ve got a gap in their police staffing.”

Swafford says having a uniformed safety ambassador is a way to make sure people come out and eat, shop and feel safe as patrons of the village.

“Montclair is one of those places that can easily be targeted by folks looking for a quick score — just like all over the Bay Area.”

Creative funding could be one answer, with people making tax-deductible donations to the Montclair Village Association. A GoFundMe campaign for security cameras in the village had raised $5,980 with 73 donors at press time.

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Around town: A prime retail space is actively being marketed in Montclair. It’s the 650-square-foot-shop on Medau Place that Pelago vacated when they moved to their new, larger store on La Salle Avenue.

“It’s a great location by Daughter Thai and the (Montclair) Egg Shop,” says Swafford, who is trying to get a good retail shop in there instead of another salon or service-oriented business. The rent is about $2,000 a month but like most things is negotiable.

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One person can make a difference. The saying holds true for Kevin Gilmore, the security guard who did much to keep Montclarions safe during the holidays. Gilmore’s last day was Jan. 14, when the funding ran out for his position, and already there are calls to bring him back.

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As a Montclair Village Safety Ambassador, Gilmore walked the business district from Bank of America to Italian Colors for 30 days, escorting shoppers to their cars and generally looking for any signs of trouble. Sometimes he found it.

“All the stores in Montclair had my number, and one day I got a call about a guy who was in a store messing with people, and I guess he was trying to get someone’s purse,” Gilmore said.

He responded and was able to de-escalate the situation until police came, he said.

“It’s all about your demeanor,” he says. “Security isn’t always about putting your hands on people. If you talk to them and tell them they don’t have to do this, you don’t have to use violence.”

Safety Ambassador Kevin Gilmore patrols Montclair Village over the recent holidays. His last day was Jan. 14, when the funding ran out for his position, and already there are calls to bring him back. (Ginny Prior — for Bay Area News Group) 

Gilmore lives in Antioch but grew up in inner-city Oakland. He says he would gladly work again in Montclair, where the people are friendly and he feels like his presence made a difference.

“A lot of people I talked to don’t like to come out at night here — they don’t feel safe. I’ve noticed kids leave the park an hour before dark. You should be able to go out with your family,” he says.

For his part, Montclair Village Executive Director Daniel Swafford says he’d like to find more funds for the ambassador position.

“We want to see where the city

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment

      

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