Keeping a watchful eye
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/05/2020 (1116 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s 2:30 a.m., and Ron D’Errico, president and founder of Impact Security, and his dispatcher, Hitesh Bhasin, are holding down the fort at the company’s headquarters a block north of Portage and Main.
Normally, even this late on a weeknight, downtown streets would still be humming. Tonight, like most nights in recent weeks, things are eerily silent. No buses roaring past or sirens wailing in the distance.
“Usually there would be a lot going on at this time of the night, not just around here, but all over the city, but because of COVID-19 things are very quiet,” says D’Errico. “Since the state of emergency was declared (by the province on March 30) it feels as if every day is a holiday, especially at night.”
Bhasin keeps a watchful eye on a wall of closed-circuit camera monitors in the dispatch room, and is in constant radio contact with the guards on the street.
Despite an increase in patrols to shuttered businesses, where Impact guards may be the only people to check on properties during the pandemic, there has been a significant drop in late-night security alarms, and the normally constant radio chatter has practically disappeared, he says.
But there are occasional calls for assistance, usually concerning the city’s homeless population. Bhasin says Impact staff have done a good job dealing with and, in many cases, helping the city’s most vulnerable.
“I’m sitting in the office, but I hear what is going on out there and these guys are the ones keeping everyone safe right now,” he says. “So the credit goes to them.”
“I hear what is going on out there and these guys are the ones keeping everyone safe right now.”
Throughout the pandemic, Impact Security has seen about a 20 per cent drop in need for its services, due largely to the cancellation of public events at venues such as Bell MTS Place, but there has been an increase in the need for security guards at retail businesses deemed essential, including grocery stores, where the guards have become impromptu referees tasked with enforcing the public-health safety rules — particularly social distancing.
“The public has been very respectful and appreciative towards our security guards during these trying times,” says D’Errico, who has as many as 300 guards working around the clock in Winnipeg and thousands more on the job across Western Canada.
“I’m really proud of the amazing job all our men and women have been doing… it has been challenging, but we have met that challenge.”
— Willy Williamson