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Published on September 14th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

11

Friendly PBID Ambassador Not So Friendly

Employee of Downtown San Pedro’s Community Safety Ambassador Program Threatens Patron, 71 

By Arthur R. Vinsel

Devante Head is one of those young yellow-shirted bicycle patrolmen paid by the Downtown San Pedro Property Owners Business Improvement District (PBID) to reassure folks that central San Pedro is safe for shoppers and diners.

He lost sight of that PBID mission Friday, Aug. 31, when the outdoor Farmer’s Market and The 99 Cents Only Store(cq trademark) were extra busy with Social Security recipients who got checks early before Labor Day Weekend.

Head and his partner were behind me in a 99-Cent Store checkout line after going on duty at 11 a.m., buying candy.

My items were being rung up but the under-counter niche for empty hand baskets was full. So I had to reach awkwardly around him, standing close behind me, to set my basket down.

Never was I conscious of bumping or even brushing him.

“Sir…..Sir!…..SIR!!!,” someone suddenly yelled.

I turned around to find him glaring sternly, but with a smug little smile and his chin raised coyly like an English governess chiding an errant tot.

“You,” he accused softly, “bumped into me. And, you didn’t even excuse yourself!”

I told him I did not notice any bodily contact, but regretted it if so. I thought that covered it. Apparently not.

“Did you see that? Did you see that?” he demanded loudly, turning to his yellow PBID-shirted partner, who had seemed oblivious. “This dude bumped into me and he didn’t even excuse himself!”

At least he saw me as a dude and not an Old Fart. Friends claim that at 71 years of age, I barely look 50.

“Give it a rest,” I said evenly, without eye contact. But our downtown peace monitor continued to rant.

I was annoyed, but neither frightened nor intimidated by his junior high caliber tantrum, which became louder, as more customers’ heads turned.

“Don’t let that fancy uniform go to your head,” I said, turning to face him. That blew the lid off. The PBID kid thought I was accusing him of working at the 99-cent Store.

“I don’t work here! I don’t work in this store!” he shouted, grabbing a handful of his official PBID shirt at the waist and starting to pull it up and perhaps over his head.

“This uniform don’t mean NOTHIN!…I can take this uniform OFF!,” he snarled, giving me a ferocious, wide-open Muhammad Ali-style “stink eye” stare as though he would momentarily take me outside for a lesson in respect. (Head is not a big kid, by the way.)

Customers in nearby aisles were looking alarmed and our checker was quite nervous, on the verge of calling for their house security.

Head then straightened up his disheveled uniform and I turned my back on him and left, headed for the downtown PBID office at the Chamber of Commerce to make a report.

He had no idea I knew anything about PBID, nor its function in enhancing downtown as a safe, appealing destination for seniors and other citizens.

Stopping at the Farmer’s Market, I continued on and lo and behold, who do I encounter again but the same two, pedaling their bikes lazily up Sixth Street, keeping peace and order.

“Hey, can you guys direct me to the PBID Office?” I called, just to get their attention. His buddy was quite courteous and helpful, not recognizing me. Head did. He opened his mouth as though to say “Oh —-!,” then looked glum and worried.

Their supervisor, Security Director Glen Danielsen was not in, the Chamber ladies said, so I gave them all the details. I had a call waiting by the time I got home a few blocks away.

“I understand you had some sort of ‘collision’ with one of my officers,” said Danielsen, who had already interrogated the two.

I said collision wasn’t the word for it, nor was ‘offlcer’ the word for his staff member who’d confronted me.

“Well, no,” he said with a nervous laugh. “They’re not officers, just employees.”

Danielsen and the six men altogether who are PBID “Community Safety Ambassadors” work for a Long Beach firm named Universal Protection Service and just contracted with PBID about two years ago.

He added that their firm runs character and criminal record checks on all new hires. But he is not the staff member who handles that. Universal Protection is on Golden Shore Drive and employes 700 personnel.

Duties of the San Pedro six here are riding bikes or piloting Segway two-wheeled power scooters, assisting citizens with directions to shops, cafes or entertainment and imbuing visitors with a sense of safety, well-being, order, peace and friendliness.

San Pedro merchants for years have battled largely unfounded rumors that downtown is unsafe, losing business to larger suburbs and malls, despite its own charming enclave of restaurants, shops and growing arts scene.

The PBID and Arts, Culture and Entertainment (ACE) District have made steady progress and suddenly the historic old seaport has become a real, new destination.

Danielsen said a few days ago that Head wanted to call and apologize, but we missed connections until Monday when I called the main office. Universal Protection Manager Bradley Metcalfe himself got the call and a briefing on why.

He called back later.

“I have Devante Head right here with me and he’d like to speak to you,” said Metcalfe.

“Um, I want to apologize and hope there are no hard feelings…”he said. I started to ask what in the world set him off like that, but the telephone was abruptly taken away from him.

The Boss came back on the line and said he hoped now in light of an apology we could just put this all behind us, asking if that might be a possibility?

“I’m just a contributing reporter,” I explained. “Editors and Publishers make those decisions.”

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11 Responses to Friendly PBID Ambassador Not So Friendly

  1. David Johnson says:

    I just red this sarcastic article i was in the store the day this happen and it was not at all what i observed. No one in the store seemed to be worried nor did the checker seem to be worried this hole article is totally out of hand. I have been living in this area for years i have seen the old company leave and this new yello shirts come in and make a change. I have personally encontered Devonted Head on the street and he did not come of aggreisve at all a very soft spoken officer. I hope that someone gets to the bottom of the RL writter who seems to love to strech the truth . He seems to be the type to allways give that tall tail story.

  2. Ann Uy says:

    There’s three sides to every story. Arthur Vincel’s article, dripping with spite and sarcasm, clearly has an agenda—to defame the Yellow-shirt bike patrol officers. I noticed that he even goes so far as to magically read the mind of the checker at the 99-cent store, saying that, “Our checker was quite nervous, on the verge of calling for their house security.” Talented man, that Vincel; he can scan others’ minds and discern their thoughts. Responsible journalism, indeed. But then, when you have a burning agenda, you pull out all the stops. It sounds to me that he may never have seen the movie, “Absence of Malice.” Too bad; it might have whispered a lesson to him—in the title of the movie alone, mind you. I read things like this, and I only feel contempt for the rag that publishes such caustic ooze.
    Three sides to every story. We can only wonder what the PBID officer’s side of the story was. All we have are the words of one ticked-off man having a tantrum in print. The power of the pen, baby. But you know, we in the community have constant, ongoing contact with the yellow-shirt kids. And, funny thing— before all of us they always appear professional, helpful, upbeat, cheerful. Maybe Vincel could have been the one having a bad day that day at the 99-cent store on Gaffey. Or maybe yellow-shirt officer made a mistake during the unfortunate meeting. Unfortunate indeed; because it seems he crossed paths with a vindictive, pathetic little personality.

  3. Arthur Hawan says:

    Is this article serious or a prank? If serious, this is why the elderly get such a bad rap.

    Really?!?!, no, Really!!!!!

    Arthur Vinsel, did you work for a living or off of the system all your life? If you are or were a reporter then never mind I get it.

    This is so wrought with prejudice, false, intentionally defaming statements, ones head spins…….

    “Muhammad Ali” Style-What does this mean, is this your way of saying that the officer is African American? I don’t know if he is but must guess by your slander. Or are you saying something else entirely, is it a religious slur? I’m sure at your heightened level of intelligence that you understand every word you printed.

    I found the comments and constant attempts to undermine and derate these individuals offensive and completely counter productive to what you claim you are trying to change and or protect.

    Image good sir would be preserved by not getting your peacock feathers all in a bunch because you may not feel relevant anymore. Don’t feel bad about your drain on the system you still have value, just point it in the right direction.

    I have seen these guys and frankly am very thankful they are here. There are not often local PD presence and it appears they are the front line of defense for our citizens.

    You should step back, think about what you have written, I mean take the perspective of your being the recipient of these statements and if you are at all a stand-up citizen you would realize you put pen to paper as it would in a manner better reserved for a tale with your buddies or interesting tale you can spin to a significant other.

    I think a retraction and apology on your part would show you are in fact the caliber of person you seem to believe you are and respect you deserve.

    Thank you to those young men, sorry haven’t seen any ladies so not leaving them out if so, for watching our neighborhood and diligently working to keep us safe. There is no greater honor than in the service of others.

  4. TMontgomeryRn says:

    This article can’t be serious. I know the employee in question and have for years. I can attest to the character of this man; character that is in no way represented by the author’s one-sided commentary. Any company would be lucky to have Davonte on its staff. He is a God-fearing man of integrity. The rant upon which the authored has embarked is actually laughable. I wouldn’t believe any of this if you paid me.

  5. Danesha Edwards says:

    Was Davonte Head contacted for his version of the “story”? Were there any witnesses interviewed? Looks to me to be a bit one-sided. Shame on the reporter and publisher both. This sounds to me like the classic “I caught a huge fish” story that’s been told over the years… Sure you caught a fish, but was it as big as you want everyone to believe… Mr. Head may have encountered the complainant but was it as big of a deal as written? Not likely. I have known Davonte for a number of years and never once has he presented himself as anything but a kind and respectful young man. Davonte is a very active member in his church and people speak very highly of him. He is NOT the person portrayed in this article.

    • Brp says:

      Davonte is a very active member in his church,,,, What does that have to do with anything,, Many terrorists are “Very Active Members of a Church!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  6. Kat Branchman says:

    What was the purpose of this article if the young man apologized? Like the two comments before mines I agree that this article is filled with “sarcasm” and “dripping with spite and sarcasm, clearly has an agenda—to defame the Yellow-shirt bike patrol officers.” Sir at 71, it seems that you have some deep scars that have not healed. You took a simple situation and turned it in to an unnecessary battle. You could have taken that opportunity to show compassion and enlighten the “tot” about the error of his ways. But no, it was more important that you use this opportunity to exercise your “power of the press” and write a clearly one sided story. You even had the audacity to mention you don’t look 71 at all! As if that was a crucial part of the story…

    “Friends claim that at 71 years of age, I barely look 50.”

    REALLY!!! Clearly you sir were just waiting for a moment like this. To finally right all the wrongs in your life. For every time someone asked you to excuse yourself (if that’s even what happened). For every young punk who skateboards on the side walk and doesn’t move over for the elderly. For every thug who blasts his music to loud out the car off-setting your equilibrium…this article allowed you to take your power back!…Yea right.

    1 Chronicles 16:22 “Do not touch my anointed ones…”

    Davonte Head is loved by a community who not only knows his heart, but knows his character.

  7. Alyse says:

    This is totally ridiculous. Davonte is such a sweet guy and this is totally against his nature. I think this was VERY LARGE EXAGERATION.

  8. Bizworldusa says:

    This article can’t be serious. Any company would be lucky to have Davonte on its staff. He is a God-fearing man of integrity. The rant upon which the authored has embarked is actually laughable……

    Regards,
    Bizworldusa – dot -com

  9. Mercedez says:

    I feel that the statements made in this article are exaggerated. Since when is it okay to bumb into someone and not say excuse me then get mad when the person you bumb says something about it. I know Davonte personally and this isnt his character at all. I would like to hear Davonte side of the story because this article is false.

  10. Random Lengths News says:

    Nearly 50 years in journalism provides one with a thick skin for criticism and it’s a well-known fact that if everyone loves you and what you write, you aren’t doing your job. At least that’s the case with everyone with the exception of the L.A. Times’ late columnist Jack Smith, a gem of a newspaperman.

    That said, David Johnson and Ann Uy took great exception to my reporting on a recent experience with a PBID bike patrol kid downtown. Uy missed the whole point in accusing me of a “vendetta” against the PBID patrol and somehow seeking to destroy them. I’ve admired their work and was concerned at what one immature showoff in his yellow T-shirt was doing to their image, as I explained to their superiors. She berates me repeatedly for alleged sarcasm, not recognizing it was irony. There’s a difference, Dear Heart.

    Johnson says he was a witness to the 99-Cent Store disturbance but he must not have been paying attention. He sounds like a crony of the star of the show, Devante Head, taking dictation to deny or defend his friend’s outrageous actions.

    I was there and stand by what I reported. As a late, beloved editor used to preach: “You don’t have to tell our readers some jerk is an A–H—. Just quote him and describe his actions. They’ll get it.”

    One more point: Uy and Johnson were each in great high dudgeon over the alleged injustice to Mr. Head posed by my coverage of his public hissy fit, but neither of them even spelled our names correctly.

    How can you take people like that seriously?

    Arthur R. Vinsel

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