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City of Fairfax Turns to Private Security Company to Help Patrol the Streets

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FAIRFAX, Iowa - The City of Fairfax is taking a unique approach to public safety.

The mayor and city council have noticed an uptick in crime as the city grows. It's currently home to about 2,100 people. Census data shows the population has more than doubled since 1990.

Right now the city contracts with the Linn County Sheriff's Office for patrol service, but they decided they wanted additional enforcement as waves of vandalism and theft started to surface.

A couple weeks ago, for example, Mike Sankot realized his family's garage business was missing something.

"We figure it's around $500 worth," Sankot said.

Someone was stealing from the pile of scrap metal. The Sankot family put up cameras. Shortly after, the sheriff's department caught the criminals. Sankot said the city needs to do something as the city grows.

"They definitely need some eyes and ears around town," Sankot said.

City leaders thought the same thing. At the beginning of July, they started paying for extra security for the community.

"We wanted to be kind of progressive with it and come up with an opportunity that when people lay down and go to sleep at night, they know we have somebody out there," said City Councilman Marc Magers.

The council and mayor opted to hired a private company, Per Mar Security, to help keep watch. It's the same group that provides security during county fairs and at businesses in Eastern Iowa. This job, however, is a little different.

"Basically it's a Neighborhood Watch on wheels," said Per Mar Operations Manager Chris Wolfe.

Red cars are already making passes through Fairfax watching for anything out of the ordinary. Wolfe said this is his first time working out a contract to provide security for an entire city.

"I've heard of it elsewhere but nothing around here. So, it's exciting. It's something new and exciting for us to do, for us to get involved with," Wolfe said.

City leaders said, as the community grows, they eventually want to build a new city police department.

"This is kind of a step in that direction, and we'll see how that turns out," Magers said.

Per Mar will work with the city on a trial basis for 90 days. After that, the city will assess how the idea panned out and if the extra security is working.

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