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Security guards protect footbridge near Le Meridien JAKARTA - Anyone using the footbridge in front of the Le Meridien hotelon Jl. Sudirman in Central Jakarta will notice the presence of several security guards, each equipped with a combat knife and stick, standing by the bridge. At a glance, people might think that the guards, who wear light blue uniforms, gray berets and an armband that reads Polda Metro Jaya (Jakarta Police), are policemen. But they are actually employed by a private security company hired by thehotel management to watch the bridge.

"We hired those security personnel to watch the bridge because we have many guests using the bridge to cross over," public relations official of the hotel, Aprilisa Madewa, told The Jakarta Post early last week. "There used to be a lot of pickpockets operating on the bridge," she said. "They used to operate near the stairs at both ends of the bridge. That's why we put one guard at each end." Aprilisa said the hotel had earlier received complaints from guests that the bridge was not safe for them to use. "We got a guest once, a foreigner, who reported that his cellular phone had been stolen when he was walking on the bridge," she said.

"That's a shame for us and it tarnishes our country's image," she added. The official said that before the deployment of the security personnel, many guests had asked accompaniment from our hotel staff before using the bridge. Aprilisa said the program, which started early this year, had reduced losses due to pickpockets.

Aprilisa's statement was echoed by a vendor who sells video compact discs(VCD) on the bridge. "Since their presence, there are no more pickpockets operating here," the19-year-old vendor, who refused to be named, told the Post. Like most footbridges in the city, many vendors occupying the bridge sellvarious items from pirated VCDs to fabrics. "The pickpockets used to work in groups. Some would distract the victims and others would steal their belongings. I guess they have moved to other footbridges because of the guards," the vendor said. The security personnel are from the Barungu Aneka Sistem Sekuriti (Bass) security company, which was established in 1996.

A security guard who was assigned to guard the bridge last week, Sopian, said there were three guards on duty on the bridge on each shift. The guard's presence benefits not only the hotel's guests but also all pedestrians. "We're assigned to watch the bridge on behalf of guests of the hotel. Butwe cannot distinguish the guests from others, so I guess we're doing it foreverybody," Sopian said.

A woman who works at the World Trade Center across from the hotel said that she always came to the hotel for lunch using the bridge. "I feel safe now. This kind of security should be applied on other footbridges," the woman said. Bass marketing officer Ade Sidik Permana said the security personnel wereonly authorized to catch criminals.

"If our personnel catch one, they should hand the suspect to the police,"Ade said adding that so far the security personnel had not found any criminals operating on the bridge. "I guess they're afraid to commit a crime after seeing the security personnel standing by," he added. Ade revealed that the company had a unique criteria for employees.

"Every employee should be a family member of the Marines. So if they deliberately make a mistake, they will smear not only the company's name but also the name of the Indonesian Marines' big family," Ade said. He said the company, which is jointly run by the Marines Foundation and aJapanese company, had about 600 security personnel, including 50 females, who had been adequately trained for the job.

Ade said many people applauded the placing of the security personnel on the bridge. "It was like an advertisement for us. People will be asking, who are these guards. Then they come to me and ask for our service for their company," Ade said.



Posted in General @ 25 September 2000 16:42 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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