The Flower Mound Town Council on Monday voted to terminate its contract with All City Management Services (ACMS) for crossing guard services, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
At that point the police department will take over management of the program.
The town outsourced its crossing guard program to ACMS in 2017 to free up time and resources for the police department, which previously oversaw the program, and the council approved an extension of the contract in April.
But continued concerns from some of the crossing guards about the program prompted Councilman Jim Engel to bring the issues up with the Town Council and request the termination.
Some of the crossing guards have expressed concerns over what they said are safety issues based on what they’ve witnessed since the California-based company took over. They claimed background checks have not been conducted for new hires, and that appropriate training hasn’t been provided to new hires.
They said ACMS has not provided the staffing levels it promised, saying there have been numerous occasions when crosswalks have been unfilled or only had one guard at a site meant to have two.
Some guards said the turnover rate for supervisors has been high and that communication between guards and supervisors has been poor. Some also said satisfaction surveys that were filled out with negative responses were not given to the town.
“We need to do this in house. From employee care, child care and cost savings, it’s better to do this in house,” Engel said.
Police Chief Andy Kancel said he would prefer ACMS to keep the program rather than having it come back to the police department, saying ACMS is more equipped to handle the staffing and management.
Kancel said the police department has received 21 complaints from guards and said upon investigating those only found five to be substantiated. Of those, two were supervisor issues that led to termination, and three were staffing issues, which were addressed, according to a report from the police department.
He also said officers visited the sites to get feedback from the guards.
“We received only positive information back from them,” Kancel said.
Mayor Steve Dixon asked how many safety-specific issues have been brought before the town. Kancel said there hasn’t been any other than when a crosswalk isn’t staffed.
Mayor Pro Tem Sandeep Sharma said complaints such as not having crosswalks fully staffed are a safety concern but don’t necessarily lead to a call to police.
Engel said he’s convinced of the concerns even if the guards didn’t call the town about them.
“These guards are scared for their jobs and are scared of retaliation,” Engel said.
Councilman Jim Pierson questioned the claims made by some of the crossing guards.
“All I can find are anecdotal comments about issues from ACMS,” Pierson said. “I have yet to be able to talk to one single guard or find one thing that’s verifiable.”
Pierson suggested amending the contract with ACMS and call for several requirements – creating a clear path for crossing guards to communicate concerns to the town, have spot checks by the police department, have a third-party company conduct the employee surveys and require the town to post the crossing guard shifts so the community will know when guards are supposed to be on site.
Pierson and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem voted for that motion, but it failed. Engel, Sharma and Councilman Ben Bumgarner voted to terminate the contract.
Kancel, who said the children’s safety is his top priority, said the police department supports keeping the program outsourced since that keeps his officers from having to fill in at vacancies and lets them spend more time responding to calls.
“We need to keep our eye on first responder response,” Kancel said.
He said in 2015-16, crossing guards maintained a minimum required staffing level of 95 percent and required 1,232 hours of police officers filling in when there was a no-show.
In 2018-19, ACMS maintained a 99.9 percent minimum staffing level, and only 13.5 hours were staffed by a police officer, he said.
Kancel said it would also keep the police department from having to spend time hiring, managing and recruiting crossing guards when it needs to be spending time doing that for officers.
Kancel said the police department is at minimum staff already with 10 officer openings and six officers in training.
“They can also provide more supervision,” Kancel said. “They have two full-time and two part-time supervisors.”
Kancel said the projected cost savings of having the town manage the program is minimal. He said it's estimated it would cost $560,249 if ACMS ran the program, and that's assuming the maximum contract costs are paid, which he said hasn't happened to date.
Kancel said it would cost $522,586 if the town brought it back as it was in 2016-17 with one full-time supervisor or $553,198 if the town ran it with a full-time and a part-time supervisor.