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Wackenhut: County About to Make Mass Transit More Dangerous

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After four years of basically taking it lying down, Wackenhut -- the firm contracted to provide security for Miami-Dade Transit -- came out swinging this afternoon at a press conference at the InterContinental, announcing a $20 million lawsuit against the county, which has basically accused the Palm Beach Gardens company of being a bunch of sloppy liars and thieves. "Wackenhut says, 'Enough,'" thundered company chief Drew Levine, and by "enough," he meant enough with the charges that Wackenhut has falsely billed the county, oh, $3.4 million for security work on county mass transit systems. And why should you care? Because, according to Wackenhut, the county is about to make it more dangerous to ride mass transit. 

More after the jump.

The county maintains that the security firm -- South Florida's version of Blackwater -- failed to post guards at certain posts and billed the county for it anyway. In an initial audit, performed in 2008, an auditor estimated Wackenhut had billed the county $6.26 million for work it didn't perform. That number was later revised to $3.4 million.

The county wants that money back, and if it doesn't get it, and soon, County Manager George Burgess says he'll terminate the county's 20-year contract with the company. That contract, which pays Wackenhut an estimated $17 million a year, is set to expire in November.

Wackenhut counters that the county-hired auditor used "fatally flawed" methods to come up with the $3.4 million figure. At this afternoon's press conference, a former University of Florida statistics professor said the audit was "totally unreliable." Levine also denied any systematic overbilling.

If the county gives the security contract to a new firm, Levine says that could spell trouble for mass transit riders. Why? Because Wackenhut, according to Levine, has a more rigorous hiring process than competitors -- allowing only former military or law enforcement personnel to work as guards.

In the end, though, it all comes down to money. Besides the Metrorail contract, the county is also looking to end its relationship with Wackenhut at Miami-Dade Juvenile Services, a contract the company has held since 1998.

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14 comments
Patrick Smith
Patrick Smith

No doubt about it. G4s Wackenhut is the most crooked, dishonest and unreliable company in the market. Just check public records or the internet and see for your eyes. They have a long rapsheet history of misconduct on all types of complaints from labor harrasment to fraud. I wonder how this company has not losed their license yet or be debarred from all government contracts nationwide. Is it that somebody is selling their soul for Wachy hot or maybe taking money under the table???? FEDS WATCH OUT!!! more to come.

Susy
Susy

No more chances, Wackenhut must be fired and banned forever from government contracts.

Mr.Smith
Mr.Smith

Yes,sir That is True G4s Wackenhut is a company with a very bad reputation,just check the web and public records and you will see the hundreds of complaints,lawsuit, fraud,violation of employees laws and other ilegal isssues they had been involved in. They must be banned from contracting with any government or municipality forever. Why are you still giving them a change when there are smaller but much more realiable and honest security companies in the security market. Fire Wackenhut before is too late!

dominique
dominique

hummer:I need to tell you your ignorace is big evry body hired for the train had been at list three years police officers or ex military police officers (MP's)or retired fedral agents and some of them have master degree or bachelors degrees also but most of them has at list two years college and some speak more than two laguages including french japanise chinese etc.

hummmer
hummmer

It's just amazing to read the comments posted by those who are ignorant of the subject. The guy that states his security supervisor was a recruiter made me laught. Does it mean that if anyone on the military was a cook he is qualified to work security for him too. Hummmm... Before you go shooting your mouth next itme you might want to find out what the real requirements for guarding transit facilities are. Additionally the county is ultimately responsible for approving any candidates who want to work there. Another info bit...Miami Dade Transit does have a Security department and they do not "work" for peanuts either. How much they make can only be left out to your imagination and judgement whether or not you feel it's well deserved. Just ask yourself the question of how much those county workers you see lounging around during work hours get paid from your tax dollars. That should give you plenty to gripe about.

hummmer
hummmer

It's just amazing to read the comments posted by those who are ignorant of the subject. The guy that states his security supervisor was a recruiter made me laught. Does it mean that if anyone on the military was a cook he is qualified to work security for him too. Hummmm... Before you go shooting your mouth next itme you might want to find out what the real requirements for guarding transit facilities are. Additionally the county is ultimately responsible for approving any candidates who want to work there. Another info bit...Miami Dade Transit does have a Security department and they do not "work" for peanuts either. How much they make can only be left out to your imagination and judgement whether or not you feel it's well deserved. Just ask yourself the question of how much those county workers you see lounging around during work hours get paid from your tax dollars. That should give you plenty to gripe about.

ANON
ANON

I'm sorry but it's ignorant to believe that Wackenhut is the only company that has prior military/ law enforcement personnel working for them. I know many companies that use prior service members and are better than Wackenhut price wise and service wise. Currently I'm a Property Manager and have Command Security as my security and in my book they are they best. Not only are their guards top notch but the HR Manager is a ex Army Recruiter. Prior to getting them I had Allied Barton and the guards weren't bad at all it's just the new company has better service. I've talked over with some people at Wackenhut and they are way too cocky for people that have guards falling asleep at Nuclear Plant! I believe they are way too overrated and the only reason they are so popular is because they happen to have the county contracts. In my opinion and that of many others I know it's time for a change Get another company that's better and cheaper. They do exist. How can we truly say we are safe with a security company that can't even keep their guards awake at Turkey Point or that steals from it's own county!

ALS
ALS

What planet are you people on. Ex-officers and military personnel. What bull sh...... The people that I see daily are not ex-police officers or ex-military, Unless we are recruiting from Colombian, Venezuelan or Cuban military personnel. If there is maybe 10-15 ex military we are lucky.

They need to go and go now. I think that Miami Dade County Police should be responsible for the transit security or even better MDT should develop their own security group and start running the show themselves.

We don't need another company that will take our hard earned money. MDT should be responsible for this and develop a new division for transit security.

xguard
xguard

Wackenhut is not the only company that hires ex military/cops. There are at least 4 other Security guard companies just in Miami with the same rigorous hiring requirements. One of them is Alutiiq-Mele currently guarding most of federal buildings in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties...

olga e.
olga e.

the miami dade county government should really do an audit on themselves as a whole,with all the mismanagement and fraud going on with in them selves and just as a reminder wackenhuts officers are not your regular joe blow guards '

blogman
blogman

The county is covering up the incompetent department they run. Kathy Jackson has about as much audit expreience as Obama had as a Senator. Bottom line in my opinion is it's all about cutting Wackenhut to save moeny by hiring low rent guards. It makes sense if they are thinking of repealing 1/2 cent rip-off tax.

The big losers here will be all the people who feel safe using mass transit to get to work, school, hospitals, airport not to mention the officers who will be losing their jobs after 20 years looking after folks on the Miami mas transit system.

luis rivers
luis rivers

Is all about the money , people that ride the transit system in Miami feel safe with Wackenhut because every single guard is a former police officer either civilian or military with a minimum of 3 years experience. Now the county to safe a few bucks lower this standarts so anyone with an arm security lisence can work. So the county is not telling the citizens of Miami Dade County they will have a regular security. They should tell us the citizens the truth. We paying a 1/2 penny tax for better transit services but instead they going backwards.

Anon
Anon

One would thing it will come to an end. But with Wackenhut, which has employed very expensive lobbyists and shown impressive resiliency, you never know. What are a few millionm in faked timesheets? Ah, c'mon, guys....

South Florida Lawyers
South Florida Lawyers

I'm no expert at this (actually, I am) but does all of this mean their business relationship may be coming to a close?

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