FLA to get tough on security companies
While members of the private security industry are clamouring for the Government’s outsourcing of non-operational police duties, the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) has warned that it will be clamping down on rogue security companies that continue to run afoul of its regulations.
Letine Allen, director of compliance and enforcement at the FLA, said that despite repeated warnings, too many private security companies have continued to turn a blind eye to basic safety requests.
Speaking at this month’s meeting of the local chapter of the American Society for Industrial Security, Allen listed improper unloading and storage of firearms, failure to meet renewal deadlines, and lack of custodial management among the issues plaguing the industry.
“In the future, what we are going to do, because we want to drive compliance and enforce the rules and regulations, you will see more snap audits. We will just show up at the company to ensure that everything is in place. We will ensure that the audits are transparent, and, as best as possible, that they are done on time,” said Allen.
“We will be closing down operations if concerns are not met because we can’t come each year and are telling you to ‘do this’ and ‘do that’, and the things are still not done. We will be calling in the police for companies that are not adhering to rules,” continued Allen, to murmurs from the security practitioners present at Thursday’s meeting.
“What we have seen in one particular case is a garbage bin with sand inside of it, and they call that a clearing area. That is a no-no. Registers are not being properly maintained, and what subsequently happened is that we seized all its firearms,” she explained.
Last Tuesday, managing director of KingAlarm John P. Azar, and Lt Cmdr George Overton, president of the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security and operations director of the Guardsman Group, said governments have been dodging requests to free up some non-operational police duties, noting that that paradigm shift would make economic sense and help to better redeploy manpower.
According to Azar, “Such a move would allow our police personnel to focus on emergency or life-and-death critical situations, proactive crime-prevention strategies, and certain types of criminal/murder investigations, which, for obvious reasons, could never be outsourced.”
Last Thursday, retired Major Richard Reese, managing director of Allied Protection Limited, said that while he fully agrees with the outsourcing of police duties, compliance with FLA regulations is crucial to ensuring a competitive industry and quality service to customers.
“We are in total support of the requirements in terms of accountability and verification, and I would say that to a large extent, they (FLA) should have good compliance, and it would just be a few who the FLA would have had those issues with,” said Reese.
“It is a very important area because those are standard requirements for the storage, issue, and receipt of firearms and ammunition. Compliance ensures a proper market situation and competitive forces. When persons don’t comply, they usually have an unfair advantage, and I think that is something that the industry and regulations have to continue to work towards,” said Reese.
In the meantime, Allen said that supporting documents were missing from renewal forms submitted by some security companies, and forms were taken into the FLA in batches rather than individually – and well past their deadlines.
In other cases, documents were not signed by the relevant authorities, and in others, the FLA was not being informed about security guards who were no longer employed to the organisations.
“What we have found for a specific company was that the operations manager was signing on behalf of the guards on the renewal forms, and that is a no-no. It is a breach. You are actually forging the guard’s signature,” she explained.