Security changes made on Treasure Coast after Pulse shooting
Since the Pulse nightclub massacre a year ago, Treasure Coast sheriffs have terminated contracts with G4S, the private security firm gunman Omar Mateen worked for until the shooting. NICOLE RODRIGUEZ/TCPALM Wochit
PGA Village residents are questioning how Orlando Pulse gay nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, who was a security guard for the St. Lucie County community, went undetected for so long.(Photo: NICOLE RODRIGUEZ/TCPALM)
Since the Pulse nightclub massacre a year ago, Treasure Coast sheriffs have terminated contracts with G4S, the private security firm gunman Omar Mateen worked for until the shooting. Sheriffs in St. Lucie and Indian River counties late last year nixed their contracts with the firm, which provided courthouse security for both counties. Both sheriffs cited security concerns after the mass shooting and an outcry from Treasure Coast judges who feared for their safety.
We weren t comfortable with G4S anymore, Indian River County Sheriff s Office spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers said. More than 50,000 people in the United States and Canada work for G4S, and are involved with providing security for entities including governments, ports, airports, nuclear plants and residential communities.
G4S’s Youth Services division provided security at Martin Girls Academy, a juvenile detention facility in Martin County, but the firm sold the division earlier this year to BHSB Holdings for $56.5 million, according to a G4S news release. As of last year, G4S provided security at Florida Power & Light Co.’s St. Lucie Nuclear Plant, but it’s unclear if the firm still does. An FPL representative declined to discuss G4S. G4S guards lack training for a shooting incident deputies possess and don t receive annual firearm training, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said.
God forbid, if at one of our courthouses, we did have an active shooter scenario, a lot of those G4S employees were never exposed to the training to react to or respond to that type of incident, Mascara said.
Martin County Sheriff Will Snyder told TCPalm in the weeks following the shooting he never considered hiring G4S or any other security firm because he wouldn’t have the same confidence in private guards as he has in his deputies. Replacing G4S with deputies has cost St. Lucie $200,000 more than the $377,000 the sheriff paid G4S last year. Indian River paid G4S $86,000 last year for two guards to provide security at the front door. The sheriff has been able to replace the G4S guards with existing manpower at the courthouse.
For G4S s part, a firm spokeswoman said the company has not changed any hiring procedures since the Orlando shooting, but does express sympathy to Mateen s 49 victims.
Even though G4S Secure Solutions Inc. continues to have the deepest sympathy for those affected by the incident, the facts demonstrate that G4S s actions did not in any way contribute to the shooting, G4S spokeswoman Monica Lewman-Garcia told TCPalm in an email on May 25. It is important to note that G4S was never given any information, either by law enforcement authorities or Mateen s co-workers, which caused G4S to question Mateen s continued employment with the company. Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, was hired as a security guard by G4S in 2007.
As part of the G4S hiring process, he underwent a standard psychological exam and a background check, company representatives said. The state, too, screened Mateen every two years for him to keep his private security license. Beyond that, G4S does not conduct yearly background checks of its employees; rather, 15 percent of all employees are randomly checked each year. G4S last year was fined $151,000 by the Florida Department of Agriculture for a clerical error on more than 1,500 psychological exams, including Mateen’s. The company identified the incorrect psychologist as the doctor that conducted the exams.
Mateen’s background, however, again was checked by G4S in 2013 after the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office requested he be removed from the St. Lucie County Courthouse patrol after he made disturbing comments to a deputy.
Omar Mateen (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO)
Mateen threatened he’d have al-Qaida kill the deputy and his family, Mascara has said. Mateen also made derogatory comments at the courthouse about women and said the Fort Hood shooter was justified, Mascara has said. Maj. Nidal Hasan in 2009 opened fire on Fort Hood soldiers, killing 13 and wounding 32. He was subsequently sentenced to death. The FBI launched an investigation into Mateen at Mascara’s request, but he was cleared and kept his job at G4S.
G4S learned that the FBI had investigated Mateen, found nothing of concern, and closed its investigation, Lewman-Garcia said.
Mateen was transferred from the courthouse patrol to guard PGA Village, a gated community in St. Lucie County west of Interstate 95. The community’s Master Board considered firing the firm after outraged residents learned Mateen was responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. The community ultimately retained G4S under the conditions the board can screen potential new hires and have access to guard performance reviews. Board President Bill Leary declined to comment.
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- ^ an outcry from Treasure Coast judges who feared for their safety. (archive.tcpalm.com)
- ^ provided security at Florida Power & Light Co.’s St. Lucie Nuclear Plant (archive.tcpalm.com)
- ^ From childhood to mass shooting, what happened to Omar Mateen? (www.tcpalm.com)
- ^ outraged residents learned Mateen was responsible (archive.tcpalm.com)
- ^ The community ultimately retained G4S (www.tcpalm.com)