G4S Secure Solutions

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For the prison company formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, see GEO Group.
G4S Secure Solutions (USA)
Industry Security
Founded 1954 (Coral Gables, Florida)
Headquarters Jupiter, Florida, United States
Key people
George Wackenhut (Founder)
Parent G4S plc
Website www.g4s.com/us

G4S Secure Solutions (USA) is an American security services company, and a wholly owned subsidiary of G4S plc. It was founded as The Wackenhut Corporation in 1954, in Coral Gables, Florida, by George Wackenhut and three partners (all are former FBI agents). In 2002 the company was acquired for $570 million by Danish corporation Group 4 Falck (itself then merged to form British company G4S in 2004).[1] In 2010, G4S Wackenhut changed its name to G4S Secure Solutions (USA) to reflect the new business model.[2][3] The G4S Americas Region headquarters is in Jupiter, Florida.[4][5]


After early struggles (including a fistfight between George Wackenhut and one of his partners), Wackenhut took sole control of his company in 1958, then naming it after himself. Working throughout the day in his office, he sometimes continued nightly as a security guard. By 1964, he had contracts to guard the Kennedy Space Center and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's nuclear test site in Nevada. The following year, he took his company public.

In the mid-60s, Florida Governor Claude Kirk commissioned the Wackenhut Corporation to help fight a "war on organized crime", awarding the company a $500,000 contract. The commission lasted about a year but led to more than 80 criminal indictments, including many for local politicians and government employees.[6] Following the murder of a British tourist at a rest stop in 1993, Florida contracted with Wackenhut to provide security at all state rest stops.

Security services[edit]

Services by security companies typically include: permanent guarding service, security officers, manned security, disaster response, emergency services, control room monitoring, armed security, unarmed security, special event security, security patrols, reception/concierge service, access control, emergency medical technicians (EMT) service, ambassador service.

Like other security companies, G4S targets sectors: energy, utilities, and chemical/petrochemical, financial institutions, government, hospitals and healthcare facilities, major corporates, industrials and construction, ports and airports, residential communities, retail and commercial real estate, transit systems

Clients include: GSK[7] and U.S. Customs and Border Protection[8]

G4S acquisitions in the U.S.[edit]

AMAG Technology, Touchcom Inc., Adesta, and Nuclear Security Services Corp. (NSSC)[2]

Wackenhut Corrections becomes GEO Group (2003)[edit]

Having expanded into providing food services for U.S. prisons in the 1960s, Wackenhut in 1984 launched a subsidiary to design and manage jails and detention centers for the burgeoning private prison market. Wackenhut then became the nation's second largest for-profit prison operator.

In April 1999, the state of Louisiana took over the running of Wackenhut's 15-month-old juvenile prison after the U.S. Justice Department accused Wackenhut of subjecting its young inmates to "excessive abuse and neglect."[9] U.S. journalist Gregory Palast commented on the case: "New Mexico's privately operated prisons are filled with America's impoverished, violent outcasts — and those are the guards."[10] He catalogued lax background checks before hiring guards, which led to several alleged cases of guards physically and sexually abusing inmates. In the U.S., Wackenhut has appeared in the federal courts 62 times since 1999,[when?] largely resulting from prisoners' claims of human rights abuses.[10] The company has been accused of trying to maximise profits in its private prisons at the expense of drug rehabilitation, counselling and literacy programs. In 1995 Wackenhut was investigated for diverting $700,000 intended for drug treatment programs at a Texas prison.

The GEO Group, Inc. now runs former Wackenhut facilities in 14 states, as well as in South Africa and Australia. Some facilities, such as the Wackenhut Corrections Centers in New York, retain the Wackenhut name despite no longer having any open connection with the company.

In 2003, GEO Group changed from a corporate subsidy (WCC) into a fully independent company from Wackenhut.[11]

Nuclear services at Peach Bottom (2008)[edit]

The Wackenhut Corporation provided armed security services for many nuclear power plants. In September 2007, former employee Kerry Beal and Paul A. Kennedy videotaped fellow security guards at the Peach Bottom Nuclear Generating Station sleeping while on duty. Beal had previously tried to notify supervisors at Wackenhut and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Wackenhut was fired from its role guarding Peach Bottom and nine other nuclear plants.[12]

Murder of Janet Chandler (1979)[edit]

In 1979, hotel clerk and Hope College senior Janet Chandler was found dead in a snowbank along Interstate 196 near Holland, Michigan. She had been raped. Initially treated as a robbery, the case remained unsolved until a group of Hope students, led by Hope professor David Schock, produced a documentary that uncovered a sex and drugs party atmosphere at the hotel, which had been occupied by dozens of Wackenhut security guards (assigned to protect the facilities of local manufacturer Chemtron during a bitter strike). The documentary prompted a reopening of the case, and arrests of six security guards and a hotel supervisor who was Chandler's roommate. In November 2007, two individuals pleaded guilty to charges, and the remaining four then-guards were additionally found guilty of her murder.[13]

Rumors about Wackenhut and the CIA[edit]

Frequent rumors that his company was in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency, particularly in the 1960s, were never substantiated, but Wackenhut, who was obsessive about high-tech security gadgets in his private life, did not discourage the suggestion. In 1991, a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigated charges that a Wackenhut executive, working for a consortium of oil companies, illegally spied on a whistleblower, former independent oil executive Chuck Hamel, exposing environmental damage caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill.[14]

Wackenhut and Miami-Dade[edit]

A dispute between Wackenhut and Miami-Dade Transit arose from allegations made by a former employee, who claimed that G4S Wackenhut over-billed Miami-Dade County for work not performed. As a result of the allegations of that lawsuit, the County ordered an audit of the contract in 2005. That audit was completed in 2009 and came up with an amount of estimated overbillings. In response, G4S Wackenhut filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging, among other things, that the audit’s findings were erroneous.[15]

In February 2010 the issue was resolved. Miami-Dade County commissioners approved a $7.5 million settlement agreement with Wackenhut Corp. to resolve the dispute. As part of the deal, Wackenhut can bid on future contracts and the county won’t use this case against it when considering Wackenhut’s bids.[16]

Anti-Nuclear Protests[edit]

Fingers were pointed at Wackenhut when it was revealed that anti-nuclear protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, had managed to cut through fences of one of the United States’ most protected nuclear facilities at Oak Ridge in Tennessee in July 2012.[17] Three activists broke into the US Government’s only weapons grade storage facility to paint graffiti and throw what they claimed was human blood on the walls.[17] The breach and lack of security at the site at the time was blamed upon the absence of key Wackenhut personnel in the previous few weeks; the plant manager and chief operating officer had retired 12 days prior to the incident.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Danish Firm Agrees To Buy Wackenhut: $570m Deal Ends S. Florida Family's Control". Sun Sentinel. 2002-03-09. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  2. ^ a b Chunovic, Louis (2010-04-07). "G4S Wackenhut rebrands as G4S". Government Security News. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  3. ^ "G4S Wackenhut President Drew Levine Explains Rebrand and Company Strategy". Government Security News. 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  4. ^ Contact Us." Wackenhut. Retrieved on July 6, 2010.
  5. ^ "Wackenhut planning new corporate headquarters in Jupiter". Palm Beach Post. 2009-10-15. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  6. ^ Fisk, Kiesling, Herbert Kiesling, and Thomas Muller (1978). "Private Provision of Public Services: An Overview". Urban Institute: 34. 
  7. ^ "G4S wins £85m multinational security contract". The Financial Times. 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  8. ^ "CBP Renews Southwest Border Transportation Contract". CBP.gov. 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  9. ^ DOJ (1998-11-06). "RESPONSE OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE COURT'S ORDER OF NOVEMBER 6, 1998". Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  10. ^ a b Greg Palast (1999-09-26). "Wackenhut's Free Market in Human Misery". Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  11. ^ "Officially changes name to The GEO Group, Inc.". GEO Group. 2003-01-04. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  12. ^ Mufson, Steven (2008-01-04). "Video of Sleeping Guards Shakes Nuclear Industry". Washington Post. pp. A01. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  13. ^ 28 Years Later, Justice For Slain Student
  14. ^ House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee (November 4, 1991). "Wackenhut Oversight Hearings". Proposition 1. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  15. ^ "Wackenhut Stands up to Miami-Dade: Security firm denies ripping off the county and fires back with a $20 million lawsuit.". Miami New Times. 2010-05-07. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  16. ^ "Wackenhut, Miami-Dade settle legal battle". South Florida Business Journal. 2010-02-18. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  17. ^ a b Kate Brannen (13 September 2012). "Hill flummoxed over anti-nuke nun". Politico. 
  18. ^ Paul C. Barton (12 September 2012). "Rep. Blackburn says Y-12 incident shows lack of Energy Dept. accountability". The Tennessean. 

Further reading[edit]

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