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
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]

G4S provides security to specific government and corporate sectors: energy, utilities, and chemical/petrochemical, financial institutions, hospitals and healthcare facilities, major corporations and the construction industry, ports and airports, residential communities, retail and commercial real estate and transit systems.[7]

Clients include: GSK[8] and U.S. Customs and Border Protection[9]

G4S acquisitions in the U.S.[edit]

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

Wackenhut Corrections (now GEO Group)[edit]

Main article: GEO Group

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.

Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC) was incorporated as a Wackenhut subsidiary in 1988. In July 1994, WCC became a separately traded public company.[10]

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."[11] U.S. journalist Gregory Palast commented on that and other cases. He wrote, "New Mexico's privately operated prisons are filled with America's impoverished, violent outcasts — and those are the guards."[12] Palast 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, largely resulting from prisoners' claims of human rights abuses.[12] The company was accused of trying to maximize profits in its private prisons at the expense of drug rehabilitation, counseling and literacy programs. In 1995 Wackenhut was investigated for diverting $700,000 intended for drug treatment programs at a Texas prison.

In 2003, WCC management raised funds to repurchase all common stock held by G4S, changing its name to The GEO Group, Inc.[10] 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.

Nuclear services at Peach Bottom (2008)[edit]

The Wackenhut Corporation provided armed security services for many nuclear power plants. In September 2007, its employees Kerry Beal and Paul A. Kennedy videotaped their 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 about the breaches of security. Wackenhut's contract was terminated, ending its role guarding Peach Bottom and nine other nuclear plants.[13]

Wackenhut and Miami-Dade[edit]

A dispute between the Wackenhut corporation and Miami-Dade Transit arose from allegations made by a former employee. Michelle Trimble claimed that G4S Wackenhut over-billed Miami-Dade County for work that had not been 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.[14]

In February 2010, the issue was resolved: and Miami-Dade County commissioners approved a $7.5 million settlement agreement with Wackenhut to resolve the dispute. The settlement deal had $3 million going to the county, $1.25 million for whistle-blower Trimble, whose lawsuit led the county to launch its own audit, and $3.25 million going to Trimble's attorneys. As part of the deal, Wackenhut was allowed to bid on future contracts and the county agreed not to use this case against it when considering Wackenhut’s bids.[15]

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.[16] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Omar Mateen[edit]

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, who worked at G4S from 2007 until his death, committed the largest mass shooting in United States history. Though Mateen's employment as an armed guard only slightly facilitated his access to firearms, and the firearms refresher courses he took each four years at G4S suggested more substantial training on his own,[18][19] the company's inability to detect prior warning signals brought it under widespread scrutiny.[20]

Screening issues[edit]

Under Florida state law, for him to work as an armed guard the company was required either to make a full psychiatric evaluation of Mateen, or to administer a "validated written psychological test".[21] The test administered was the updated Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2), a test used for job screenings and court cases requiring those subjected to it to agree or disagree with statements such as "My soul sometimes leaves my body" and "Once in a while I think of things too bad to talk about."[21] Carol Nudelman, the psychologist listed on the character certification submitted by G4S to the state[22] said she stopped working for the company in 2005 and denies ever having met him.[23] G4S said this was a "clerical error" and that the test results were evaluated by another psychologist, who had not actually met Mateen, but who was working for the company that bought out Nudelman's practice.[21] The Florida Department of Agriculture fined G4S $151,400 after it found the psychologist whose opinion was necessary to permit Mateen to carry a weapon was not practicing as a screener. Between 2006 and 2016, 1,514 forms were submitted erroneously listing Nudelman’s name.[24]

The company was unaware of Mateen's sealed and expunged juvenile arrest record for misdemeanor battery.[21] Although they verified his employment[25] they took Mateen at his word that he was fired as a Florida corrections trainee for failing to report due to a fever. He was actually dismissed for skipping classes, falling asleep in class, and asking two days after the Virginia Tech shooting if a classmate would tell if he brought a gun to class.[21] Also during his time as a trainee, a fellow trainee said he threatened to kill everyone at a barbecue after his hamburger touched a piece of pork, and he was escorted from the property.[26]

The St. Lucie County Courthouse was guarded by Omar Mateen in 2013. Following his investigation by the FBI, G4S transferred him to guard a gated community in Palm Beach.

In 2010, Mateen was videotaped while working security for G4S at a site related to the BP oil spill.[27][28] His cynical description of the work situation was included in the 2012 documentary, The Big Fix.[29]

Working with Mateen at the St. Lucie County Courthouse in 2013, a co-worker said he had complained to superiors at G4S about Mateen’s frequent violent, racist and homophobic tirades, but that the company ignored him.[30] G4S denied having a record of those complaints.[31] After Mateen claimed to his co-workers a family connection to Al Qaeda and said he was a member of Hezbollah, the county sheriff's office called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[32] The St Lucie Sheriff's office "demanded" Mateen no longer provide security for the Courthouse.[33] When G4S became aware the FBI was investigating Mateen, they did not dismiss Mateen but transferred him to the south guardhouse of the PGA Village, a gated community in Palm Beach County.[34][35][36]

On September 10, the company was fined $151,400 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for providing inaccurate psychological testing information on more than 1,500 forms over a ten-year period, which allowed employees to carry firearms. Mateen's form was among those investigated.[37]

Contract reviews[edit]

Judges at two Treasure Coast courthouses that had been guarded by Mateen requested that G4S be replaced by sheriff's deputies. At $377,000 and $86,000 respectively, the G4S contracts for St. Lucie and Indian River were cheaper by margins of $200,000 and $60,000 than the deputies.[38]

The PGA Village board voted unanimously to review a $1 million annual contract with G4S and consider other vendors after the sale of a resident's home was cancelled by a purchaser who learned that Mateen had patrolled the community.[39]

On June 22, Massachusetts Senator Kathleen O'Connor Ives called it "crazy and beyond ironic" in light of Mateen and other scandals to replace members of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority police union with G4S to guard the transit agency's money room. The $400,000 contract with G4S was just more than half the cost of MBTA Transit Police, who had been replaced June 6 after security lapses were reported by outside experts.[40]

Senator Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, demanded that the Department of Homeland Security probe why Mateen was somehow able to clear a required background check in order to hold a security officer position with a federal contractor. Writing in late June to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Tester pointed to "clear and troubling signs that Mateen's screening as an employee at G4S was inadequate." This was of particular concern to him given the company's work with DHS, that included a recent $234 million contract from DHS, involving in Customs and Border Protection operations along the southern border and aiding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with immigrant transfers. G4S contracted previously with the military, as well as the State, Justice and Energy Departments, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.[41]

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 & Thomas Muller (1978). "Private Provision of Public Services: An Overview". Urban Institute: 34. 
  7. ^ Shall we play a game?, Financial Times, Jane Bird, January 13, 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  8. ^ "G4S wins £85m multinational security contract". The Financial Times. 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  9. ^ "CBP Renews Southwest Border Transportation Contract". CBP.gov. 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  10. ^ a b "Historic Milestones". GEO Group. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  11. ^ DOJ (1998-11-06). "RESPONSE OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE COURT'S ORDER OF NOVEMBER 6, 1998". Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  12. ^ a b Greg Palast (1999-09-26). "Wackenhut's Free Market in Human Misery". Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  13. ^ Mufson, Steven (2008-01-04). "Video of Sleeping Guards Shakes Nuclear Industry". Washington Post. pp. A01. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ "Wackenhut, Miami-Dade settle legal battle". South Florida Business Journal. 2010-02-18. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  16. ^ a b Kate Brannen (13 September 2012). "Hill flummoxed over anti-nuke nun". Politico. 
  17. ^ Paul C. Barton (12 September 2012). "Rep. Blackburn says Y-12 incident shows lack of Energy Dept. accountability". The Tennessean. 
  18. ^ Frances Martel (2016-06-23). "Gun Instructor: Omar Mateen Was 'Basically a Perfect Shot'". Breitbart. 
  19. ^ "Orlando Shooter Labeled 'Expert Marksman': Report". Trunews. 2016-06-22. 
  20. ^ Eric Schlosser (2016-06-27). "The Security Firm That Employed the Orlando Shooter Protects American Nuclear Facilities". New Yorker. 
  21. ^ a b c d e David Ovalle (2016-06-27). "Orlando shooting sharpens scrutiny on screening of security guards in Florida". McClatchy/Security Info Watch. 
  22. ^ "Security firm G4S under scrutiny over mistakes on psychological report for Orlando shooter". South China Morning Post. 2016-06-18. 
  23. ^ Mike Parks, ed. (2016-06-23). "Vetting Against the Odds". STRATFOR. 
  24. ^ Report: Gardens employer of Pulse nightclub shooter fined $150k, Palm Beach Post, September 10, 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  25. ^ Orlando shooting sharpens scrutiny on screening of security guards, Miami Herald, David Ovalle, June 15, 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  26. ^ Berzon, Alexandra; Emshwiller, John R. "Orlando Shooter Was Dismissed From Academy Over Gun Inquiry, State Says". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 27, 2016. (subscription required (help)). Susanne Coburn Laforest, a 61-year-old retired corrections officer and former classmate of Mateen, said he threatened to shoot his classmates at a cookout—which she said was held on a gun range—after his hamburger touched pork, in violation of Muslim laws. 
  27. ^ "The Big Fix". A YouTube video clip was used for purposes of discussion to establish the man's identity. 
  28. ^ "Documentary Footage Shows Omar Mateen In 2010". Sky News. June 15, 2016. 
  29. ^ Mauney, Matt (June 15, 2016). "2012 documentary shows Omar Mateen working security during BP oil spill". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  30. ^ Former coworker complained multiple times, Los Angeles Times, Molly Hennessey-Fiske, June 16, 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  31. ^ ‘Clerical error’ on Orlando killer’s psychological eval named wrong doctor,Miami Herald, David Ovalle, June 17, 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  32. ^ Christian Davenport; Drew Harwell. "Orlando shooter's firm ran two background checks on him, it said, and found nothing". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 June 2016. Mateen had made statements to his coworkers that “were inflammatory and contradictory,” Comey said. He claimed a family connection to Al Qaeda and said he was a member of Hezbollah, a bitter enemy of the Islamic State. He said he hoped law enforcement would raid his apartment and assault his wife and child, so he could martyr himself, Comey said. 
  33. ^ "FBI agent did not think Orlando gunman Omar Mateen would 'go postal' in 2013". UPI - United Press International. 19 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016. high-level St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office official demanded Mateen be transferred out of the courthouse because "sufficient, reasonable belief has been established that there is a probability for security to be compromised at his current location." 
  34. ^ Nicholas Nehamas, Kyra Gurney, David Ovalle and Julie K. Brown (2016-06-12). "Omar Mateen: Portrait of America's deadliest mass shooter". Miami Herald. 
  35. ^ Nicole Rodriguez (2016-06-15). "Exclusive: PGA Village residents want answers from security firm". TCPalm. 
  36. ^ BARRY, Dan; KOVALESKI,, SERGE F.; BLINDER, ALAN (18 June 2016). "'Always Agitated. Always Mad': Omar Mateen, According to Those Who Knew Him". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2016. In 2013, G4S removed Mr. Mateen from his security post at the St. Lucie County Courthouse after he had made “inflammatory comments” about being involved somehow in terrorism. 
  37. ^ Klayman, Ben (September 10, 2016). "Security firm that employed Orlando club killer fined for inaccurate forms". Yahoo! News. Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  38. ^ George Andreassi (2016-06-27). "Investigation: Judges on Florida's 'Treasure Coast' want G4S security guards removed from courthouses". McClatchy/Security Info Watch. 
  39. ^ Bridget Johnson (2016-06-29). "Exclusive: PGA Village reconsiders contract with G4S Security". TCPalm. 
  40. ^ Matt Murphy. "Senator alarmed by MBTA's hiring of security company". Salem News. 
  41. ^ Senator to DHS: How Did Omar Mateen Pass Employment Check with Federal Contractor, PJ Media, Bridget Johnson June 29, 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.

Further reading[edit]

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