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Security Firm Found Lacking Back in Schools

The District dumped Watkins Security from its contract to safeguard D.C. public schools in 2005 after an inspector general's report found that it was overpriced, underqualified, ineffective and employed some guards with criminal records. It awarded a new contract to Hawk One.

Turns out Watkins is back, this time as a subcontractor to U.S. Security Associates, one of the two firms hired to replace Hawk One, which went belly up in October. Watkins is supplying security for at least some of the District's "Cluster 3" schools which include most of its elementary buildings. A guard with a Watkins patch was seen Wednesday at Langdon Education Campus, a pre-K through 8 school in Northeast.

Watkins president Richard A. Hamilton Sr. declined Thursday to discuss the details, referring all questions to U.S. Security Associates, which did not return phone messages.

"I don't want to get into opening old wounds," Hamilton said. "I don't need any adverse publicity. I want to go about my business."

MPD spokesman Kevin Palmer said he had no information on how Watkins ended up as a subcontractor. "We weren't at the table," he said, referring questions to the office of contracting and procurement.

In series of reports on school security by the inspector general's office in 2004 and 2005, it concluded that DCPS wasted as much as $8.8 million by awarding the three-year, $45 million contract to Watkins in 2002. It said that the company was the most expensive, yet least qualified, among several bidders.

The inspector general faulted Watkins for high rates of absenteeism among its guards. Another report was critical of the police department, which cleared for work guards with arrest records for such crimes as possession of cocaine, assault and delivering counterfeit money.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  November 19, 2009; 2:36 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Well, here's another example of what's wrong with the District. They can't even keep contractors they fired from working for them. How do you fire a contractor and then have them be rehired as a subcontractor?

Posted by: Jimof1913 | November 19, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Jimof1913 you are so right. I think this too is apart of REEFORM or just plain old inexperience or "we don't really have a handle on what we are doing to reform this big old dinosaur of a school system."

What a mess! How safe and secure are the children and staff members now?

Posted by: shank2sb | November 19, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Not only is the old company back but the same security officers are there. They were there with Watkins, Hawk One and now again with Watkins. Nothing changes! When will they escort Rhee to the curb? When will the books get audited? When will the anti-deficiency be addressed?

Posted by: candycane1 | November 19, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Are these the same guards that were escorting students to the their proms a few years back?!!! Some even went on senior class trips! Speechless! We need to throw the rascals (elected and appointed) out!

Posted by: hrhjcg | November 20, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Just shaking my head!!

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 20, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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