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.
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