- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Virginia congressman is asking the Metropolitan Police Department whether it plans to forward to the U.S. attorney’s office the records of D.C. school security guards who withheld their criminal histories on license applications.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, requested the department’s plans in a letter to D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey.

The congressman’s inquiry follows a recent audit by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General of 30 school security officers. The audit found that D.C. police did not tell school officials or the private company employing the guards that four individuals did not disclose their criminal backgrounds.

“The [inspector general’s] report that a number of contracted security personnel have criminal records and have received inadequate training disturbs me,” Mr. Davis wrote last Friday.

In response to the audit, D.C. police officials have said they have begun to screen out ineligible security officers and have so far dismissed 10 guards who had criminal records.

Police officials did not respond to questions about Mr. Davis’ letter yesterday.

The police department’s security officer management branch oversees the licensing of more than 10,000 private security officers and investigators each year.

Under D.C. rules, applicants for such licenses are required to list their criminal histories, including convictions and nonconvictions. Two of the four guards who did not disclose their criminal backgrounds had felony convictions, the audit found.

One was convicted of passing out counterfeit money, and another was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon.

In his letter, Mr. Davis asked Chief Ramsey whether a person who fails to disclose his criminal history on a security officer license application is committing a crime.

“If so, should those false statements be further investigated for possible referral to the U.S. attorney for prosecution?” Mr. Davis asked the chief.

In a letter earlier this month to the inspector general’s office, Chief Ramsey said the department is scrutinizing applications for security officer licenses more closely, especially in schools.

“This more rigorous program of training and testing is already showing results,” he wrote.

New measures include reviewing a daily list of all security officers in the schools, Chief Ramsey said.

Chief Ramsey said recent screening has resulted in the dismissal of 10 security officers who had criminal backgrounds that included assault with a deadly weapon, larceny and cocaine distribution.

Ronald D. Stephens, executive director of the California-based National School Safety Center, said routine checks are a good step, but said they should have happened earlier.

“These are things that are just basic stuff,” Mr. Stephens said. “It’s a very basic process to go through.”

D.C. schools aren’t the only place where security guard screening has surfaced recently as an area of concern.

Earlier this month, an armed private security guard working for Hawk One Security Inc., which guards D.C. government and school system buildings, was arrested on armed robbery charges.

At the time, the guard, identified as Xavier Brooks, 34, also was wanted in connection with a domestic assault charge, according to records filed in D.C. Superior Court.

Mr. Brooks and his uncle robbed two persons in Northwest, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

In a separate case in Maryland, private security guard Aaron Speed, 21, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit arson in connection with the December 2004 fires at the Hunters Brooke development in Charles County. The arson caused about $10 million in damage.

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