- Associated Press - Monday, December 21, 2015

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard base in Ketchikan has been operating with tighter security after officials approved a $2 million contract with a Virginia-based company to provide armed security officers.

The Coast Guard approved the two-year contract with Linxx Global Solutions, which specializes in training and security at the federal level. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chad Lawler said armed gate guards have been staffing the base’s two entrances since October, The Ketchikan Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1IiP7Tz).

The Ketchikan base was the Coast Guard’s only base in the country that didn’t have private security before the contract was approved, Lawler said. Bases are different than Coast Guard stations, one of which is also located in Ketchikan.

The base had been trying to secure a contract for the past decade, but funding for security had stalled with “everything that’s been going on in the world in the past 18 months,” Lawler said. But the money for security in Ketchikan was finally approved.

Lawler said Ketchikan residents can expect tighter security at the base to become “the new norm.”

Visitors to the base are required to be sponsored by an active duty member and to have their name listed with the base.

“I would say we were a little bit lenient on this list for a while,” Lawler said. “We’ve had to really crack down and have 100 percent accountability for who’s on base and the amount of time they’re going to be on base.”

Ten of the 13 people hired for the contract in Ketchikan are from the area, according to Seamus Flatley, the chief business development officer for Linxx.

“We start with the local community,” Flatley said of the company’s hiring process, “based on the requirements the government provides us.”

Both the company and its employees on the base are licensed by the State of Alaska. Employees must undergo a training process before they are determined fit to be on duty.

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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