The head of the D.C. police union said the city should have a professional make sure the prisoner cages installed in more than 300 police cars by an unlicensed company cant be kicked or broken open by drunken or violent prisoners.
Sgt. Gerald G. Neill was responding to a report published Friday by The Washington Times that revealed the installation work was done not by the citys official contractor — Serco Management Services Inc. — but by the son of a Serco official, who owns a company incorporated in Delaware.
The Metropolitan Police Department should never have allowed the official’s son to install the prisoner-containment cages, said Sgt. Neill, chairman of the MPD unions Labor Committee.
“I can only hope no officer or citizen is hurt,” Sgt. Neill said. “To have someone unlicensed install material in a car where officers and citizens have to ride is a heck of a liability we have to carry.”
The Washington Times reported that Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey has decided to seek new bids on the $3.5 million fleet-management contract awarded to Serco Management Services Inc. in August 1999. The chief has also ordered the departments Office of Professional Responsibility to include the $90,000 cage deal in its investigation of the Serco contract. The investigation had focused on why $300,000 of automobile parts were sold as junk.
Shortly after winning the contract to repair police cars, Serco began farming out work to American Logistics Management Services Inc. (ALMS), run by Jason Bergeron, the son of Serco Vice President Raymond Bergeron, according to documents obtained by The Times through the Freedom of Information Act.
The Times found that ALMS is incorporated in Delaware, but never registered in the District as a foreign corporation or with the city to pay business, sales and employees taxes. Jason Bergeron has been living at his parents Long Island, N.Y., home.
ALMS bills show the company collected sales taxes for work done in the city, but there were no records that the sales taxes were ever paid to the District.
The work ALMS did was supposed to be reserved for small, local minority and disadvantaged businesses. Council member Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat, said the police department should have hired a local business rather than allow Serco to subcontract the work to a relative who had little or no overhead and was not licensed to operate in the District.
“I do strongly believe in using local, minority and disadvantaged business or local businesses of any type, large or small,” said Mr. Brazil, who began looking at the Serco contract in 2000 when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “If they (local businesses) can provide a quality service at a fair price, the District businesses should get it.”
He also said that since ALMS charged about three times what Serco would have charged for the same work, Serco should be required to reimburse the city.
He said he is glad Chief Ramsey decided to rebid the contract, but he will take a careful look at the contract if Serco is selected to continue working on police cars.
“If it was rebid and Serco got it, I would look closely at it and ask what the reasoning was and to be sure followed all the procedures,” Mr. Brazil said.
Sgt. Neill said the departments attempt to privatize the fleet-maintenance contract has been a failure because Serco is more interested in making money than looking out for the interests of police officers.
“This is part of the continuing problem of trying to save money by privatizing and eliminating city jobs,” Sgt. Neill said. “This unit was historically run by city employees who know the needs of the police department best.”
ALMS billed Serco $90,000 for sticking on side decals and installing the wire cages in 311 police cars. The Metropolitan Police Department ended up paying $93,000 for the work.