|A Northalsted security guard (yellow vest) stands by as police officers handle a disturbance in Boystown on Pride Fest weekend in 2016. | Screengrab from video by DJ Tek
With Chicago’s Gay Pride celebrations just days away, the private security contractor in charge of patrolling Boystown for local businesses is operating with an expired license, according to a state official and online records.
Chicago police officer Thomas J. Walsh, owner of Walsh Security LLC, allowed his state-issued private security contractor license to expire on May 31, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website.
“There is no grace period for a lapsed license,” said a state official who asked to remain anonymous. “An individual may renew their license and pay a late fee, should they wish to restore their license.”
When Walsh’s personal license expired, the corporate license ran into trouble because state law requires the agency’s “licensee-in-charge”—Walsh—to be properly licensed as a continuing requirement for licensure, the official said.
Walsh’s guards—sometimes led by Walsh personally—have been patrolling Halsted Street’s bar strip regularly this month, despite the licensing issue.
This is not Walsh’s first brush with licensing issues. The Windy City Times reported that Walsh was providing security services to the Center on Halsted without state-mandated licenses in 2012.
We received state confirmation of Walsh’s expired license on Thursday and immediately contacted the Northalsted Business Alliance, the organizers of the Chicago Pride Parade, and 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney’s office to seek their input for this follow-up story. None responded to our emails.
The organizer of another Lakeview group that uses Walsh Security for patrols told residents in an email last week that ”Walsh has provided me with all of our officers [sic] professional licenses. They are all licensed by the State, as is Walsh.” We wrote to the group, known as BARR, to better understand exactly what they saw. No one responded.
Walsh previously stated that he could not comment for our reporting.
|The Illinois State Seal (center); a Walsh Security badge (left); and the logo from WalshSecurity.net (right)
Walsh Security has an even simpler, but no less important problem: Its corporate logo and the badges worn by some of its officers appear to be illegal.
Illinois—hoping to dissuade companies from making their guards look like cops—prohibits security firms from suggesting that they are part of a governmental entity.
They cannot have the words “police,” “sheriff,” or “law” or “enforcement” on their uniforms.
And they are barred from “using the Illinois State Seal on badges, company logos, identification cards, patches, or other insignia” to ensure that the public does not infer that security guards are officers of the state.
|The “uniforms” section of Illinois’ private security law is only 235 words long.
Walsh Security’s online logo and the embroidered stars worn by some Walsh Security officers both include the state seal as their centerpiece.
The badge issue is of particular interest since non-law enforcement officers have been seen sporting Chicago Police Department uniform pieces while patrolling our neighborhood.
In 2012, the Windy City Times’ report found that Walsh’s employees “frequently wear hats and sweatshirts that identify them as ‘Police'” while on patrol at the Center on Halsted, 3656 North Halsted.
The Chicago Police Department also prohibits its officers from wearing the CPD uniform while working secondary jobs: “Department members will neither represent themselves as a Chicago Police Officer nor wear the prescribed uniform during secondary employment without the written permission of the Superintendent of Police.”