Update June 6, 12:39 p.m. — The mayor’s office has issued a statement saying “more than 100 private security guards” are being hired through Monterrey Security and two other firms. “All security officers will wear visible identification” and none will be armed, according to the statement. The patrols will cost $1.2 million, the mayor’s office said.
The city will pay to have 500 private security officers patrol Chicago neighborhoods this weekend — mostly on the South and West Sides, according to aldermen who were briefed on the plan late Friday.
Incredibly, a guard who was working for one of the contracted firms was accused of killing a suspected shoplifter by kneeling on the man’s neck outside a Walmart on the Northwest side in 2017. That’s exactly how a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd two weeks ago, leading to widespread protests, riots, and looting. The guard, who was working for Monterrey Security, told police he was a full-time law enforcement officer. He wasn’t and he didn’t even have a PERC card, the most basic license needed to work as an unarmed security guard in Illinois, according to state records.
Monterrey, a politically-connected firm, has been investigated for operational irregularities in at least two states.
Alderman Daniel La Spata (1st) tweeted his concerns about the plan, including the fact that private guards have “no names or badge numbers on their uniforms so accountability will be very difficult.” La Spata called the plan “troubling in almost every way.”
Monterrey, which once boasted of being the security contractor for Lollapalooza, Navy Pier, the Chicago Marathon, and nearly every Chicago major league sports team, has been hit with a series of high-profile allegations in recent years.
- In 2018, two Monterrey guards who were hired to protect Holy Name Cathedral were charged with stealing up to $100,000 from the landmark church at 730 North Wabash. Prosecutors said the two men used a key to enter the church and then accessed a safe multiple times over several weeks.
- In 2017, the company lost its contract with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings over “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of personnel problems. State regulators then revoked Monterrey’s license to operate in the state. Among other things, Monterrey was accused of hiring people with criminal records to work as guards and providing insufficient training. Initial allegations also included “potential overbilling, double-billing, or ghost payrolling,” the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reported.
- One month after the Minnesota allegations emerged, the NFL’s Buffalo Bills fired Monterrey because New York state rejected the company’s license application.
- The Chicago Cubs dumped Monterrey Security at Wrigley Field in favor of Andy Frain Services in 2018.
Overall, private security guards are not required to display the name of the company they’re working for or who is paying for their services. There is no assurance that security workers are trained or even licensed. No agency oversees allegations of misconduct by private security guards. And, there’s no assurance that someone wearing a security uniform is working as security at all.
CWBChicago has repeatedly reported on illegal, questionable, and controversial practices by private security firms. In Lakeview, private security contractors have deployed non-police guards who dressed like Chicago cops.
A convicted felon and police impersonator was hired to patrol the Boystown bar district even though the state revoked his license to work as a guard. That man was rehired by the Boystown patrol after he received a probationary license from the state. He is now charged with sexually abusing a minor in Lake County.
In November, a private security guard shot and killed a man following a late night dispute outside Blue Light tavern in Roscoe Village. Police detectives sought murder charges against the guard, but the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office refused to pursue the case, police said at a community meeting about the shooting.
Also in November, 55-year-old Eugenio Escriba Guzman died while struggling with a security guard and other employees who tried to stop him for allegedly stealing toiletries from a Jewel-Osco in Lakeview. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled Guzman’s death a homicide.