Subcontractor for CTA’s new $30.9 million security contract has “inoperative” state license, officials say

A company subcontracted to provide guards for the Chicago Transit Authority’s recently announced $30.9 million private security initiative has an “inoperative” state security license because one of its key employees did not renew her state credentials in 2020, officials said.

CTA recently signed a contract with Action K-9 for “up to” 100 security guards and 50 canines per day to patrol train station turnstile areas, among other duties. In turn, Action K-9 subcontracted with First American Security for some guard services, the Chicago Tribune reported.

But a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Financial and Profession Regulation said First American “cannot operate” currently because its designated “licensee-in-charge” did not renew her personal state license in September 2020.

Anna Rakestraw, president and CEO of First American, is now in the process of reactivating her licensed private security contractor license. IDFPR’s spokesperson confirmed it “has received Ms. Rakestraw’s application to reinstate her license, which includes an application, $500 fee, and a [proof of insurance] form.”

Contacted by phone on Monday, First American’s vice president, Asberry “Tony” Rakestraw, said the company will have an active license before it puts “boots on the ground” for the CTA.

“CTA is quite comfortable,” Rakestraw said. “CTA is aware of the licensing process and where it is.”

“We are to stand down until such time as we get the green light,” Rakestraw continued. He predicted a news story about the company’s inoperative license status would “fall dead flat on its ass.”

A CTA spokesperson said it is aware of First American’s license status, and “we will continue to closely monitor the process and verify the necessary paperwork has been completed.” The CTA has not set a start date for the canine patrols, the spokesperson said.

Asked if First American is operating as a security company while its license is in inoperative status, Rakestraw replied, “Are you serious?” and added, “We are a legitimate company.”

He said questions about how many guards the company employs, their training, and where the company might hire guards to serve on the CTA were “none of your business.”

Rakestraw also suggested that a CWBChicago reporter end the call so Rakestraw wouldn’t have to hang up on the reporter. The phone line disconnected when the reporter asked again about how many guards the company employs and its training processes.

IDFPR’s records show that Asberry Rakestraw has a valid license to work as a private security contractor, but he is not First American’s designated contractor.

Action K-9 did not respond to telephone and email inquiries for this story.

Update August 30, 2022 — This afternoon, the license held by Anna Rakestraw was restored and the inoperative status on the First American Security Services agency license was moved to active status, according to an IDFPR spokesperson.

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