A licensed private investigator, and former Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy, Robert Hamic, tells me in this AUDIO INTERVIEW he’s aware of at least two dozen companies operating illegally in the Duke City. Hamic publishes the NM Security Blog, and suspects there are additional felons carrying weapons, wearing uniforms and carrying security badges.
Hamic says, “convicted felons posing as armed security guards threaten public safety” in the Duke City. He’s worried because New Mexico is a border state. He believes the public responds to security guards as authority figures, and he's been frustrated with the lack of rigorous enforcement by state regulators.
I checked with the NM Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department’s Superintendent Kelly O’Donnell to see if it’s a chronic problem. She confirms there are at least eight or nine on-going security company investigations. O’Donnell told me Tuesday in this AUDIO INTERVIEW, the firms can be fined up to $1000 dollars, but they only have two compliance officers assigned to monitor firms statewide. She says they run background checks on all guard applicants, but unlicensed companies simply don’t submit their guard’s names for review.
O’Donnell says they’ll start an aggressive outreach program to businesses and hopes to educate them on the critical need to confirm security companies license status. She says firms who contract security services must insist their providers be licensed by her department. If you have your provider’s security license number you may check it here.
The Superintendent also says it’s of upmost importance that armed security guards not appear to look like a law enforcement official. She tells us local police chiefs and sheriffs always have to approve private operator’s uniforms, badges and vehicles before they are issued a private patrol operator’s license.RENT- A - COP COMPANY OWNERS BUSTED.
In April, former Albuquerque Police Officer Filberto Baca, the founder of the Armed Response Team, and operator of several unlicensed security firms, was indicted on two fraud charges. Authorities charged him after discovering he may have forged a letter from RLD which assured clients he held the proper state licenses.
In May, Bobbie McMullin the former owner of the Ice House, a nude strip club, was busted for allegedly running a prostitution ring from his storefront security company called Integrated Technical Services.
Last week, the U.S Marshall and the state’s Fugitive Apprehension Team busted a con posing as an Armed Security Guard. Brad Simmerman has been on probation since 2005, and operated American Security Unlimited. Region II Manager of Special Programs for the NM Probation and Parole Division (PPD) Gary Carson tells me that Simmerman is back in jail and being held without bond.
Simmerman told his probation officer he was only on the board of a private security company, but failed to mention he was on armed patrol. He says they don’t want probationers working as security guards and they knew Simmerman was on patrol it would have sent red flags up.
As soon as the P.P.D. team was notified that Simmerman was carrying a firearm authorities developed a plan to re-arrest him. In this AUDIO INTERVIEW Carson says after entering Simmeran’s residence, agents found ammunition, deadly martial arts weapons, and vials of anabolic steroids. Agents believe the steroids were manufactured in Mexico. The drugs have been turned over to the D.E.A., but it is unclear who Simmerman was dealing the drugs for, but they suspect it may have been for a white supremacist group. The task force also found a Whizzanator in Simmerman’s home.Carson tells us probationers use this tool to cheat urine analysis tests. Carson says Simmerman was arrested without incident.
In 2006, the State Legislature enacted new rules for training security guards. O’Donnell told me they will begin rolling out those new procedures later this summer. The new rules are posted here.
Hamic says he’ll continue to monitor the industry on his blog and Jeremy Jojola plans a video report on Eyewitness News 4 next week.