Washington D.C. officials are looking into commandeer their own school security after running into continual problems with contracting companies, according to an article from The Washington Examiner.
The District's auditor estimated Tuesday that 291 full-time guards would cost the city $11.4 million a year – less than the $18 million annual contract held by U.S. Security Associates, which provides personnel at city buildings and public schools, the article says. Securitas USA also holds a contract to patrol the public schools.
But cost is not the primary reason that the District has opened the bidding process for next year, The Examiner reports. Undercover D.C. police officers were able to repeatedly sneak bombs into local government buildings, according to a memo first obtained by the Service Workers Employees International Union.
One incident in October 2010 is especially unnerving, as recruits took a "simulated cellphone bomb" past security officers at X-ray machines at two entrances to the John A. Wilson Building, where both the major and D.C. Council work, the article says.
Between July 2010 and June 2011, police and recruits documented more than a dozen potential security breaches.
Before U.S. Security Associates and Securitas USA were brought in, the District had more trouble with security. Hawk One, fired in 2009, filled city buildings' schools with poorly supervised, inadequately trained employees who failed to contain violence and tended to fraternize with students, officials told The Washington Examiner at the time.
The District's auditor, Yolanda Branche, reviewed the merits of contracting out, and she reported Tuesday with the cost of paying hourly wages and benefits to 291 guards. The District would hire 269 guards who could not make arrests and 22 who could. None would carry firearms.
The $11.4 million price tag likely would increase with associated costs, such as equipment, training, drug testing and background checks, the article says. The District is expecting to make a decision about the contract in June.
Confidence in schools' security guards varied widely on student surveys across D.C. high schools last school year. At Cardozo Senior High School, 44 percent of students said their security officers do a good job patrolling their campus; 84 percent of students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School said the same, according to The Examiner.