GREENSBORO - The city of Greensboro hires a private contractor to provide armed guards to patrol public facilities, but it doesn't consistently monitor that company or its guards.
A guard employed by Lankford Protective Services, a private security company , was struck and dragged by a car at The Depot on Sept. 21. On a busy weekday afternoon, the guard fired three shots as the car sped away.
The guard, Charles C. Sluder, lost a finger and was hospitalized.
It costs Greensboro less to contract with Lankford to provide security than to use city police officers to do the work.
The contract requires Lankford to perform criminal background checks on its guards, but the city hasn't asked to see the results .
Greensboro Deputy Chief Wayne Scott said the police department relies on Lankford to perform the background checks on its employees . The city can examine the results at any time, but it has chosen not to do so.
Lankford has provided guards for the city for more than five years. Scott said he doesn't know of any significant incidents involving Lankford's guards before Sept. 21 .
"I think we have 48 or 49 Lankford employees," Scott said. "They do relieve quite a bit of pressure off the city because they are quite a bit cheaper than paid officers.
"For us to do background checks on each of them for a contract would be too costly."
North Carolina has a state agency that licenses private security contractors and regulates the industry.
"The state of North Carolina certifies (guards) to carry that weapon," Scott said. "They are probably more closely monitored than any other security force."
It is unclear what rules and procedures are followed by the small agency charged with oversight of private security firms.
When first contacted, Anthony Bonapart, deputy director of the Private Protective Services Board, said he had never heard of Lankford, a 700-employee company that claims to be the largest of its kind in the state.
The board has seven investigators responsible not only for investigating such licensed companies throughout the state as Lankford, but also for investigating claims against unlicensed companies.
After reviewing records, though, Bonapart said the agency has "a lot of contact" with Lankford, which has to register employees with the board. However, he declined to answer questions about the company's record with the state.
In a subsequent email, the agency asked for specific written questions from the News & Record.
Lankford personnel did not returned multiple calls from the News & Record last week.
According to its contract with Greensboro, Lankford provides security for eight city buildings
: the J. Douglas Galyon Depot, the Greensboro Cultural Center, the Dorothy Bardolph Building
, the Melvin Municipal
, the Greensboro Transit Authority, the Hugh Medford Service Center, the Sportsplex
and the Greensboro Historical Museum.
The agreement costs the city $1.45 million a year and runs through June 2013.
The Greensboro Police Department's criminal investigations division reviewed the Sept. 21 incident at The Depot, the city's downtown transportation center, and determined that no more charges would be filed beyond those already brought against the driver of the car that struck Sluder.
Investigators said they will share their findings about Sluder, the guard who fired his handgun, with his employer.
"We are going to discuss his actions that day with Lankford Security. Any action they take will be up to them," police Lt. Karen Walters said.
Greensboro police take specific actions after an officer is involved in a shooting. It is not known what procedures are in place at Lankford or how often employee background information is checked.
A News & Record records search showed that Sluder had been charged with driving while impaired and carrying a concealed weapon in 2008. Both charges were misdemeanors. Sluder lost his driver's license for 30 days. He was also placed on probation for one year.
Sluder could not be reached for comment .
Contact Joe Gamm at 373-7090 or joe.gamm @news-record.com
nThe state regulates security contractors such as the one Greensboro pays $1.45 million a year.