Security firm could not meet deadline for guards

Leaders of the Metro public transportation agency said Friday that a Florida-based security firm was not able to deliver enough trained security guards to meet deadlines in a MetroLink security contract.

So Metro and the Wackenhut Corp. agreed to part ways late last month, transit agency President Robert Baer told reporters after Friday's Board of Commissioners meeting. Metro had heretofore not shed much light on why the three-year, $13.1 million contract was terminated after only a few months.

"It was around the availability of personnel," Baer said. "The training of personnel. The certification. Licensing of personnel. Nothing deliberate. It was just a matter of logistics and timing. We thought that we had laid out a very specific, step-by-step game plan. There was some dispute about that."

Baer said there will be no financial penalty for ending the contract early.

Wackenhut spokesman Marc Shapiro said he could provide no further details on what led to the mutual agreement in late March.

Securitas Security Services will finish the three-year contract - and has already assumed responsibility in St. Clair County. Securitas, which unsuccessfully sought the contract that ultimately was awarded to Wackenhut, will honor its original bid price of $11.5 million.

Baer said Wackenhut is cooperating in the transition. Clarence Harmon, the former St. Louis mayor and police chief, is the St. Louis general manager for Wackenhut.

Meantime, Baer stressed that there have been no lapses in security. "That was not the issue," he said. "It was an issue of availability of people."