Complaints of Unprofessional Work Cause Replacement of Residential Guards in Florida

Following complaints that the town of Golden Beach, Fla.'s security guards were sloppy and unprofessional, the company that mans the guardhouse at the town's entrance has hired a new crew.

Five new guards were in place Monday, said Nick Navarro, owner of Navarro Security, the Fort Lauderdale-based firm that took over the town's security services in May. Though the town has a police force, the guards serve as an extra level of security at the town's entrance and are charged with keeping a record of nonresidents who enter the high-end community.

At a Sept. 21 Town Council meeting, some council members griped that the security guards were not performing all of the required tasks outlined in the company's contract with the town, including recording license plate numbers of any nonresidents who enter the community. Some said the guards looked unprofessional, with their shirts untucked and their feet up on the desk. Some added they would find the guards asleep.

'In the homeowners' eyes, they have been very unprofessional and they are not doing the job description that was given to them,'' Councilman Glenn Singer said in a telephone interview.

In an e-mail response to Herald questions, Town Manager Bonilyn Wilbanks-Free said that at the request of council, she spoke with Navarro about problems with the guards before the complaints were brought up at the council meeting.

Navarro said the original crew working for the town was only temporary until he could find qualified people to permanently fill the positions.

''Everyone that I am sending has a background in military and law enforcement,'' he said of the new guards. ``I think the town deserves it.''

Before the town hired Navarro, town employees manned the guardhouse. However, the council decided it wanted a professional guard service, Wilbanks-Free said.

''The cost savings and the contractor's commitment to produce a professional guard service for the town was the deciding factor,'' she said of Navarro's selection. Golden Beach is paying $139,000 for the services.

''We are professionals,'' Navarro said. ``We have some very highly sensitive accounts that have a lot of responsibilities and we fill those responsibilities without a problem.''

Kirk Buffington, director of Procurement Services for the city of Fort Lauderdale, said the city has used Navarro's firm for about eight years and has not had any problems with the company. The company usually provides guards to man the city's executive airport.

Singer said since the new crew started Monday, he has noticed a big difference in the service.

''Thus far it has been a major change,'' he said Wednesday. ``It looks like they brought in a different caliber of workers. They look a lot more trained.''