Security Firm Let Go from Chicago Water-Filtration Plants

Surveillance cameras inside Chicago's two water-filtration plants have captured dozens of instances of private security guards sleeping on the job and abandoning their posts, City Hall sources said Monday.

Video evidence against Honor Guard Security was turned over to the city's Department of Procurement Services to support canceling its $13.3 million contract before the end of the month. The five-year contract was awarded in December.

Some of the digital photos have been shown to Honor Guard President William McCurdy. He reportedly responded by offering to get rid of individual employees. But that wasn't acceptable to city Water Management officials, who have been at loggerheads with Honor Guard since its employees showed up in April to staff more than 60 posts around the clock.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday that Honor Guard's unarmed employees have been yanked out of the city's two water-filtration plants amid concerns about safeguarding Chicago's drinking water.

"It's a chronic problem that doesn't get better. . . . There are stacks of examples of them not performing and sleeping on the job," said a source familiar with the investigation.

A company vice president said she felt the city never wanted Honor Guard to hold the contract and was being unfair in criticizing its employees' performance.

Although the firm won the Water Management work last year, its bids to guard less sensitive departments such as Animal Control and Cultural Affairs weren't accepted, public records show.

The company told the city it also held a contract with the state Department of Military Affairs to man six military installations with 110 security officers. And the firm said it provided the state Department of Children and Family Services with 47 security officers at 11 locations throughout Cook County from 2004 to 2005.

Surveillance cameras inside the filtration plants are monitored by Chicago Police officers at outside checkpoints. The images are also linked to the city's 911 emergency center.

Honor Guard was hired to provide security for several city departments, including Water Management, after submitting the low bid. That's even though Water Management officials ranked the company dead last among finalists. The $13.3 million contract is now being re-bid.