Garden Grove is switching its jail security services from one private company to another.
On Tuesday night, the City Council approved a $1,815,556.69 three-year contract with G4S Secure Solutions USA, Inc., a large private security firm with offices in more than a hundred countries and a controversial past uncovered in a 2019 news investigation.
Starting in June 2000, the city had contracted GEO Group, Inc. to provide 24-hour jail booking services for the police department. Although the council renewed a three-year contract with that company in 2019, the police department received notice that GEO is ending jail operations in California and will terminate the contract on Nov. 1.
GEO is a private prison firm that owns and operates two ICE facilities, three prisons and two detention facilities in California. This year the state planned to end two contracts with GEO for two prisons after Assembly Bill 32, a law barring renewal of contracts with private prisons, went into effect on Jan. 1.
Lt. Brian Dalton of the Garden Grove Police Department said Tuesday, “On average it takes police officers approximately two hours to handle a prisoner through the entire booking process. Using the GEO contract services, this processing time has been reduced to approximately 15 minutes, allowing police officers to return to the field more quickly.”
Dalton also said over recent years the amount of crime has increased along with arrests made by the police department. In 2019, officers made 7,575 arrests for felony and misdemeanor crimes compared to 5,619 arrests in 2014.
Garden Grove city staff recommended “piggybacking” on the existing jail services contract between Westminster and G4S approved in March 2020.
G4S offered to hire the 10 current GEO employees working in Garden Grove’s jail located in the police department building at 11301 Acacia Parkway.
The 10 custody workers would have to pass an updated preemployment screening. According to a service document compiled by G4S, the screening includes identity verification through Social Security, a variety of criminal searches, a review of seven years of employment, unemployment or education, a driver’s license check, drug screening, a physical exam and a psychological evaluation. G4S is also responsible for annual training.
G4S activities include security for concerts, shopping malls, banks, prisons and healthcare facilities. The company’s career page shows about 17 jobs — mostly security, detention or custody officers — available across Orange County.
According to a G4S spokesperson, the company provides jail support services to 15 Southern California police departments throughout Los Angeles San Bernardino and Orange counties including local cities Irvine, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, Westminster and Costa Mesa.
“Our longest local partnership dates back to 1992 with the city of Irvine and the Irvine Police Department. G4S is proud to partner and support these communities with qualified security officers so local police forces can focus on public safety,” stated the G4S spokesperson through email.
USA Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigated the security company and published a report in late 2019 that found a pattern