Controversial security firm receives $284 million contract renewal from NYC

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FJC Security Services was allegedly involved in Jazmine Headley incident.

Controversial security firm receives $284 million contract renewal from NYC

FJC Security Services was allegedly involved in Jazmine Headley incident.
January 3, 2019

Bad press did not stop FJC Security Services, a controversial security firm, from a chance to get more than a quarter of a billion dollars in new business from New York City. On Wednesday, the firm received a contract renewal to provide “armed security guard services” on behalf of the city, according to the City Record. The three-year deal will place the company at the disposal of all mayoral agencies, which will pay for its services up to a maximum of $284 million overall.

The renewal comes despite the company being the subject of numerous lawsuits in recent years, including its reported involvement in the tumultuous arrest of 23-year-old Jazmine Headley, a Brooklyn woman who was thrown to the floor and had her 1-year-old son ripped from her hands by police following an incident in early December at a Human Resources Administration office.

Headley was sitting on the floor waiting to hear about how she could get her child-care benefits reinstated when she was confronted by a security guard at the Boerum Hill facility. She refused to stand up and police were called to the scene. A video of the confrontation showing officers yanking her body and her child sparked widespread outrage. Headley was arrested and spent five days on Rikers Island before charges against her were dropped.

According to a Daily News report at the time, “The NYPD says that HRA peace officers and members of FJC security staff who work at the facility forced her to the floor and then the NYPD tried to place her under arrest. FJC security, a private company that staffs some city shelters as well as HRA facilities, is already being probed for prior allegations of abuse.” A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio told City & State on Thursday that it was an HRA peace officer, not an FJC employee, who confronted Headley initially, saying that FJC employees were merely present in the facility at the time of the skirmish.

The episode was just the latest controversy involving FJC’s work providing security on behalf of the city. An investigation by the Daily News in 2018 found that in recent years 18 shelter residents and staff have sued FJC. The company is contracted by nonprofits who in turn contract with the city to operate most of the city’s homeless shelters. In some instances, FJC has been accused of providing substandard security services that allowed attacks to happen inside shelters. In other lawsuits, FJC security staff have been accused of directly attacking residents and staff, according to the Daily News. A spokeswoman for the California-based Allied Universal, which bought FJC in 2016, did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

In one instance, a guard at the Stockholm Family Shelter in Brooklyn allegedly sexually assaulted a female staff member. Another lawsuit asserted that FJC guards at the Barbara S. Kleinman Shelter in Brooklyn attacked a resident who they mistook for someone else.

Since then, some FJC staff have been fired over such incidents, and the city has promised to hold the company to a higher standard overall. "These allegations don't reflect our values and New Yorkers working hard to get back on their feet deserve better," Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for the Human Resources Administration, told the Daily News in May. "NYPD has also met with and will continue to meet with FJC to strengthen their protocols and improve security at the locations where they are deployed."

City contracts typically take months – and sometimes even longer – to make their way through the city procurements process, so the latest contract renewal for FJC was already well underway at the time of the Headley arrest. Despite its controversial history, the company was ultimately given a second chance, according to Jacqueline Gold, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which procured the contract on behalf of the city.

“FJC Security Services was required to put in place a corrective action plan for its work with the NYC Department of Social Services,” Gold said in an email, “in order for the $284 million renewal contract with the city to go forward.”

Whether individual agencies want to utilize the armed security services of the company is up to them, she added.

Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State and its sister publication, New York Nonprofit Media.
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