KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- FOX4 Problem Solvers first reported training and licensing concerns with Force One Security in Overland Park last Tuesday. Since then, this story has been like a snowball rolling downhill. As we uncover more, the snowball gets bigger and bigger.
Friday, we told you about Kevin McNiese, a former Force One security officer. He said he was instructed by owner Lemont Semien to carry a gun on duty, even though he was not licensed through the KCMO Police Board of Commissioners to do so.
“I was not commissioned while I was at Force One. I asked several times about getting commissioned and was actually told I was at a post that would not be checked," McNiese said. “When I moved to patrol, I was told not to engage in anything. That way P.D. would not have a reason to check my commission."
Tamy Gallagher is the manager of KCPD’s Private Officer Licensing Unit, which processes applications for private security officers. She says the city has very strict guidelines, which are in place for a reason.
There are two types of security licenses, armed and unarmed.
All applicants must pass a background check and pass a written exam. Armed security officers must pass a firing range test with KCPD firearm instructors every year.
“So, I make sure that the card that they are issued that the Board of Police Commissioners gives them, that we are signing off that these people are actually qualified to carry a firearm," Gallagher said.
Nathan Garrett is the president of the KCMO Board of Police Commissioners that oversees private security companies in Kansas City. He became aware of our story and considers it a public safety issue.
“If they are employing people or putting people out there who are not qualified or authorized, licensed to do it, that is a concern,” said Garrett. “That is a law enforcement concern.”
Semien finally replied to FOX4’s several requests for an interview with an emailed statement that reads:
"On behalf of Force One Security, we thank you for reaching out with regard to the interviews of past employees conducted by Fox 4 News. At this time, we do not wish to grant an interview on the subject out of consideration and respect for the privacy of all parties involved. However, we issue the following statement in response to the statements of the past employees regarding the training of Force One Security Officers. Officer and community safety is the most important and essential part of our company. Every employee that is employed on site in Kansas City, MO is required to attend training through the City of Kansas City, Missouri. This training includes a classroom component as well as a written exam. Additional firearms training through the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department is required for all armed officers. All armed employees are to undergo annual firearms training as well as on the job training in the field. Each year, all employees must also be recertified through the Kansas City, Missouri Private Officer Commission Board. At this time we ask that all media respect the privacy of the company our employees and not seek any further interviews or statements at this time."
Under the Missouri Sunshine Law, Problem Solvers requested the Force One Security file with KCPD Private Officers Licensing Unit and found that the company has been on probation for most of its time in business for not following the rules.
Force One was granted its security license in KCMO in January 2103, and almost immediately put on a year probation when it was discovered the company had been operating in the city limits without a license.
In 2015, the company was fined $500 and placed a two-year probation after a Force One security guard was caught working at President Garden Apartments without a license.
Two years later, in 2017, Force One was fined $1,000 and put on an additional two-year probation after two more of its security officers were caught working without licenses. One of them was armed.
Just one year after that, in July 2018, Force One was fined $5,000 and put on five-year probation after two of its security officers shot a man sitting in his car on the street near Yum Yum's Bar and Grill at 24th and Hardesty.
Force One security officers Markell Perkins and Christopher Jones, who, at the time were working security at Yum Yum’s, are now are charged with second-degree murder because the shooting happened on a city street and not in the property they were contracted to protect. In addition, Jones did not have a license to carry a firearm.
“That’s a concern, that`s a major concern and we want to make sure that the people who employ them know that we care about it,” said Garrett. “We are alerted to it, we are on to it, we are discussing it. Don`t do it in our city, don`t do it at all, but don`t do it in our city, that`s for sure.”
Since Problem Solvers has brought this issue to light, Commissioner Garret said the Board of Police Commissioners plans on taking up the matter at its next meeting September 14.