Ssshhh……Wackenhut might be sleeping.

What does size matter when it comes to chosing a security company? The big national companies with thousands on their payrolls would probably tell you it means everything, whilst a smaller firm like mine would tell you it can mean the complete opposite.

Take the case as reported in yesterday’sWashington Post involving a security guard by the name of Kerry Beal. Beal went to work for Wackenhut Corp., who provided the security guards to protect Peach Bottom nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. He was so disturbed by Wakenhut’s guards sleeping on duty that he reported it to supervisors. The supervisors told him to be a “team player”.

Not satisfied with being told to look the other way, Mr. Beal reported the matter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Commission dropped the matter after the plant’s owner, Exelon, said it found no evidence of guards sleeping on duty. It was not until he actually videotaped the sleeping guards and sent the tape to WCBS television in New York City that something was done. Exelon took action and fired Wackenhut.

There are so many things wrong with this story that it is impossible to single any one out. Obviously, a guard on duty who sleeps is the first problem. However, as the story unfolds, even scarier facts begin to surface. Wackenhut supervisors told the new guy to be a “team player”? Then the owners, Exelon, failed to take action but instead assisted in the cover-up. Oh yeah, did I mention that the facility was a NUCLEAR POWER PLANT?

Exeleon fired Wackenhut from 10 of their plants. Should we now sleep easier in our beds at night? Probably not. Considering the fact Wackenhut “protected” half of the 62 commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S., their recent firing still allows them to “protect” 21 plants.

After the dust settled a bit, Wackenhut made a statement to the effect that the entire nuclear industry needs to rethink security. Really Wackenhut? It sure sounds to me like you need to rethink security yourselves. If my employees were found sleeping on the job, they would have been automatically terminated and their supervisors with them. Maybe that’s the difference between the big and small security companies. The smaller companies seem to be more aware and concerned about their client’s needs.

I just hope that if the terrorists ever strike at our critical infrastructures like we know that want to, they will make plenty of noise if they attack at night. Who knows how deeply those Wackenhut guards sleep?

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