Bus rider suing private security company

by Jordan Green

City of Greensboro reCently renewed lankford ProteCtive serviCe’s ContraCt

Amember of the Latin Kings street organization has sued a private security company that holds a contract worth with the city of Greensboro $739,153 for negligence, assault and false imprisonment arising from a beating that took place at the Depot in downtown Greensboro last July. AGreensboro Human Relations Department report noted that security officer Byron Meadows struck Russell Kilfoil on the head, face and neck, causing the young man to fall backwards and lose his baseball cap during an altercation at a bus slip at the Depot on July 2, 2008. Meadows then took Kilfoil into his office for an interview. Another Lankford Protective Services security officer, Omar Mahoney, told human relations administrator Yamile Walker that when Kilfoil tried to write down the two officers’ names Meadows told him to throw the paper away. Meadows banned Kilfoil from the Depot, but did not complete an incident report as required by policy, Walker found. Meadows is a codefendant in the lawsuit. A district court judge found Meadows guilty of misdemeanor assault against Kilfoil in February. Kilfoil’s lawsuit, which was filed in June, alleges that Lankford Protective Services, “through its security cameras, was aware that defendant Meadows struck, stepped on, handcuffed, detained and damaged the personal property of plaintiff on July 2, 2008 without provocation or reason.” Chris Brook, a lawyer at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham who is representing Kilfoil, declined to comment on the lawsuit. The lawsuit goes on to state “that despite its awareness of defendant Meadows’ July 2, 2008 conduct and its illegality, defendant LPS failed to sufficiently investigate and discipline said conduct.” The lawsuit also alleges that Meadows completed the required incident report only after the human relations department began its investigation, based on a complaint filed by Kilfoil. The company’s chief operating officer told YES! Weekly last December that Meadows had shown leniency to Kilfoil. “He should have taken Mr. Kilfoil to jail is what he should have done,” Sam Lankford said. “But he gave Mr. Kilfoil a break and tried to work with him. Any time you have to put your hands on someone, that results in an arrest. Officers Meadows trying to work with Mr. Kilfoil is how we got to where we are today.” The lawsuit notes that after July 2, 2008, Lankford Protective Services continued to employ Meadows, but the officer was limited to part-time work. In December 2008, then City Manager Mitchell Johnson banned Meadows from working at city facilities. Awoman who answered the telephone at Lankford Protective Services’ Greensboro office declined to state whether Byron Meadows remains employed with the company. She said the company would have no comment on the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that Meadows’ continued employment with Lankford Protective Services constitutes a ratification by the company of its employees’behavior, and that the company’s “failure to sufficiently investigate and discipline” Meadows’ conduct amounts to a breach of its responsibility “to provide professional and competent supervision.” Dale Dillon, a procurement administrator for the city of Greensboro, said Lankford Protective

Services was paid $739,153 by the city for its security services. The company provides security at several city facilities, including the Melvin Municipal Office Building, the Depot, the Central Library, the Greensboro Cultural Center, the Greensboro Historical Museum, the Greensboro Transit Authority, the Greensboro Sportsplex, the Ed Kitchen Building, the Hugh Medford Service Center and the Dorothy Bardolph Building. Lankford Protective Services recently submitted the lowest bid for hourly pay among three companies contending for the contract in all but two job classifications. Wackenhut and Allied-Barton also bid on the contract. Interim City Manager Bob Morgan elected to renew Lankford Protective Service’s contract. “We looked at their overall performance of the contract and looked at the other potential security providers,” Morgan said, adding that Security Director Michael Speedling exercises “tight control over disciplining people we’re not happy with.” “We felt we could get overall better security through staying with Lankford based on our evaluation of the other proposals,” Morgan said.