Security companies can’t hire or deploy guards fast enough in and around Ferguson, Missouri, to the point where they are calling on the St. Louis County police to relax licensing rules as a grand jury decision on Darren Wilson is imminent. Meanwhile, some businesses are just boarding up their windows in preparation for another round of rowdy protests, or worse, should Wilson not be indicted for killing Mike Brown, as is widely expected.
The county police department isn’t doing away with the licensing requirements of security guards, but it is expediting applications, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Jon Belmar, the department’s chief, said there would be justified anger at the police if a private guard shot someone without being licensed.
“I’m reluctant to recommend a variance,” he told the paper. “If we have an issue of a security officer involved in an incident and someone gets hurt, certainly the question that can come back to us is, ‘You licensed this individual, did you follow your normal protocol?’ And our answer must be, ‘Yes.’”
Other businesses are not taking any precautions. "I want to be visible," Charles Davis, the owner of the Ferguson Burger Bar with his wife Kizzie, told St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK about why he didn’t board up his windows. "I just put my faith in God for nothing to happen."
AlliedBarton Inc., a Pennsylvania-based security company, wanted the department to let its guards work in the St. Louis area before fingerprint checks were completed, saying the process “limits our ability to provide our clients the increased coverage they requested during this time,” according to a letter obtained by the Post-Dispatch. A spokeswoman for the public relations company for AlliedBarton declined a interview Wednesday with International Business Times.
G4S Secure Solutions Inc., a Florida-based security company, asked that 350 security guards with licenses from other states be waived Missouri’s licensing requirements, according to the Post-Dispatch. The company, which reportedly has Wells Fargo, Bank of America, American Water and Trader Joe’s as clients, could not be reached for comment by International Business Times.
The requests by the two companies come as St. Louis braces for protests when the Wilson decision is announced, which, according to the St. Louis County prosecutor, can come at any moment. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency earlier this week that activated the Missouri National Guard, a decisions that angered Ferguson protesters who said the move indicated the governor doesn’t have faith that demonstrations will be peaceful. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is requesting 400 National Guard troops to patrol St. Louis.
Local businesses, which have been the targets of looting in the early days of protests when Brown was shot in August, boarded up their windows with plywood in preparation for demonstrations. A QuikTrip convenience store was burned to the ground shortly after the shooting, and some business owners fear what will happen if Wilson is not indicted.
Zisser Tire and Auto, a Ferguson business that had its windows smashed back then, boarded up its windows but is not hiring private guards. “We’re just going about our daily business as normal,” Mike Wood, a manager at the business, told Al Jazeera America. “We’re hanging out waiting to see what happens the second round. Business naturally goes down when you’re not open and when they close the streets down and you can’t come in to work.”