The repercussions following the terrorist activities of Sept. 11, 2001, are still be felt more than four years later. Many businesses recognized the need for improved security, but the legal liability fallout has kept many security companies from providing services to some high-profile targets.
A recently awarded U.S. Department of Homeland Security designation provides Wackenhut Corp. a measure of security against lawsuits, which could put any operation out of business in the event of a major terrorist attack.
Wackenhut is the first, and to date, the only security organization to be granted coverage under the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technology Act (the SAFETY Act) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“For the Wackenhut Corp., it’s probably the single biggest achievement that we’ve ever received,” says Gary Sanders, chairman and CEO of the company. “We applied for and were awarded this designation, meaning our company has passed the test of the department of Homeland Security, and with passing that scrutiny, we’re able to take on work that we may have shied away from in the past because of the liability issues of the terrorist act.”
The federal government, recognizing that such liability could diminish the research, development, sale and use of anti-terror technologies and services, passed the SAFETY Act as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
“It was just too dangerous to take on clear terrorist targets (port security, airport-related security, cruise lines, etc.) without some sort of protection that the federal government has offered us,” Sanders says. “What we understand this designation does for Wackenhut is allows us basic indemnity from any acts of terrorism, whether they be terrorism from abroad or even domestic terrorism. That indemnity also extends to our clients. Obviously, it’s up to our clients to determine, but I think it’s a huge benefit.”
Wackenhut earned the designation after careful scrutiny of its policies. The Homeland Security Department examined how the company hires and screens employees, trains and manages them.
“Being one of the first, and to this date, the only security guarding company in the United States that has this certificate is just a huge accomplishment,” Sanders says. “It also includes our investigative group with a certificate that was awarded about a month later.
“It could bode very well for future business because as clients learn about this, they’re going to realize the value and hopefully choose Wackenhut for that and other reasons.”