September 26, 2017 07:12 PM
The security company hired to protect U.S. Bank Stadium has been fired, just a few days before the Vikings are scheduled to take the field for a home game there.
SMG, the company in charge of overseeing the facility, terminated its contract Monday with Chicago-based Monterrey Security Company, based on findings from an investigation which showed the security company improperly classified employees.
“You don’t make decisions based on allegations. You make them based on facts. And we needed to make sure that the facts were dead on. They were. And the right decision was made,” said Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michael Vekich when asked why Monterrey Security remained with U.S. Bank Stadium while the audit was underway.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority officially announced the decision Tuesday.
“I think the message has to be really clear: The facility has been safe, is safe and continues to be safe. I have great confidence in that and in our new protective services,” said Vekich.
Two other companies will take over security operations. Those are G4S Secure Solutions, which has an office in St. Paul, and St. Louis-based Whelan Security.
The move comes with the Vikings scheduled to host the Detroit Lions in a home game Sunday. In a statement, the team said it reviewed the investigation's results and supports the change.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Board of Private Detectives and Professional Agency Services voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon not to renew Monterrey's license.
An investigation found Monterrey employees were providing security without proper training and without proper background checks having been conducted before hiring, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
This comes after reports state and federal investigators have been looking into allegations the company falsified government documents and hired people with criminal convictions.
There have also been allegations some employees with felony records did not receive proper security clearance.
The MSFA announced this summer it had hired a law firm to launch an internal audit of the company.
The Minnesota Board of Private Detectives and Professional Agency Services granted the Chicago-based firm contingency status, or a two-month extension on its license, this summer while state employees reviewed files to determine if there was any wrongdoing.
Monterrey submitted all required paperwork to the board just days before being up for renewal.
On Tuesday, the CEO of the company was grilled by the board about reportedly busing 100 or more people in from Chicago to work the Vikings' season opener against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 11. The board wanted to know if those workers were properly trained, or had proper background checks.
CEO Juan Gaytan testified the company had been working to resolve the issues.
"We've been operating in good faith to remedy any problems," he said. "The second we heard there was potential for wrong-doing we sought out a legal firm and started self audits.
"If the board gives us a directive and says these positions must be protective agents we will follow that. We are not trying to circumvent any rules.
"If there is a directive given to us we will follow it."
Gaytan said his company knows it has issues to address.
"Obviously we found issues we need to correct, regardless of our status at U.S Bank Stadium."
Of course, many Monterrey employees had done nothing wrong, yet were still let go when the company lost its contract. The new security firms said they are working to rehire as many Monterrey employees as they can while staying within the boundaries of state law.
These employees will be subject to drug and background checks before hiring.
A job fair is underway at U.S. Bank Stadium. That's where applicants are encouraged to apply.
The job fair will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, and again from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
Applicants are asked to enter the Verizon gate.
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Joe Augustine, Kevin Doran and Katherine Johnson
Updated: September 26, 2017 07:12 PM
Created: September 26, 2017 11:05 AM
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