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Neronha seeks armed guard for AG’s Providence office

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha is looking to hire a private company to station an armed guard and a metal detector at his Providence headquarters.

According to a bid request document posted by the R.I. Department of Administration, the attorney general’s office is seeking a two-year contract “from security service companies to supply armed security personnel for The Office of Attorney General buildings,” which are located at 150 and 180 South Main St. in Providence.

The request for proposal, or RFP, does not mention the new customer service center on Howard Avenue in Cranston.

According to the document from the state, armed security personnel would be staffed during the day – from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. – and would “be posted inside the entrance of the Office of the Attorney General.” 

“A guard duty station will be provided with a desk area and chair inside the foyer area of the main entrance to 150 South Main Street,” the RFP states. “Security personnel will be responsible for working in conjunction with [office of the attorney general] employees, stationed at the reception area, to verify that all visitors have a confirmed appointment.”

The guard would be responsible for screening all visitors through a metal detector “installed adjacent to the guard’s duty station,” and would conduct periodic sweeps of the building.

“Upon award, the selected Vendor must be prepared to provide documentation of its employees’ authorization to carry firearms,” the RFP states.

Bid proposals will be accepted until May 22.

Kristy DosReis, a spokesperson for Neronha, said the request was not triggered by any specific threat or incident.

“As part of our review of all AG operational procedures, we examined our current security protocols and found that there was room for proactive improvement to the physical security of our offices, particularly 150 South Main Street,” DosReis said in an email.

“This improvement will simply bring our office in line with other state and federal government buildings and the courts, which have an armed security presence,” she said.

DosReis said they anticipate needing just one guard on the clock per shift.

Asked about the price tag, DosReis said her office “will not know the annual cost for sure until the bidding process is complete.”

DosReis added the attorney general’s staff did consider using Capitol Police officers – state employees who provide security at courthouse entrances and other state buildings – but “concluded that there would be a significant cost savings in using a private security service.”

Lynn Loveday, president of Capitol Police union Local 2448, said she was “extremely disappointed” the attorney general sought bids for armed private security.

“The Capitol Police protect and patrol many state buildings including the Courts and State House,” Loveday said in an email. “The Capitol Police are armed, fully trained law enforcement professionals, with arrest powers. It’s counterintuitive that the state’s top prosecutor wants to hire private security instead of Capitol Police.” 

“The union will explore any and all options to prevent the outsourcing of public safety,” she added.

The Bureau of Criminal Identification, which conducts background checks on individuals, was moved from the Providence office to the new Cranston facility last year. The investigators that handle BCI are armed according to DosReis, so their departure left a security gap in Providence.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

This article has been updated form the original to include a spokesperson’s clarification that the attorney general’s office is seeking one guard per shift.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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