Orange County audit exposes shortcomings in corrections security

The Orange County Comptroller's Office has detailed security shortcomings at the county’s corrections facilities and detention centers in a 44-page audit. 

Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond says no specific incident or complaint prompted their audit, but he's glad they've identified these issues. 

"Were the guards that were hired, are they meeting the standards that the company and county have agreed on? And we found that, in a lot of cases, no, they weren't," he said.

Allied Universal Security provided about 50 guards for the county corrections building and the juvenile detention center. The three-year contract, Diamond said, paid more than $5.5 million.

"People weren't being tested," he said. "They weren't getting psychological testing, physical testing. Backgrounds weren't checked the way they should've been checked. We also found that a lot of the continuing training wasn't happening."

Diamond said there were also issues with the juvenile detention center, in particular. 

"At the juvenile center, that there be a female guard at all times. That wasn't the case, we found."

Overall, the comptroller's office's recommendations included that the Orange County Corrections Department follow the hiring and training guidelines, ensure that Allied complies with staffing requirements, improve compliance with contract monitoring, and ensure that contract requirements align with current processes. 

"So there are a number of issues and it's important to us that the issues get addressed, get fixed. That's why we do these audits," Diamond said.

The comptroller’s office said Allied's latest contract expires in October, and it will be open again for bidding. In a year or two, the office will conduct a follow-up audit to ensure the security team followed all the proper guidelines.

The report included responses from Allied and the Corrections Department, indicating that they acknowledged and agreed with these problems and recommended fixing them. The comptroller's office said the idea was to address issues before they led to any problems at the detention centers.

Former Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said Allied would get its act together. 

"Allied is a big entity that provides these services, so rest assured they're not going to want to lose this contract, but most importantly, rest assured that they're not going to want any liability for a lack of - or lapse in - security."