Security firm KingAlarm Systems Ltd has been accused by a former guard of using aggressive detention tactics, including the use of handcuffs, in an industrial relations hearing, but the company has defended its investigative practices as legitimate.
Mario McFarlane, who was employed to the company for approximately a year and a half, told The Gleaner Sunday that he and another male guard were reported to supervisors about a missing cell phone.
However, when McFarlane’s supervisors called him into work, after the November 15 incident, he was allegedly taken into a room and handcuffed to a chair as he underwent questioning and was deemed uncooperative.
He alleged that the supervisors were aware that the phone in question had already been recovered.
“Basically, they were trying to solve a hearing ... and they were trying to investigate on their behalf what took place on the location,” McFarlane said, noting that the phone that was reported stolen was later found the same day.
“They [were] not getting any form of information from me ... because I told them that I am sticking to my (police) report and the result was that they are not getting through to me ... . Him (a manager) handcuffed me on the chair based on that,” McFarlane told The Gleaner.
“He said that he was going to hand me over to the police, but no police at all didn’t come ... . They were trying to use an intimidation method,” he said of the alleged use of handcuffs.
McFarlane later stated that before their release, the men were instructed to turn the palms of their hands towards the camera located in the room so that any bruises would have been captured.
Noting that investigations are ongoing, Andrew Graham, general manager at KingAlarm, said that he was unaware of the use of handcuffs on the men or that they were detained while being questioned.
Graham defended the company’s investigative methods, adding that officials were not precluded from asking employees to submit to polygraph tests in the event of a similar incident. He said the measures were undertaken to support the investigation and safeguard KingAlarm’s integrity.
“Importantly, persons cannot be forced to do a polygraph test, and whomever is being tested would have to consent to same. Polygraph testing involving our staff would be carried out by an external third party to maintain full transparency as in many instances, the results of such testing would be provided to our client,” he said.
Dismissing the claim of illegal detention, Graham said that security officers had the same right as a private citizen to hold on to a suspect temporarily.
“Once there is sufficient grounds for detention, an individual may be legally detained pending the arrival of the police,” he said.
“I do not know of any breach in our protocols which took place in relation to this incident although I am not yet in a position to have reviewed all the files. That said, I am aware that two of our security officers were spoken to in the presence of the police in relation to a missing phone which was found in an area that at least one of them would have been able to access,” Graham said.
The general manager said that the guards were asked to provide written reports, and both were subsequently asked to undergo polygraph tests as their statements were deemed to have been inconsistent.
Both guards reportedly initially agreed to submit to the polygraphs, but only one turned up on the day of the test, he said.
The results of the test for the officer who underwent the polygraph suggested that his account was truthful and he has subsequently been returned to active duty, Graham said.
The other guard, he said, has not been able to be reached and failed to turn up for the polygraph.
McFarlane told The Gleaner that he has not reported back to work because of the mistreatment allegations. He also labelled the accusations against him false.
He said that his company identification card was taken from him and that he refused to take the polygraph test.
Graham said that KingAlarm takes its role of protecting life and property seriously.
“The integrity of our team members is critical, and we will continue to utilise all legal mechanisms to aid us in both our internal and external investigations,” Graham said.
“The rights of our staff will always be respected as will due process in all internal investigations involving any member of our team.”