Archive for Saturday, November 12, 2005

Private security works to shed antisocial image

November 12, 2005


Some private security guards can bench press more than 400 pounds. They work out regularly, then stand guard at Lawrence hot spots, instilling fear in some patrons.

"Once you see them, you have less confidence in yourself," said Trey Sanchez, a Kansas University sophomore. "You're like half their size."

They can be intimidating.

"They're just huge guys," said Jacob Mitchell, a KU senior. "I'm kind of glad I've never had to talk to them."

But it's not always easy being a private security guard.

"We are very, very misunderstood and misinterpreted," said Zac Marrs, owner of Mil-Spec Security Group in Lawrence.

Such security personnel do everything from guard bars to patrol apartment complexes. Some may think they're thugs or party-wreckers, but they're just doing their jobs, Marrs said.

"I think they've got the worst possible job actually," said Dennis Steffes, owner of Coyotes and Last Call nightclubs. "They not only get blamed for everything by us, but they get blamed for everything by everybody else."

Mil-Spec security Group officer Sam Byers makes his rounds in one of the company's cars. The company handles after-hours security at businesses, apartment complexes and other sites in and around Lawrence.

Mil-Spec security Group officer Sam Byers makes his rounds in one of the company's cars. The company handles after-hours security at businesses, apartment complexes and other sites in and around Lawrence.

Two decades ago, there were no security firms in Lawrence, said Sgt. Dan Ward, spokesman for the Lawrence Police Department. Today there are several in the region, including Mil-Spec.

The companies can help keep peace and help when, some say, the Lawrence Police Department is understaffed.

"We don't have enough officers on the street to provide the level of presence that some individuals would like to have," Ward said. "They are an extra set of eyes for the police department."

Zac Marrs said his security officers have a relationship of necessity with police.

"They have their agenda, of course, and we have ours," he said. "We usually try to find a common ground."

Security officers must call the police if they detain someone who breaks the law. They never throw punches, but can restrain people through joint manipulation and pressure points.

The goal is to gain control of a situation without hurting anyone.

"You want them to go away and to go away quietly," said Matt Marrs, Mil-Spec's general manager and brother of Zac Marrs. "The reason why we're there is to keep things quiet."

It can be a thankless job. For $7 to $13 per hour, Mil-Spec's employees often work late hours protecting places such as bars, apartment buildings, warehouses, sports venues and other sites.

"We usually don't get compliments," Matt Marrs said.

Mil-Spec security officers, from left, Sam Byers, Zac Marrs, Matt Marrs and Brock Moody, visit before a night of duty at the dance club Liquid, 806 W. 24th St.

Mil-Spec security officers, from left, Sam Byers, Zac Marrs, Matt Marrs and Brock Moody, visit before a night of duty at the dance club Liquid, 806 W. 24th St.

Mil-Spec has about 25 employees.

"There are certain individuals who are just geared for this kind of work," Zac Marrs said. "They're not too aggressive, and they're not too mild-mannered."

Some people understand the role of a security guard, he said. Others don't.

He recalled working in Olathe and being asked why he carried a pistol. The person told him that he was in Johnson County and that no one carries a gun in Johnson County.

A few months later, he witnessed a shooting while on duty.

"I think the people who don't understand why we're there are either naive or they've lived in a sheltered environment," he said.


Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 3 months ago

Dost mine eyes deceive me, or did the article say that Mil-Spec "never throws punches"?? Uh huh. If you believe that, I've got a nice bridge that I'm looking to get rid of...

hurlehey 12 years, 3 months ago

Mostly it's the criminal records and dishonerable discharges these guys have that keeps them from being real cops.

topflight 12 years, 3 months ago

They try to say these guys dont throw punches. HA, why else would the muscle heads (and i use that loosely, because not all of them are that damn big and musclely) join Milspec? They figure they can be were all the fights happen and then jump in and get some free punches in without going to jail. RENT-A-COPS. Wait, they dont even deserve that much, how about, RENT-A-IDIOT. Heard last year that some of the members in milspec were wanted on some serious drug charges. But hey lawrence liberal world, lets make these guys look like regular hard working folk.

Jeremy Lichtenauer 12 years, 3 months ago

As usual, the reporter failed to mention how many times Mil-Spec had been sued or how many times a member of their staff has been charged with a crime themselves.

Long live jack boots, skin tight shirts, shaved heads and goatees!!! Roid-rage is a wonderful thing, unless you're on the receiving end of it.

milspec_officer 11 years, 4 months ago

Jeremy, you have nothing but empty speculations and accusations. In the 5 years I've worked for Mil-Spec, we've been sued TWICE, and on both occasions, it was by some ambulance-chasing lawyer. Every city gets numerous lawsuits by these people- that, by no means, makes the claim legit or warranted. As far as the criminal part, as I stated above, we don't hire convicted criminals.

We wear "jack boots" because it's a cleaner look that having our ankles draped by our pant leg. The boots we wear are the very same you'll find in Police Supply catalogs. These are the very same boots that'd you'd find a corrections officer or tactical officer wearing. Just because we're security guards, doesn't mean we can't wear functional gear. Besides, I personally think we'd look pretty stupid with sneakers on. We wear "skin-tight shirts" as part of our intimidation factor. You see, because it intimidates people, they're less likely to be hostile or confrontational. If you knew anything about Law Enforcement, you'd know that the first level of force in the Use of Force Continuum (something followed by ALL police) is PRESENCE. If we can deter an potential offender from acting by our appearances alone, not only does it reduce liability for us, but it makes our jobs easier too. The "shaved head" thing is a personal preference for some. I personally choose to wear a "high & tight", mostly because it's an easy haircut to manage with a pair of clippers. Not everyone sports goatees- I can only think of TWO officers that even have them. Out of 25+ officers, 2 is a pretty small percentage.

Oh, and don't mistake us not putting up with people being stupid and mouthy as "roid rage". Personally, it sounds to me like you got your butt handed to you in front of your friends, and you're talking trash to make yourself feel better. When your maturity level reaches a level that is close to that of AT LEAST a college student, come back and talk to me...

milspec_officer 11 years, 4 months ago

topflight, That's not why we work for Mil-Spec. You'd be amazed at some of the worthless trash that tries to apply for Mil-Spec. So many talk trash on us, but the funny part is whenever we post a "Now Hiring" ad, we get flooded with HUNDREDS (literally) of calls. Maybe you were one of those people who applied to Mil-Spec but were seen as "not having what it takes" to work for us...

Your derogatory comments regarding us looking for fights is laughable. I, like many other Mil-Spec officers, would much rather have an uneventful night, than one with confrontation. We get paid the same whether we are physical or not.

Oh and while we're talking about "idiots", it's funny that you mention that, because you said "Rent-A-Idiot"...shouldn't it be, "Rent-AN-Idiot"?? Oh well, I'm sure you already knew that...

Oh, and for the record, Mil-Spec has NEVER been served drug charges. Your source of information is erroneous, to say the least. There was a former co-owner, who was fired for felony embezzlement and peddling cocaine, painkillers, and marijuana on the side, but after these discoveries, he was quickly fired. Get your facts straight before you start talking trash...

milspec_officer 11 years, 4 months ago

Hurlehey, you couldn't be further from the truth. The field of Law Enforcement is a highly competitive one, contrary to popular belief. I've been trying to get on a local department for nearly a year now, and the ONLY thing that's holding me back is my driving record. Although I have not had a traffic citation for 2 years now, I still have 3 tickets on my record. Not all police departments are this way, but many local departments have the luxury of being picky. You can't even begin to fathom the numerous "hoops" you have to jump through for even a shot at a police officer position. Aside from that, let me tell you that Mil-Spec (nor would any other security company) hire someone with a criminal record or dishonorable discharge. They won't typically hire someone with a GED either, because they feel if you can't cut it in high school, you probably can't cut it in this field. I've worked for Mil-Spec for nearly 5 years now, and I can confidently tell you that in those 5 years, I've NEVER seen convicted criminals work for this company. Mil-Spec will pass you up for employment even if you have any assault charges or felonies. Not only is that a personal preference by the company, but the City of Lawrence will not issue CRIMINALS an security license, which each officer must renew annually.

Crossfire 10 years, 11 months ago

If it looks like a skinhead, waddles like a skinhead, and quacks like a skinhead, then it probably is a Mill-Speck! ...who-raw...

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