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Wednesday
Sep302009

American Police Force Corp. drawing questions, inspiring theories in Montana

 

Conspiracy theories abound, and they’re developing around American Police Force Corp. Neoliberal blogs are claiming rather amazingly that APFC is a militia, one sign the left couldn't identify a militia if it fell from heaven and hit them on the head. Fact is, a lot of hard information isn’t exactly forthcoming.

The logo for the American Police Force Corp., a  little known security company sparking controversy in the town of Hardin, Montana, is  eerily similar to a royal Serbian coat of arms.

APFC appeared to be claiming jurisdiction over the town on Tuesday when three Mercedes SUVs belonging to the group arrived bearing Hardin Police markings. Trouble is, Hardin hasn’t had a police department in 30 years and currently has a contract with the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office.

The Hardin mayor told the APFC to remove the decals.

CBS News said, "[R]epresentatives of the obscure California security company said preparations were under way to take over Hardin's jail, which has no prisoners. " The jail cost $27 million to build.

Michael Hilton, who media sources say might or might not be a spokesman for APFC, said in a CBS/AP article that “the vehicles would be handed over to the city if it forms a police force of its own.”

Free police cars? Apparently, no contract has been signed, and the contract at issue only covers the Hardin jail. Interestingly enough, it was recently revealed that the company’s operating agreement for the facility has yet to be validated – two weeks after city leaders first unveiled what they said was a signed agreement.

What did city leaders and APFC agree to?

Media also reported Hilton said he planned a helicopter tour of the region in coming days to look at real estate for a planned tactical military training ground. He said 5,000 to 10,000 acres were needed to complement the training center, a $17 million project.

He wants 5,000 to 10,000 acres—for  what kind of training? This company claims the capability of fielding a battalion-sized team of special forces soldiers “within 72 hours,” but who would they be training? Who will be conducting the training, and where would they come from?

APFC said that the majority of their 200-plus employees (for a 464-cell jail) would be local hires, but the job fair that APFC promised did not happen. They did, however, manage to hire a spokesperson.

APFC hired Becky Shay, a reporter for the Billings Gazette who covered events surrounding the jail since its construction. Shay said she intended to bring new transparency to the process, but declined to directly answer the first question posed to her: Where is American Police Force getting the money to operate the jail and build the training center? “I know enough about where the money is coming from to be confident signing on with them,” Shay told reporters.

Hilton said he also had a job discussion with Kerri Smith, wife of Two Rivers Trade Port Authority executive director Greg Smith, who helped craft the deal to bring APFC to Hardin. Greg Smith was placed on unpaid leave two weeks ago for reasons that have not been explained.

Kerri Smith just happens to be running for mayor of Hardin. The Two Rivers Trade Port Authority is a public/private partnership devoted to economic development.

On the TRTPA website Wednesday, messages scrolled above the fold: “There is no fence or gate being built around Hardin. People are not being put in jail for refusing the swine flu shot. And our city is not being taken over by a private police agency."

But why aren’t officials answering questions about a little-known security company showing up with official police vehicles in a Montana town of 3,487 people? --by Chris Carter

 
**Reprinted with permission from Crushing Chris. Slight edits have added additional information made available late this afternoon.

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