Tulane reassesses relationship with Landmark Security

Emma Discher, Senior Staff Reporter

Landmark Security recently fired a guard working on campus after he approached five female students three times asking for their phone numbers and hugs.

The number of guards on campus increased after recent on-campus safety concerns, including a string of on-campus burglaries and an armed robbery in the Lavin-Bernick Center. The relationship between Tulane and Landmark is not new, but its future is being assessed with these developments.

Though the guards were hired to help ease fears and anxieties over safety, one sophomore in the School of Science and Engineering found one Landmark Security guard to be a cause of anxiety. The student will remain unnamed, as she is concerned for her safety.

“This Landmark guy approached us and he was saying super weird things and we couldn’t really understand him,” she said. “He was talking really quietly like, ‘Yo, you girls have a good night. Text someone who’s single.’ We just kept walking. We clearly weren’t interested in talking … so we’re sort of walking by and casually laughing but avoiding him.”

The guard pulled her aside from her friends, asked for her number and a hug, and proceeded to kiss her on her cheek. Though uncomfortable, she brushed it aside. When a friend shared a similar story the next morning, the two decided to report it to Tulane University Police Department.

According to the source, the man approached another female student working at a residence hall desk that night. The guard was fired from Landmark Security after the incidents were reported.

“Landmark requires its employees act in a professional manner at all times,” said Michael Harrison, Landmark Event Staffing Services chief executive officer. “We have a no tolerance policy for unprofessional behavior. Unfortunately an employee violated the policy through verbal actions and was terminated after we were made aware of the situation.”

Other students have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the guards, including through the popular twitter account @Tulaneproblems.

“Also Landmark Security has to be one of the biggest jokes — its just two people walking around campus with their heads down on their iPhones,” the Nov. 20 tweet read.

One Twitter account claiming to be a Landmark Security guard at Tulane even admitted to this concern last year.

“I’m supposed to be Tulane security. I’m on FaceTime an everything else,” the Nov. 10, 2014 tweet read.

When asked about these complaints, TUPD Superintendent Jon Barnwell said he had already addressed them.

“We have fielded those complaints and we have expressed our displeasures with Landmark corporate and they have since provided an extra supervisor to the campus that is assisting in policing those types of behaviors,” Barnwell said.

Landmark guards have worked with Tulane since 2013, first as event security for football games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, then at Yulman Stadium in 2014 and in building overnight lockdown services in March 2015. Guards now work athletic events and special events on campus and 24/7 security.

“We had it as part of their contract that if TUPD needed supplemental security then we would hire through Landmark and utilize them,” Barnwell said. “In light of the recent incidences and the need to assist in policing perception through added visibility, we contracted with Landmark to bring 6-8 [officers] on campus basically 24/7. It’s been very helpful in increasing visibility and extra eyes and ears with radio communication to respond to radio back to our law enforcement if they needed to respond to incidences.”

The guards currently report to TUPD via walkie talkies about anything concerning on campus. They follow patrol routes in TUPD’s on-campus patrol zones and a few act as stationary patrols in the Lavin-Bernick Center where non-affiliate Tre Spadoni recently robbed two students by coercing them into withdrawing money from a nearby ATM.

Landmark guards complete an interview and background check when applying. According to Harrison, guards attend a total of 21 hours of training, including eight to receive their state of Louisiana guard card training.

TUPD officers complete interviews, written exams, a physical test, a background investigation, psychological evaluations and more as part of the hiring process. TUPD vets 200 applicants for every one hire, according to Barnwell.

“They’re security as opposed to sworn law enforcement so it’s not as extensive as it is for our police officers but it is a robust program,” Barnwell said. “They have standards that they have to meet to be certified security officers for the state of Louisiana.”

Moving forward, TUPD and university administrators are assessing the next step in the relationship.

“What we are currently doing is studying the need and feasibility to continue with security supplementing TUPD for the future whether that is with a contracted vendor that is Landmark or whether that is something brought in house under my direct control by hiring and equipping security guards so that they would be TUPD employees,” Barnwell said.

TUPD also continuously hires to fill vacancies in their force of about 100 officers between the three campuses. About 48 officers serve the Uptown campus specifically.