March 8, 2017 - 10:11 am
CARSON CITY — A panel of lawmakers on Wednesday approved funding of nearly $400,000 to provide contracted security for the state’s National Guard facilities, although some committee members expressed concern about the move to privatization.
The Nevada Office of the Military learned in October 2016 that it was improperly allowing its Army Military Security Officers to use privately owned firearms on duty, contrary to an Army security agreement.
As a result, the office was forced to disarm its security officers, which it said is an unacceptable security risk for the guard bases. The $392,000 contract approved by the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee will transfer funds from a different military account to allow the guard bases to use private armed security.
While some lawmakers expressed concern with the move, the office said the use of contractors for such services is common for the military.
Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said she would have preferred the office to come to lawmakers with an alternative option. If additional funds are needed for guard-based security, lawmakers would work to find it, she said.
“I cannot support privatization,” Carlton said.
The request was approved, however, by a majority of the panel.
Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, expressed concern about officers who are being let go as a result of the contract.
Col. Cory Schulz, director of joint operations for the Nevada National Guard, said some of the officers have found other jobs, some have retired and about 16 are expected to work for the new contractor, although pay will be lower in some cases.
Carlton asked Schulz and the office to report to lawmakers by June 2018 on what it would take to restore guard based security at its bases.
Schulz said he is comfortable with the security arrangement and told lawmakers that the security of the bases is “what keeps me up at night.”
Contact Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.