Daniel Derenda, who recently resigned as the commissioner of the Buffalo Police Department after holding that position for nearly eight years, has been hired by G4S Secure Solutions, the American subsidiary of G4S, a British private security firm. G4S, which is one of the largest private employers in the world, was hired by the City of Buffalo in 2016 to provide security at City Hall.
Derenda was hired as police commissioner in 2010 at the beginning of the second term of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who campaigned on being tough on crime.
Though the Buffalo News has characterized Derenda as “a street cop with a healthy dose of common sense,” the department came under intense criticism and public scrutiny during Derenda’s tenure. In 2017, Buffalo police officers killed two unarmed men, resulting in investigations by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. (One investigation was closed without finding enough evidence to charge the officers involved, who refused to cooperate, and the other is still ongoing.)
The department’s “strike force,” created under Derenda in 2012, has drawn criticism for its use of police checkpoints in communities of color and for its brutal tactics and illegal searches. Though the police appropriation has ballooned to $133 million of the city’s total $500 million operating budget, the department has a dismal record of solving crimes – only eight of the 38 homicides committed in Buffalo last year have been solved.
A 2016 survey by the Partnership for the Public Good found that only 44% of black respondents in Buffalo reported that they would trust the police in an emergency.
G4S Secure Solutions, the company that Derenda is joining, was recently awarded a public contract by the City of Buffalo. The firm was hired in 2016 to operate metal detectors at Buffalo City Hall and to patrol the building. According to Open Book Buffalo, the city’s financial data portal, the city paid G4S $651,757 in the 2017 fiscal year, which appears to have come from the police budget. In addition to his salary from G4S, Derenda qualifies for a state pension, which the Buffalo News calculated to be worth $90,000 per year.
G4S, which is a major international security firm, has also faced its share of controversies. In Great Britain, where G4S has its global headquarters, the company runs several immigration removal centers. An undercover BBC investigation into abuse claims recorded ongoing physical and mental abuse of detainees at the facility and ultimately led to the resignation of one of the center’s directors.
In 2014 G4S came under fire for supplying security equipment and staff for checkpoints in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and running Israeli prisons. The company ended its business operations in Israel amid pressure from the Boycott Divestment & Sanctions movement and after losing high profile contracts due to its operations there, though G4S denies that the campaign drove its decision.
In 2016, just after the City of Buffalo finalized its contract with G4S, the firm’s screening processes came under question when one of its employees, Omar Mateen, murdered 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. G4S was forced to pay a $151,000 fine when it was revealed that the doctor named on Mateen’s psychological examination had not conducted the exam or even met Mateen.
Despite its various scandals, G4S enjoys the backing of global capital. One of the largest owners of G4S is Invesco, an investment firm whose distressed private equity arm WL Ross & Co was run by current Trump administration Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Another major G4S shareholder is BlackRock, a global investment firm whose CEO Larry Fink recently declared an interest in socially responsible investing. In addition to BlackRock’s 6% stake in G4S, the firm is also invested in the private prison companies GEO Group and CoreCivic, which we highlighted in a recent post.
Derenda’s move from the Buffalo Police Department to G4S is a textbook example of the revolving door between the public and private sectors. According to his new employer, Derenda will “oversee customer relationships, sales and operational activity in the Buffalo area.” G4S will be able to capitalize on relationships that Derenda has cultivated with policymakers and local law enforcement over his 32 years at BPD, while also creating an incentive for current public officials to play nice with the company, which has now set a precedent for rewarding those officials with jobs once they decide to leave public service.