Wal­dorf firm suc­cess­ful in se­cu­rity, in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Black­out Se­cu­rity has grown to 90 em­ploy­ees in its 11 years

Maryland Independent - - Business - By DAR­WIN WEIGEL dweigel@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @somd_bized­i­tor

Guy Black has gath­ered at least two cher­ished mem­o­ries dur­ing the 11 years he’s been in busi­ness with his Black­out In­ves­ti­ga­tions and Se­cu­rity Ser­vices: pro­tect­ing Play­boy bun­nies at a dance club in the Dis­trict and stand­ing next to rap­per P. Diddy, aka Puff Daddy, or now Diddy, for four hours while he signed au­to­graphs at a Prince Ge­orge’s County mu­sic shop.

“It gives you a dif­fer­ent in­sight into these celebri­ties be­cause you’re stand­ing there lis­ten­ing to them, watch­ing them. … P. Diddy is just like he shows him­self on tele­vi­sion: He’s kind of tough. He’s de­mand­ing,” the re­tired Mary­land state trooper and La Plata res­i­dent said.

Black started the Wal­dorf-based Black­out two months af­ter re­tir­ing as an as­sis­tant com­man­der in 2006. A sec­ond knee surgery — a third came later, putting him on ar­ti­fi­cial knees — led to an of­fer of a med­i­cal re­tire­ment.

“I re­tired in July of ’06, and I sat home for two months,” the for­mer Marine said. “I re­al­ized I was way too young to sit home: ‘This can’t be what I al­ways dreamed of.’” He was 50 at the time.

“Two months of fix­ing ev­ery­thing I could fix, plant­ing ev­ery­thing I could plant, I re­al­ized I had to find some­thing else to do,” he said.

Back in 2000, Black was in charge of the Mary­land State Po­lice’s divi­sion that han­dles li­cens­ing for se­cu­rity guard and pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tion agen­cies, spe­cial po­lice, rail­road po­lice, K-9 ser­vices and se­cu­rity sys­tems in­stal­la­tions. That ex­pe­ri­ence led him to start Black­out.

To­day, he has around 90 em­ploy­ees, 40 of whom are full time and the other 50 or so are what he calls “part time, any­time.” They come from all walks of life but, not sur­pris­ingly, many have some back­ground in po­lice and se­cu­rity work.

Tonya Ridge­way of Wal­dorf is one of Black­out’s lead su­per vi­sors that works with clients on se­cu­rity plans and does spot checks to make sure guards stay on their toes and are do­ing the work re­quired.

Ridge­way spent six years as a po­lice of­fi­cer in Rich­mond, Va., and an­other six as a deputy sher­iff in Vir­ginia be­fore sign­ing on with Black­out three years ago, start­ing out do­ing guard work.

“Things are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent here. It was a pe­riod of ad­just­ment from the way the com­mon­wealth han­dles things,” Ridge­way said. “We have sites not only in Mary­land but also in D.C., so the laws are dif­fer­ent.

“Ev­ery day is a new ex­pe­ri­ence — no day is the same.”

On that theme, Black re­called a stake­out he once did for a di­vorce in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A woman was be­lieved to be hav­ing an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair, and Black needed to get solid ev­i­dence of that for his client, her hus­band.

“I fol­lowed her to this guy’s apart­ment com­plex. She went in about 8:30 that night. At that point, I’m in the park­ing lot with my video cam­era in my truck and I’m hav­ing to sit there and wait,” Black said. “She didn’t come out for about 10 hours. So, 10 hours I spent in a car.”

He said he had to keep a log and take a pic­ture pe­ri­od­i­cally to doc­u­ment how long he’d been there and show that her car was still there.

“If I’m putting to­gether a case for the client, I have to be able to ver­ify that he or she went in the building at 8:05,” he said. “At 9:05, she was still inside — I nor­mally take a pic­ture of the car in the same po­si­tion — 10:05, 11:05, same thing, doc­u­ment­ing and tak­ing a pic­ture so the client will have all that in­for­ma­tion. At 5:30, 6 o’clock she fi­nally walks out. By this time, I’m worn out.”

All the while, he had to keep from look­ing sus­pi­cious to oth­ers and draw­ing at­ten­tion from po­lice of­fi­cers pa­trolling the area.

“You have to have dark win­dow tint be­cause people can pull up and see you sit­ting in a car,” he said. “You hope it’s not cold so you’re not hav­ing to run the car all night be­cause people will won­der why that car is out there run­ning. I’ve been pulled up on by the po­lice be­cause I was sit­ting in a community with the lights off and the car run­ning.”

Other in­ves­tiga­tive work in­cludes work­men’s com­pen­sa­tion fraud and em­ployee theft cases.

“With work­men’s comp fraud, an in­di­vid­ual has claimed an in­jury on the job and he’s re­fus­ing to come back to work. He shows up at his doc­tor’s vis­its with his neck brace on, and he walks out the door and pops it off and throws it in the back seat,” Black said. “We do that kind of work, also. Those are the good ones. Or you get an in­di­vid­ual who’s su­ing some­one — he’s claim­ing he can barely stand up. There we are be­hind him, or sit­ting in the bushes some­where, film­ing [him] at a golf course swing­ing a golf club. That part of it’s re­ward­ing, be­cause you’re sav­ing a com­pany a lot of money.

“None of these things hap­pen on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” he said, “The ma­jor­ity of our work is guard ser­vice.”

Black said he has con­tracts for se­cu­rity work in Charles, St. Mary’s and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties, but most work is in D.C. He got his li­cense to op­er­ate in Vir­ginia about a year ago but hasn’t landed any reg­u­lar con­tracts there yet.

“One thing about these con­tracts, once you ac­quire them you have to have people to go out and su­per­vise them,” he said. “I couldn’t take a con­tract in Rich­mond, be­cause I’d have to send some­one down there on a daily ba­sis to check these people. We’ve been look­ing at Fair­fax, Ar­ling­ton, Alexan­dria — close by.”

Pa­trick War­ing of Wal­dorf, who main­tains a full­time job in an un­re­lated field, started as a se­cu­rity guard six years ago but quickly moved into a su­per­vi­sory po­si­tion the fol­low­ing year.

“I wanted some­thing to do as a part-time job,” War­ing said. “There was a lot of flex­i­bil­ity with the hours. I kind of like al­ways work­ing.”

War­ing has been around long enough to see the com­pany grow, and has got­ten to know Black well. He met him at a health club be­fore sign­ing on for guard work.

“To me, it’s an honor to work for Mr. Black,” War­ing said. “I knew him be­fore, but I’ve re­ally got­ten to know him on the job. He’s a hard worker, but he cares about his em­ploy­ees.”

The Gover­nor’s Of­fice of Mi­nor­ity Af­fairs agrees: It re­cently pre­sented Guy Black with a Gover­nor’s Ci­ta­tion rec­og­niz­ing his con­tri­bu­tions to the South­ern Mary­land busi­ness community.

Black’s community in­volve­ment in­cludes serv­ing as a Charles County Liquor Board com­mis­sioner and serv­ing on the boards of the South­ern Mary­land Mi­nor­ity Cham­ber of Com­merce, South County (Prince Ge­orge’s) Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion and the Derek Whit­ten­burg Foun­da­tion in Raleigh, N.C., which helps stu­dents fi­nan­cially to fin­ish their ed­u­ca­tion.

Black was also a com­pet­i­tive weightlifter and started the Mary­land State Po­lice’s weightlift­ing team, which won ti­tles at com­pe­ti­tions around the world.

“My pas­time is still weightlift­ing,” he said. “The [Mary­land In­de­pen­dent] did a cou­ple of ar­ti­cles on us when I was part of the state po­lice weightlift­ing team. I don’t com­pete any­more. I haven’t com­peted since my last knee surgery back in ’09. But I still train be­cause you never know when you have to be in good shape.”

STAFF PHOTO BY DAR­WIN WEIGEL

Guy Black started Black­out In­ves­ti­ga­tions and Se­cu­rity Ser­vices af­ter a ca­reer with the Mary­land State Po­lice.

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