Sweeping changes in training of guards and Special Police Officers hired by a subsidiary of the global security firm Securitas, as well as how the company retains records are part of an innovative pretrial probation consent agreement between the giant security firm and the state, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins announced last week.
The agreement, approved today by Judge Michael D. Ricciuti, will be in effect for two years and if it is complied with, then the criminal charges against Securitas Security Services USA Inc. of Parsippany, N.J. will be dropped on May 4, 2023. If Securitas fails to comply – as monitored by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office – the case will then move to trial. Mohammad Khan, and his employer Securitas were charged in 2019 with assault and battery on a child under 14 and one count each of civil rights violations.
“The actions of Mr. Khan and the company which employed him were deeply troubling in part because the company had reprimanded him several times previously for excessive force. This pretrial consent agreement will help ensure that nothing like this happens again in any Massachusetts retail outlet that hires Securitas personnel as guards,’’ said DA Rachael Rollins. “The agreement notes that there are 292 such locations in Massachusetts and 92 of them are in Suffolk County.
“The changes in training will include de-escalation of high-risk situations, management of aggressive behavior, unconscious bias, and handling and processing of juvenile offenders,’’ DA Rollins said. “Revisions to the training program will incorporate principles in limits of authority and use of force.”
To lessen the risk of intentional deletion or destruction of video evidence, the agreement calls for Securitas to implement an updated records retention policy at all retail locations in Massachusetts. All videos and written records of arrests or use of force complaints will be stored in a separate computer accessible only by management.
Securitas will also make a charitable donation of $25,000 to an organization that seeks to address the mental health/trauma related needs of young individuals and/or seeks to address the effect of community policing on juveniles and emerging adults.
ADA Teniola Adeyemi told the court that the donation was in addition to a payment already made to the juvenile as part of civil litigation against the company. Attorney Paul V. Kelly represented Securitas in this case.
Under state law, to prove corporate liability the Commonwealth must show that an individual committed a criminal offense, that the individual who committed the offense was involved in a corporate business, and that the individual was vested with authority to act for the corporation with respect to that business. District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ Office believes those thresholds have been met and exceeded in this instance.
This consent agreement, said to be the first of its kind in the history of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, will have an outside auditor review the company’s actions in addition to oversight by the DA’s office.
The case is the result of a call from State Representative Nika Elugardo to DA Rollins alerting her about an incident in a Boston store in June of 2019. Initial claims alleged that a Primark security guard, Khan, used excessive and unreasonable force to detain an 11-year-old shoplifter, who admitted taking several items of clothing from the Primark store at 10 Summer St. in Boston on June 9, 2019. Boston Police estimated the value of the stolen goods to be $175.
A lengthy investigation found that Khan, a Special Police Officer employed by Securitas, had been reprimanded at least four times previously for using more force than permitted by the company and for violating protocol. On June 9, 2019 he grabbed the 11-year-old girl, pulled her back into the store, and pushed her into a corner obstructing the view of the CCTV security camera. Over the course of more than seven minutes, Khan, who is 6’ 1’’ and 225 pounds, grabbed the girl by the head and neck and threw her to the ground, punched her in the face while straddling her as she was on the ground, and even after being separated from her by Boston Police, re-engaged in struggling with her. All of this was done even though Khan was under explicit orders not to touch any customers, including suspected shoplifters. In addition, his Securitas co-workers and passersby urged him to stop.
The District Attorney’s Office indicted both cases, against Securitas and Khan, and also notified BPD of Khan’s excessive and allegedly criminal conduct, as BPD issued the license for him to be a Special Police Officer.
“This is an exceptional result and I commend Securitas and their counsel, Paul Kelly, for committing to improving its policies and practices. I also commend the Securitas employees that stepped up that day urging Khan to stop his violent behavior. They represent the best of this company, and likely far exceed the number of Khans who work there. I appreciate the quick work by Boston Police to de-escalate and control this volatile situation upon their arrival.
“We think differently about solutions when we see problems in Suffolk County. This consent agreement, which covers the hundreds of Securitas locations throughout Massachusetts, ensures appropriate training for and humane treatment by any security officer licensed by the police to engage with the public. And that is good for the people of Suffolk County.”
The charges against Mr. Khan are not impacted by this agreement. He returns to court on June 9 for a readiness hearing. Mr. Khan is represented by attorney Derege Demissie.