American Police Force
(Major tip o’ the tinfoil hat to Libby Spenser, The Impolitic.)
“My personal opinion: Montanans don't post this type of misinformation on the internet, we post pictures of things we kill.” -Al Peterson, the Two Rivers Authority.
“American Police Force.” Kind of sounds like a Steve Gutenberg movie, doesn’t it? American Police Force: Mercenary Citizens on Patrol. Except this isn’t Hollywood fiction and this is less funny than even a Gutenberg comedy.
Justin Elliot at TPMMuckraker reported,
A shadowy private security company that has no known clients but claims to have helped foreign governments combat terrorism and will protect anything from cruise ships to Pakistani convoys has taken over a jail in a small Montana town, with plans to build a law enforcement training facility on the property.
The state legislature is looking into the matter and residents of Hardin, MT, were alarmed last week when executives from the firm, American Police Force, showed up in the town, which does not have its own police department, with Mercedes SUVs bearing "City Of Hardin Police Department" decals.
Since we know that impersonating a police officer is a felony offence, one has to wonder why these imposters weren’t arrested and charged. Perhaps the answer to that is because the “city” of 3384 residents doesn’t have a police force. Add to the absurdity of American Police Force’s name is the fact that America doesn’t have a national police force, either (not even the FBI identifies itself as such).
By the way, the deserted jail would've accommodated 464 inmates from other states and, ostensibly, Guantanamo Bay detainees. 464 inmates in a “city” of 3384 is equal to 13.71% of Hardin’s population.
The creepily-named CEC/Civigenics, the Halliburton of private prisons (a sleazy outfit that seems to have sprung right out of the Jane Hamsher-produced movie Natural Born Killers), that had built the Two Rivers Correctional Facility has been embroiled in one scandal after another going back to at least last year. Among their legal troubles was a CLEAT investigation looking into possible criminal improprieties between CEC/Civigenics and county officials. Indeed, McLennan County officials had done a remarkable turnaround in August last year just four weeks after rejecting CEC/Civigenics’ bid to build an 871 bed prison by authorizing the facility. The Texarkana, Texas-based company is notorious for understaffing its prisons and for hiring kids as young as 18 as correctional officers (one such employee was busted for carrying contraband into a CEC-run prison for inmate use while another guard, this one a 20 year-old woman, was charged with bringing illegal drugs into another CEC prison).
But CEC/Civigenics is out of the picture, now. This isn’t about them. This is about American Police Force, a suspiciously well-financed Xe-like outfit that drives around in Mercedes SUVs and, according to its own website, does business with the federal government and in all 50 states, even though those claims have been called into question. Indeed, the company was founded just last March.
Al Peterson of the TRA defended APF and took to task residents who were circulating rumors of forced incarcerations, traffic stops and the confiscation of their firearms. But it seems the most outlandish claims put on the internet is by APF. Their sudden appearance in Hardin in three Mercedes SUVs masquerading as a nonexistent police force had prompted Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock to investigate APF for possible violations of the state's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act. By the way, their website, until recently, played Ravel’s Bolero.
Now, if you think that a well-funded mercenary outfit taking over a small town’s $27,000,000 empty county jail with a ten year agreement and a local reporter suddenly quitting her job to become the company’s spokesperson is strange, you haven’t heard anything, yet. After a little skullduggery on the part of press outlets such as the AP, it appears as if the head of APF, one “Michael Hilton”, started out in life as a small-time grifter straight out of Paper Moon. Hilton, a native of Montenegro and, despite having put more appearances in courtrooms than Perry Mason, is suddenly running a well-financed outfit that won’t reveal the source of their contracts. This jailbird’s aliases include Miodrag Dokovich, Miodrag Djokich, Miodrag Djokovich and Hristian Djokich, all Serbian names that’s very much in keeping with the company’s Serbian-inspired logo of the crowned double-headed eagle on Serbia-Montenegro’s coat of arms.
It’s also never been established that “Hilton” actually has any military history.
Now, while reading the first paragraph of Justin Elliot’s TPM article, the first thing that came to mind was, “Now, this wouldn't be Blackwater, would it?” No, this is American Police Force, which apparently is a Blackwater wannabe, However, while it’s never been conclusively proven that Blackwater/Xe is actually the company barging its way into Montana, one fact stands out:
Their website boasts of “our extensive tactical firearms training facility, the U.S. Training Center” as if they own it. But the U.S. Training Center is owned and operated by Blackwater. And Blackwater’s already had to fend off allegations of their connection with APR.
Yet the question remains: How can a petty crook and swindler who’s spent time in jail and had received multiple convictions of passing bad checks suddenly re-emerge as head of a multi-million dollar company that landed a shady $27 million deal taking over an empty county jail, a company that can afford to parade around in Mercedes SUVs, especially since it’s obvious that even the industrious Mr. Hilton/Dokovich/Djokich/Djokovich couldn’t possibly land contracts with the federal and foreign governments and all 50 states in less than 6 months?
I, for one, wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out that APF is a front company and/or a wholly-owned subsidiary of the embattled Blackwater/Xe.
Update: Here's a newscast on what I assume is Montana TV featuring part of an interview with "Captain Michael." The Two Rivers Authority doesn't seem to care that they've just been swindled by a jailbird because they already threw millions of dollars at them and since the ten year contract's been signed, whatever the company does with the jail and the 40 acres of property no longer needs council approval.