The Republic Tue Aug 6, 2013 3:36 PM
A Scottsdale security firm caught up in a dispute between environmentalists and a mining company in Wisconsin will return to patrolling the forested site of a proposed iron ore mine.
The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services on Monday granted a security guard license to Bulletproof Securities. That will allow the company’s guards to resume working for the Gogebic Taconite mining company to protect its workers.
“We plan to use Bulletproof and several other companies going forward,” said Bob Seitz, a Gogebic spokesman.
Bulletproof withdrew its guards last month because it was not licensed to operate in northern Wisconsin at the proposed 4-mile-long open-pit mine.
Environmentalists and two Wisconsin state senators criticized Bulletproof’s guards for a show of force that they said was aimed at intimidating protesters and others visiting the Penokee Hills area of Iron County near Lake Superior.
The guards, wearing military-style uniforms and masks, were armed with 9 mm semi-automatic pistols and lightweight carbine rifles.
They were called in after a faction of protesters clashed with Gogebic workers June 11 at a mine test site. One protester was arrested for robbery and criminal damage.
Bulletproof spokeswoman Stacy Pearson said the company did not realize it needed a state license to operate in Wisconsin because it is federally licensed.
The state is not taking action against Bulletproof for operating in Wisconsin without a license, said Brittany Lewin, a spokeswoman for the state licensing department.
“The department’s priority is compliance,” she said. “The company stopped unlicensed practice and is now in compliance.”
Bulletproof was founded in 2002 by Tom Parrella, a former Chandler police officer. It has about 45 full- and part-time workers operating out of an office-warehouse in the Scottsdale Airpark.
Gogebic, also known as GTAC, is a subsidiary of the Florida-based Cline Resources and Development Group.
The mining company is in the early stages of testing for a mine that will be reviewed by state and federal regulators over the next few years.
The Wisconsin chapter of the Nature Conservancy has argued that the mine would threaten nearby rivers, lakes, groundwater and wildlife.