Denver Government

Pinkerton Applying for Armed Security License in Denver Again

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Following a lengthy administrative and legal battle with the City of Denver, the famous Pinkerton agency has applied to become a licensed armed security guard operator in the Mile High City once again.

Pinkerton filed for security guard licensure in December, a little over two years after Matthew Dolloff — hired by a subcontractor of Pinkerton to provide security for a 9News team covering dueling protests in Civic Center Park in October 2020 — shot and killed Lee Keltner, a man who slapped Dolloff and sprayed Mace at him. In March 2022, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann dismissed a second-degree murder charge against Dolloff after her office concluded that the security guard, who didn't have a license at the time of the shooting, was acting in self-defense.

After the shooting, the Denver Department of Excise & Licenses issued an order to show cause as to why Pinkerton should not have its security license suspended or revoked. Pinkerton and the Denver City Attorney's Office struck a settlement agreement. However, Ashley Kilroy, the executive director of Excise & Licenses at the time, rejected the deal, leading to a hearing in February 2021.

The administrative officer overseeing that hearing ultimately decided that Pinkerton's license should be suspended for six months for failure to comply with local laws, and found that the company was also responsible for "acts and omissions" of the subcontractor it had worked with that hired Dolloff. At that point, the subcontractor, Jason Isborn, had already agreed to surrender his security license to Excise & Licenses.

In June of that year, Kilroy accepted the findings of the hearing officer, but also ruled that Pinkerton should lose its security license in Denver indefinitely. After that, Pinkerton appealed the administrative ruling in Denver District Court, and in June 2022, Judge David H. Goldberg ruled that Pinkerton could keep its security license, overruling Kilroy's decision.

The judge granted the appeal on narrow grounds, specifically siding with Pinkerton based on the company's argument that a section of a Denver ordinance that talks about license suspension or revocation does not apply to the company because the law states that “any act or omission committed by any employee, agent, or independent contractor that occurs in the course of his or her employment, agency, or contract with the licensee shall be imputed to the licensee or permittee for purposes of imposing any suspension, revocation or other sanction on the licensee or permittee."

If the section had simply stated "his," it would have implied that the category included corporations, Goldberg determined. However, since the law instead uses "his or her," it applies only to natural persons and was not applicable to Pinkerton, he ruled, without addressing any of the other arguments before him.

"The Court finds and concludes that the Director abused her discretion and Pinkerton’s revocation is set aside and reversed," the judge wrote.

But by the time the judge ruled, Pinkerton no longer had a valid security license in Denver, since the license had expired just a few days after the October 2020 shooting.

"They have the right to apply for a new license, since a Denver District Court judge overturned the final decision by the city to revoke their license," says Eric Escudero, a spokesperson for Excise & Licenses. "There is no hearing required for this license to be approved. The application is reviewed, and if all qualifications are met, a license is issued. The status of this application is pending."

Westword has reached out to Pinkerton for comment.

In its application, Pinkerton is requesting an armed security guard license so that its employees, who would need to be licensed individually, too, can carry pistols, Tasers, batons and pepper spray in the course of their work.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.

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