By Sarah Gravlee
The jail in Hardin has been empty for about two years, but on September 4th officials with the Two Rivers Authority, the economic development agency that paid for the facility, signed a contract with a private police firm called American Police Force to fill the jail.
"I think it's a great situation," said Al Peterson the Vice President of Two Rivers Authority. "I have found these people to be wonderful community partners."
The company's website states the U.S. government is their biggest client, but an Associated Press search of two comprehensive federal government contractor databases turned up no record of American Police Force.
Several media agencies have identified inconsistencies with the company. For instance their website states they have "years of experience," but a company spokesman said the corporation was formed this February. They also list an address to a building in Washington D.C., but no one at that address has ever heard of them.
"At this point that does not concern me." Peterson said. "I've been in contact with enough members of the A.P.F. and their representatives."
A company spokesman who would only identify himself as Captain Michael said they have never had experience housing prisoners and the jail was not the biggest attraction in Hardin.
"We don't really want to get into the prison business," he said. "We were actually interested more in the training center."
While he can't specify exactly what they will be training for, the company investigates everything from missing persons to insurance fraud to cheating spouses.
Peterson said they're excited to have a military presence in a town without a police force. A.P.F. has already put down what Captain Michael calls a "substantial amount of money."
They'll be in Hardin next week and start filling about 250 positions, 80% of which will be hired locally.
"We will bring the city of Hardin back on their feet," Michael said.
Two Rivers Authority officials will present the information at a city council meeting Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Hardin, but they do have a signed contract and do not need council approval.