Private security contract with City of Des Moines canceled

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines is canceling a city contract with a private security company more than two months after reports revealed troubling remarks by the company’s CEO, who referred to local racial justice protests as “terrorism.”

The city’s contract with The Conley Group will end at midnight Monday, the Des Moines Register reported Friday.

City Manager Scott Sanders said in a statement that both parties reached an agreement to end the contract, while an attorney for company CEO Tom Conley said The Conley Group asked the city to end its contract early, citing “high customer demand.”

The company was set to see its $250,000 city contract more than double in July, until Conley’s remarks surfaced in a Register investigative report. It had been providing security services to the city since early 2020 at locations including City Hall, the Argonne Armory, the municipal services center and the former Dico Superfund site.

The city launched an internal investigation in July after the Register reported that Conley sent inflammatory emails to Des Moines officials, including one that said participants in racial justice protests last year were engaging in “terrorism.” Some emails also made disparaging remarks about George Floyd and members of the central Iowa-based Black Liberation Movement.

Floyd, who was Black, was killed in May 2020 when a white police officer used his knee to pin Floyd down by the neck for several minutes despite Floyd’s insistence that he couldn’t breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of murder and other charges in April and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

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