12 On Your Side: VA officials decide not to renew security contract

By: Elizabeth Owens Email
By: Elizabeth Owens Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, May 4, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Officials with the Department of Veteran Affairs have decided not to renew a security contract at the Community Based Outreach Clinic in Aiken. The decision comes a few weeks after a security officer disarmed a veteran with a gun inside the clinic.

Two security officers have worked at the clinic since its opening in 2007. Their contract expired April 2012.

"It was really a matter of us being good stewards with the resources we're given and that just wasn't a necessary resource," said Dr. Michael Spencer with the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Spencer says the decision not to keep security had nothing to do with money but rather that he saw no need for it.

"If you go to your doctor's office, you are not going to have a security guard sitting there in your doctor's office," he told News 12 On Your Side.

Cliff Powell, a veteran who frequents the clinic, called it "the dumbest move I've ever seen."

"These are soldiers, veterans that have been in combat and have had mental issues; this isn't your regular citizen," he stressed.

News 12 confirmed a veteran brought a gun into the Aiken clinic a few weeks ago. A guard disarmed the veteran without incident.

VA officials say that was the only known incident at that location.

Sources tell News 12 staff and volunteers have shared their fears with VA officials.

"I have a fear that there is going to be an incident in the Aiken clinic and, it's going to bad," Powell said. "It's almost like a time bomb."

VA officials told News 12 that Aiken Public Safety officers respond to any incidents at the clinic.

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