Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What is "American Police Force"?

I stumbled upon a news item yesterday dated September 24 from TV station KULR of Billings, Montana that was kind of odd in a couple of ways, just in the opening paragraphs:
American Police Force officials showed up in Mercedes SUV's that had "Hardin Police" stenciled on the vehicles. The twist, the city of Hardin doesn't have a police department.

Two Rivers Authority officials say having APF patrol the streets was never part of their agenda. "I have no idea. I really don't because that's not been a part of any of the discussions we've had with any of them," said Two Rivers Authority's Al Peterson.
My first thought was "American Police Force? WTF??". My second was that this must be part of an ongoing local story and I must be missing something. Surely the "American Police Force" could only exist in the fevered mind of a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

So I poked around the KULR web site and came up with a number of news items there regarding APF, the earliest of which appears to be this one from September 14th. APF seems to be a somewhat murky outfit:
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.
OK, so APF is a private security firm, I assume in a fashion similar to Blackwater. The article goes on to note the murkiness of APF:
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.
So what I'd found out so far was that APF had contracted with local authorities to operate an empty jail in Hardin, the thought it would be cool to declare themselves the non-existent Hardin Police Department (a later article reports that they took the faux Hardin PD seals off their vehicles two days later). Needless to say, I got interested.

The APF web site is here (incongruously, Ravel's "Bolero" plays after the page loads), and lists the various services offered, such as:
  • Police Officer and Security Training
  • International Airline Security
  • Special Forces Training
  • Fugitive Recovery
  • Kidknapping (sic) & Ransom
  • Weapon & Equipment Sales - INTL Only
  • Cargo Ship and Cruise Line Security
  • Convoy Security (Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan & more)
  • Military Advisors
Impressive, and as I thought, similar to Blackwater. Back to KULR for more reading. A follow-up article dated September 28 reveals APF's circumspection:
Confusion and secrecy about American Police Force has grown during the last few weeks.

"APF has been here for 10 months but it has never been stealth," said APF spokesperson Becky Shay at a press conference on Saturday morning. The group announced its plans to fill the $27 million dollar detention facility and build a police training center next to the jail. While they gave details for the site, other questions went unanswered.

[ ... ]

During the press conference APF also refused to release any information on its funding or organization "The decision is the name of the parent company will not be released," said Shay.

When questioned about the decision to show up in Hardin last week in vehicles with "Hardin Police" templates, members were brief in their explanation. "They are to show are (sic) intentions are good," said APF leader Captain Michael Hilton. "Why not put an APF logo on it," said Shay. "You know we're getting there." All of the decals were removed from the vehicles two days later.
The article goes on to say that APF specifically states they won't house Gitmo detainees at the facility. Curiouser and curiouser, and time for some Googling. I came across this item from The guy there had already done what I was going to do: run a WHOIS look up on APF: is hosted on the same IP ( as Both sites feature the same logo. Click on the Catalog link on and say ‘hello’ to Edward Angelino.

Other business names associated with him: Allied Defense Systems, Inc. ( and Defense Consulting Group, Inc. There are almost certainly many more. I only spent ten minutes on this.

I looked through a couple of the sites that use the same template and noticed this:

Founded in 1990, ADS and its veteran team have serviced a variety of contracts under extreme conditions in the Middle East. Our projects have ranged from base camp construction operations to supplying world-class military vehicles. In the midst of international tensions, ADS will perform.

Founded in 2004, DPS and its veteran team have serviced a variety of contracts under extreme conditions in the Middle East. Our projects have ranged from base camp construction operations to supplying world-class military vehicles. In the midst of international tensions, DPS will perform.

Oddly, I don't get the same IP addresses looking up these three domain names, but both Allied Defense and Defense Products do have nearly identical web sites. I'm guessing they're the same entity doing business under different names depending on where they're operating, but it's not clear that they're parent organizations for APF.

It's only fair to note that it's common for security companies - real, no-shit security companies - to cloak much of their operational information, but this level of opacity is unusual.

More attempts at unraveling APF here.
There is, however, an American Private Police Force Org Inc. that was incorporated March 2, 2009, and is based in Anaheim too. In addition to being the corporation’s agent for service of process, a Mr. Michael Hilton is the self-designated “Captain” of the APF.

The APF claims it is the subsidiary of a parent company but won’t identify the parent company or where APF is getting its money. The company’s Washington, D.C. address is a virtual office. Its Santa Ana, California office appears to be in an office complex with a Spanish-speaking church, a dental lab, and insurance agency.
That site also turned up an odd similarity between APF's logo and the Serbian coat of arms:

I'm not sure what to make of their appropriation of Serbia's coat of arms for their logo, but I'm inclined to think that they just said "Oh, crap...we need a cool logo!" and started poking around for a suitable crest. Anyway, very strange, indeed.

Update: Un-frackin'-believable. "Michael Hilton" of APF has a lengthy record of convictions for fraud, theft, etc. and is apparently a Serbian immigrant with a number of aliases. The shit's gonna come down on Hilton and APF hard.


Web development said...
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Web development said...
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Mr. Bingley said...

weird shit. and somewhat unnerving. i really dislike how we've started parceling out these things to non-governmental (and there by non-accountable) groups.

Eric said...

Yeah, definitely weird. I can see using contractors for limited non-combat duty, but this is just strange.

Charles said...

I seem to remember reading a blurb a few months ago that Erik Prince was tired of the flak Blackwater was taking and was going to disband the company. Never saw any follow up on that, maybe this is it.

Eric said...

Blackwater now operates under the name "Xe Services". I hadn't heard about this change until just a few days ago. Link

Charles said...

"Xe Services"

Sounds very zen. :)

Montana AG to investigate APF. The article also explains the Serbian coat of arms.

Eric said...

Oh, good "Capt." Michael Hilton is a Serb, and has done time in prison. Nice.