LEE COUNTY, Fla. - They're called Blue Lightning Protection. They have badges, uniforms, weapons and even flashy patrol cars. "People will drive by, do the double-take," Blue Lightning Patrol Operations Commander Robert B. Forrest III said. "You'll see the brake lights go on because they're contemplating, wondering was that a police vehicle? And, we enjoy that."
Blue Lightning Protection or BLP is a private security company. Their officers do everything from patrolling private properties to responding to alarms to bodyguard duties. "We are primarily ex-military or ex-law enforcement personnel," Forrest said. "We are not law enforcement. But, in essence, on private property, we are private police."
FDLE-certified Blue Lightning patrol officers can do everything typical law enforcement can do. They can carry weapons and they can detain suspects until law enforcement arrives, all while on the properties they patrol. "We do run on foot, we do whatever physically demanding situation may arise," Forrest said. "We take care of business."
The dangers are real. Three weeks ago, a BLP officer attempted to serve a trespass warning notice to someone in a community they patrol. "He threw the car into reverse and tried to back over our officer," BLP President John Scrivanich said.
The suspect was later arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. "The Sheriff's Office or City Police can't be everywhere all at once," Scrivanich said. "We try and work in concert with them. We are here to support their effort. Our mission is the same as theirs. They get tax money, we don't."
While BLP officers can't pull you over on the highway, there's a good chance you'll slow down when you spot them. "The more that they see the cars and officers moving around, the more deterrent there is to crime," Scrivanich said.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said, "Regrettably, I can't have a Deputy with every person, at every residence, or every business and so we rely upon the eyes and ears of others to assist us with our mission of keeping SW Florida safe. It is not uncommon for citizen groups to contract with us or private companies for extra protection. Blue Lightening Protection is one such company, and we maintain a good working relationship with them as we do with all of our public and private sector partners."