As printed in the UP Daily Press.
GLADSTONE — For Delta Force P.I., LLC, which offers security and private investigation services, the business has been booming as of late.
According to co-owner and founder Jim McNeil, Delta Force began operating a few years ago.
“We started just doing private investigations in 2014,” he said.
McNeil owns the business along with Molly Barron. He and Barron are licensed private detectives in Wisconsin, and Delta Force is a licensed private investigation and private security agency in Michigan and Wisconsin.
McNeil retired from Escanaba Public Safety in 2012, and Barron worked at Pathways Community Mental Health for 14 years before joining Delta Force.
After about a year in business, Delta Force began expanding the services it offered.
“We started branching out into the security industry, and it’s been uphill ever since,” McNeil said.
Barron said Delta Force’s growth is demonstrated by the number of employees it now has.
“We went from two people to 70,” she said.
To accommodate the increase in staff, Delta Force moved into a former bank building in Gladstone this February. Moving into the new facility also allowed the business to establish a headquarters for its certified explosives detection K-9 “Delta” and training.
“In the basement, we have a shooting simulator,” McNeil said.
The simulator, which utilizes a nine-by-23-foot projection screen, includes 42 scenarios for Delta Force employees to go through. Use of the simulator is offered free for local law enforcement.
Barron noted there has been a “significant uptick” in the usage of Delta Force’s private investigation services as of late. The agency has six private investigators; as of late July, Delta Force has seen more than 30 cases this year.
According to Barron, new funding from the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Act has played a role in the increase. The court system hires Delta Force to serve in this capacity, which it does across the Upper Peninsula.
“This is a way to make the system fairer and give people a good defense,” she said.
One of the most “rewarding” private investigation cases Delta Force has been involved with was helping Iron River police look into the disappearance of Chris Regan, McNeil said. He was killed by his mistress, Kelly Cochran, and her husband.
“We were on a nationally-broadcast documentary,” Barron said of the four-part series, “Dead North.”
Security is also an important part of Delta Force’s business.
“We have contracts in Michigan and Wisconsin,” McNeil said.
Though it now offers armed and unarmed security services across these states, Barron said Delta Force got started in this industry at an event held close to home.
“The U.P. State Fair … was the first big security job we did,” Barron said.
Delta Force is still heavily involved with the fair today.
Delta Force provides security for clients including Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Marinette Marine, OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group and businesses in the mining industry.
“We’ve noticed an uptick in personal protection for executives,” Barron said.
This includes protection during contract negotiations and strikes.
In addition to the work done by its human employees, Delta Force offers explosives detection services made possible by Delta.
“She searches for explosives that could be in buildings, vehicles, open areas, arenas, parcels (and) packages,” Barron — who also serves as Delta’s handler — said.
As the access to K-9 units for explosives detection is limited in the Upper Peninsula, Delta Force offers Delta’s services free to local law enforcement.
In the future, Barron said Delta Force aims to continue offering high-quality services.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide the best security and investigating we can,” she said.
For more information, visit deltaforcepi.com or find “Delta Force P.I., LLC” on Facebook.
By Jordan Beck of the UP Daily Press