Enrique Hernandez, a onetime LAPD officer who pioneered sophisticated private security methods and developed an international reputation as the founder of Pasadena-based Inter-Con Security Systems Inc., has died. He was 74.
Hernandez died Sunday night of cancer at his home in San Marino, said his son, Enrique Hernandez Jr.
After 20 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, the senior Hernandez retired in 1973. From the kitchen table at his Monterey Park home, Hernandez and his wife, Bertha Amelia, developed a plan to go into the private security business.
Hernandez viewed what was being offered by other private security firms and decided to take a much more eclectic approach in customer service. While some firms might specialize in security guards, alarms or electronic surveillance, Hernandez offered a package of options encompassing everything.
His son said the firm’s first major contract was with NASA at Edwards Air Force Base. Other NASA installations quickly followed.
The firm now has wholly owned subsidiaries in 19 countries and employs more than 30,000 people. Although its earning are not public, some estimates put them at more than $1 billion annually.
Hernandez was born in Jerome, Ariz., on May 14, 1931, and moved to Los Angeles with his parents and eight siblings in 1941.
After dropping out of high school and joining the Army at 17, Hernandez saw action in the Korean War. He returned to Los Angeles and joined the LAPD in 1953. He rose to the rank of lieutenant in the detective bureau and worked for a time in the scientific investigation unit. He also earned his high school diploma and later an associate of arts degree at East Los Angeles College.
In his later years with the LAPD, Hernandez was one of the lead officers investigating the shooting death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel in 1968.
In the early 1960s, the Justice Department developed an initiative to send bilingual U.S. law enforcement experts to Latin American nations to offer training on policing techniques. Hernandez was part of the program.
While in Latin America, he learned that middle- and upper-class residents required security from criminals in their everyday lives. So he started thinking about integrating cameras, electronics and guards into a package of security options. These thoughts would come into play years later at Inter-Con.
Inter-Con grew from the NASA contracts in the 1970s to having a major foreign presence, initially in the mid-1980s in Latin America, where the firm offered private security options to families and businesses. The firm later expanded to Africa and Europe.
In the United States, Inter-Con has become a leading provider of security for major firms in healthcare, communications and transportation, as well as for the U.S. government.
In the 1980s, Hernandez also successfully pitched the idea of training private security guards to supplement U.S. Marines in protecting U.S. embassies and officials around the world, his son said.
Hernandez retired from the firm in 1999.
In addition to his wife of 53 years and his son, Hernandez is survived by another son, Roland; a daughter, Yvonne; brothers Marcos and Victor; sisters Juvelinda and Grace; and 11 grandchildren.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Holy Family Church, 1501 Fremont Ave. in South Pasadena.
Instead of flowers, donations in Hernandez’s name can be made to Loyola High School, 1901 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90006.