Jerry Kopel

Security Guards

January 13, 2007

By Jerry Kopel

Predictions: You will not see consumers marching around the state capitol grounds in 2007 carrying signs stating: "License security guards."
Of course, the National Associations of Security Companies (NASC) might order their employees (security guards) whose starting pay is $9 to $12 an hour to do so.
The NASC had applied to the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) for a Sunrise review, which is required by statute before an occupation can be licensed. DORA's recommendation was "no state licensing needed." But that won't stop a bill from being introduced.
NASC had not prepared a bill, but did tell DORA it wanted a million dollar liability insurance policy for each private security company.
That makes anti-competitive sense. If a security guard who is an off-duty police officer wants to start a company and hires another person, that police-officer-security-guard would face the need to buy a million dollar insurance policy. And, contrary to many other states' statutes, NASC does not want Colorado licensing any security company.
Also, to cut out howls of rage and opposition from large companies that employ their OWN security guards, the NASC approach is that proprietary security guards (working possibly  for a company like Wal-Mart) would not have to be licensed, only private security guards who are rented for hire.
So if the purpose is public protection, do you go up to a security guard at Wal-Mart before buying goods and ask if he or she is proprietary or private?
As DORA states: "All arguments attempting to justify exempting proprietary security forces from regulation focus on the ability of the employer to protect itself, rather than protecting the public."
According to DORA, 39 states regulate the security industry.  Of these, 36 regulate private security companies plus private security guards, and 15 of the 39 regulate proprietary security guards.
Another issue is local control vs. state control. DORA lists Brighton, Cherry Hills Village, Colorado Springs, Denver, Evans, Glendale, Greeley and Westminster as regulating the industry.
Most, but not all of these, presently regulate both private and proprietary security guards, and private security companies.
According to DIORA, local jurisdictions have issued approximately 6,500 security guard licenses. NASC estimates there are 6,000 to 8,000 private security guards in all of Colorado. 'It is reasonable to conclude' ",states DORA . "that a high percentage of security guards (about 80 percent) are already licensed in at least one local jurisdiction"  although some of the licenses may be duplicative.
The applicant doesn't mention, but DORA does, its discovery that the turnover rates for security guards run as high as 70 percent in a one-year period.
DORA asked the applicant to show damage to the Colorado public by the present system. They came up with 12 state events, but the report doesn't provide what time period they covered, and DORA found only three cases represented a "potential" for harm to the public.
Applicant in committee hearings will likely discuss the federal security officer employment authorization act of 2004 that focuses on "the threat of additional terrorist attacks" and "the American public deserve the employment of qualified well-trained private security personnel..."  However, the federal law imposes no training or examination requirements and bows to state licensing requirements.
There is no national exam in existence for entry-level security guards.
The suggested training language by applicant for Colorado is eight to 20 hours of pre-licensing time. DORA points out state licensing only requires the minimal competence necessary to provide service, not "well-trained personnel".
With this occupation as well as others which could harm the public, criminal background checks would be required. DORA spends several pages discussing various types of criminal checks and their weaknesses, concluding "criminal history background checks will likely not prevent terrorism and any argument asserting that they will, serves only  to create a false sense of security."
It appears applicant wants to "grandfather" in off-duty or retired law enforcement personnel and individuals with previous military experience. DORA points out if that happens "this could severely complicate licensing decisions."
DORA believes the present system of local jurisdiction is working which bolsters the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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