Security guard regulations are increasing as more states evolve their requirements for security firms and crack down on firms operating illegally. One reason this is happening is due to the number of security companies found operating without a license, or with incomplete licensing requirements. Here’s what you need to know about security guard licenses!
Licensing is Key to Running a Successful Security Guard Company
We know this sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many companies try to offer security guard services without a license! Even recent cases show plenty of examples of people setting up security guard companies without licensing and getting caught. The result is usually a fine, but can include prison time, and makes it very unlikely that the person will ever be able to run a security company in that state again.
The security industry is heavily regulated with many requirements for setting up a business, training guards, and getting the proper licensing. Most of those found operating without a license either wanted to skip these regulations to make a quick buck, or already knew they wouldn’t be able to pass licensing requirements and wanted to operate under the radar.
This doesn’t work, for a couple of different reasons. States tend to be particularly vigilant when it comes to security guard services, and some state, like California, have departments dedicated to regulating the industry. Operating without a license opens up security companies to massive lawsuits if something goes wrong. Additionally, clients interested in hiring security guards are often knowledgeable enough to ask for proof of licensing and insurance.
Business Licensing Isn’t Enough: Every Guard Needs Proper Licensing Too
Suppose one of your security guards is carrying out their duties when they have a confrontation with someone who may be trespassing. That person asks for proof that they are a professional security guard. Upon noticing that the guard is armed, the person also asks to see evidence that they are licensed to use that firearm. Will your guard be able to provide evidence of this certification on the spot? They should.
A license for your general business is important, but your company also needs to make sure that the guards are equipped with evidence of their own licensing in case they are ever asked. Not only can this help defuse a tense situation, but it can also lower the likelihood of a successful lawsuit if something goes wrong. Some states may have specific requirements for every guard to hold certain types of licensing, while other states are more lax in this area.
It’s also important to keep an eye on guard licensing over time. If guard licenses have expired without the company noticing, this could create legal problems down the road, so all licenses should be kept current! Guards should also be encouraged to report if they ever lose licensing materials so they can quickly apply for a replacement.
Licensing and Legal Authority
Security guard licensing generally requires a certain amount of training, but some supervision is also left to the company itself. Security guard firms should use this opportunity to help train guards on the limits of their authority, and what licensing allows them to do (or not do).
As an example, recent cases have seen security guards not only chase down a mall thief, but corner and interrogate them. This goes far beyond the purview of security guards and can lead to serious consequences for the firm. Usually, this happens because guards – often unintentionally – assume that their license gives them an authority it does not (guards have no more authority to detain someone than any private citizen). Companies can help prevent this by adopting a workplace attitude that includes a clear understanding of a security guard’s role and what they should not be doing, as well as making sure that guard training is up to date.
Remember, Licensing Requirements Can Vary By State
It’s important to stay away of the private security guard licensing requirements for your state and know what is required. At minimum, most laws say that all qualifying agents must be at least 21 years old and have no related criminal convictions. A certain amount of experience may also be required, and a certificate of liability insurance needs to be shown (some states will also ask for a credit check). Following background checks, states generally have you sit for an examination. Keep in mind that application rules and exams do change over time, so renewing a license may be a different experience than when you first got your security business license.
For individual guard licenses, state rules can vary. However, many states will require the company to take care of guard training with on-the-job training, which would then require a security trainer’s license. States also require additional licensing for guards who will be carrying firearms, in accordable with federal rules.
To wrap things up, we want to make one last important point: Licensing isn’t just a requirement, it’s also a way to share third-party proof that your business is professional, capable, and ready to take on security projects. Don’t be shy about sharing your licensing info, and be sure to mention on promotional materials that your business and guards are fully licensed.