State Legislators Address ‘Hodgepodge’ Of Policies On Private Guards


At an Iowa mall, a security guard allegedly shot and killed a woman who worked at a children's museum. At a Kentucky distillery, a security guard accepted money from thieves to look the other way while they stole $100,000 in expensive whiskey. in a Virginia hospital, a 64-year-old man suffered a serious head injury and later died after a violent altercation with a security guard. Stateline says incidents like these have drawn fresh attention to the screening, training and state oversight of private security officers, and have prompted some legislators to push for stricter regulation. The efforts have been largely unsuccessful this year.

“We've got to feel comfortable that people who have a badge on are, in fact, trained—and trained well,” said Michigan state Sen. Darwin Booher, a Republican who sponsored a set of bills that would update regulations on security guards in the state. About 90 bills were introduced in state legislatures this year dealing with the licensing and training of security officers or requirements for security companies, says Steve Amitay of the National Association of Security Companies (NASCO). Forty-one states and the District of Columbia, license security officers, but requirements vary greatly from state to state. Alaska, for example, mandates 48 hours of training initially, plus another eight hours in firearms training for armed guards. South Carolina requires four hours of training and an additional four for those who carry a gun. “It's a hodgepodge. It's an extreme variety of approaches,” said Charles Nemeth of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Center for Private Security and Safety.

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