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Is your Security Provider Licensed and Certified?

By asking these five questions, you can reduce liability for your client and inspire their confidence in you as their trusted security adviser.

Many clients and client representatives are either unaware or misinformed about the licensing requirements for their contracted security service. Besides business licensing requirements, every security company’s guards and protectors – from the uniformed mall cop to the sharp‐dressed bodyguard – must possess required certifications and permits for their particular state. Yet, over the years I’ve gained awareness of unlicensed security firms and their uncertified protectors – both of which place their unsuspecting clients at risk of liability.

Consequences for Hiring Unlicensed and Uncertified Protectors

The ramifications for hiring an unlicensed security company or uncertified protector can range from minor fines to serious consequences. On the minor side, hiring unlicensed security can result in fines up to $5000 for each violation. On the serious end, insurance policies can be voided, employees who “vetted” and hired the unlicensed security provider can be held accountable by their employers, and the client themselves – whether an enterprise or individual – are left with legal bills and additional fines.

Consider these scenarios: A protector arrests an intruder on his/her client’s property or engages an intruder with his/her firearm. When police arrive and ask for the protector’s credentials, they discover…

  • The protector has an expired guard card or firearms permit.
  • The protector is certified, yet, their security firm’s license has expired.
  • The protector shows an up‐to‐date firearms permit, however, the police investigation reveals the protector has not qualified with their firearm during the past 6 months, as required by the state of California. (Each state has their own certification laws.)

If the above scenarios are making you a bit nervous, here are some questions I encourage you to ask your security provider:

5 Questions for your Security Providers

1. Are you licensed to operate in every state and country you are based?

Please show me [the licenses].

2. Do you have a formal compliance division that tracks required licensing and certifications?

Please show me.

3. Do your protectors possess up‐to‐date security licenses (i.e. “guard cards”)?

Please show me.

4. Do your protectors possess up‐to‐date firearms permits or CCWs?

Please show me.

5. Do your protectors possess CPR, First Aid, and AED medical certifications?

Please show me.

Verify your Protectors

In California, this verification tab helps ensure your protectors possess an up‐to‐date guard card and firearms permit. (Many other states have their own verification tabs.)

5 Licenses and Certifications Inside their wallet

Though every state is different, here are some of the licenses protectors are expected or required to carry in California:

1. Guard Card – At a minimum, every security guard, bodyguard, and protector must possess this license. Protectors receive their guard card after successfully completing 40 hours of basic security guard training by a state‐certified instructor and a state‐certified training facility.

2. Firearms Permit – If you hire armed security, verify they have a current firearms permit and the caliber on the permit matches the firearm caliber they carry.

3. Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) – Issued to private persons after passing an extensive screening and authorizing the carrying of a concealed firearm (caliber noted) for that state.

4. CPR / AED / First Aid — Though typically not required by states for security professionals, our firm requires it. Most emergencies our protectors handle are medical emergencies involving our clients. Consequently, at a minimum (as many are licensed EMTs), we require our protectors to remain certified in CPR, AED, and emergency First Aid.

5. Non‐Lethal Weapons. Though carrying (small amounts) of pepper spray is legal, carrying pepper spray as a security guard, according to the state of California, requires training from a state‐approved training facility. Additionally, TASERs are also legal to carry in most states (and without training); however, protectors trained in TASER employment can mitigate obvious liability concerns for their client.

Off-Duty Police Officers – Not Automatically Certified

When hiring off‐duty police officers for security purposes in California (again, check your specific state), a guard card and firearms permit are still required. The only replacement for a firearms permit is a written permission from the officer’s police department, authorizing that officer to carry his/her weapon while performing the duties of a security guard or protector. Read more here.

Due Diligence – Earning a Client’s Trust and Confidence

By asking the above questions, along with verifying your security provider and their guards’ licenses and certifications, you can reduce liability for your client and inspire their confidence in you as their trusted security adviser.

Castulo Baca is the Senior Director of GDBA’s Compliance Division and manages our firm’s licensing requirements throughout the world, while his division ensures each and every GDBA associate is certified and up to date on all national and state training requirements, as well as compliant with GDBA’s own internally mandated training and certification programs. Throughout his tenure at GDBA, Castulo has also spearheaded policies for GDBA’s global protective services with a primary focus on high‐risk security operations in Central and South America. Prior to joining our firm, Castulo served seven years in the United States Marine Corps.

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