A security guard is an individual who offers protection to private sector contractors who seek their services at a fee. Historians posit that this profession precedes public law enforcement, as wealthy aristocrats in the Middle Ages were charged with the protection of their own property. As a result, the role of private security grew and evolved into today’s perception of security guards. Despite being employed in the private sector, centralized governments pass the laws and regulations that monitor this profession. The requirements for security license or for admission into this profession and limitations on their powers vary in different jurisdictions. In spite of these variances, some powers and functions of security guards recur in most jurisdictions. The most common functions of security guards include: being on the lookout for suspicious activity, deterrence of any inappropriate activity, prevention of trespassing upon private property and reporting of suspicious activity to public law enforcement agencies.
Individuals willing to work as security guards in private establishments have to satisfy the qualifications provided in their respective jurisdictions. Most jurisdictions submit that the first step for the individual is applying for a license from the appropriate licensing body. For instance, security guard licensing in the State of New York is conducted by the Division of Licensing Services. However, before applicants can successfully be registered under the NYS Division of Licensing Services, they have to fulfill a series of requirements prescribed the body. One of the most important conditions an applicant should satisfy before registration as a private security officer is attaining the age of majority. The applicant(s) must be at least 18 years of age before they can be registered as security guards in New York. Although most states in the US provide that their applicants should be 18 years of age, few others require their applicants to have reached 21 years of age. An example of a state that requires its security guards to have reached the 21-year old threshold is Arkansas.
Another major requirement for security license in the State of New York is that the applicant ought to be a citizen of the United States or a resident foreigner in the country. This requirement is made to ensure applicants reside in the proximity of the State, and as such fall under its legal jurisdiction. At large, all states in the US provide that applicants for security guard positions must at least be citizens or lawful residents in the country.
For licensing and registration as a security guard in New York State, applicants must undergo a compulsory background check at the hands of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The purpose of these background checks is to ensure that the applicants have no criminal background. Discovery of crime in the background checks may amount to grounds for denial of licensing as a security guard. However, this isn’t always the case as applicants get a chance to plead their case and explain their position. Beyond the State of New York, all other states in the US have to run background checks on applicants who desire to work as private security officers. New York state law also provides that applicants for security guards’ positions should oblige to fingerprint scanning, via L-1 Enrollment services. Fingerprinting enables the State to upload relevant information pertaining to the applicants.
Before an applicant can be registered and licensed to work as a security guard, they must also satisfy all training requirements. Different states have varying training requirements in aspects such as the length of the training period and where to get the training from. In the state of New York, an applicant must have completed an eight-hour training program before applying for registration. To verify whether the assignment was completed, a certificate must be issued by the applicant(s) to the NY Division of Licensing Services at the instance of an initial application. The Division of Licensing then provides that the applicants should receive a further sixteen-hour training period within their first three months on the job.
It is worth noting that these requirements are issued by the Division of Licensing in the state of New York, and are binding to all unarmed security guards in the State. On the other hand, armed security guards are bound by these basic requirements for security license coupled with a few special requirements. Beyond the basic requirements, armed guards are also required to hold a legitimate New York pistol license. Aside from the basic training programs, they are also required to undertake further training that specializes in firearms. The State recommends firearms training programs that run for 47 hours. The Division of Licensing in New York accepts training certificates from any bona fide security guard schools in the State. Unlike many states, New York does not disqualify security guards based on academic merit.