Guard association sets 2006 agenda

Thursday, January 26, 2006

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--Ten states currently have no certification or regulations regarding the hiring and employment of private security officers. "It's shocking," said National Association of Security Companies executive director Joseph Ricci, "and most people don't know that." Including integrators and alarm companies, which, with the increase in verification standards, are increasingly teaming with guard companies to provide commercial and residential solutions.
It shouldn't be surprising then that NASCO, the organization that represents 45 percent of the contract guarding market, used its mid-January general membership meeting to frame a 2006 agenda that includes targeting these 10 states, with hopes of getting legislation passed to regulate their industry. Specifically, said Ricci, Colorado and Mississippi are in the crosshairs.
"It's mostly an education effort," said Ricci. State legislators are often "not aware there's no regulation, and people don't always welcome new regulation." Regulation means organization and enforcement and that often costs money. Thus, NASCO is developing sample legislation and getting it in the hands of state lawmakers.
"We're not looking for a ton of training," said Ricci. "In Mississippi, for instance, we're just looking for 12 hours." In Washington, D.C., NASCO is looking for eight initial hours, and eight hours in the second year.
Even this small amount, however, reduces liability and raises the standards of the companies involved, Ricci said. "There's an expectation if someone sees someone in uniform that it means something," he said. "In some states that doesn't mean that much. We want to change that. It's a trust issue."
The 2006 effort comes on the heels of a new federal law passed last year, the Private Security Officer Employment Authorization Act, which provided security companies with access to the FBI database for background checks. Already, said Ricci, one in 10 applicants are coming back with hits on the federal database that wouldn't have been uncovered otherwise.

See the March issue of Security Systems News for reaction from local guarding companies and state legislators.