NBFAA stymied in attempts to broaden background check legislation

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003

SILVER SPRING, Md. - Attempts by the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association to broaden the content of the Private Security Officer Employment Authorization Act of 2003 to include criminal background checks on personnel beyond private security personnel has been unsuccessful so far.

Dave Johnson, government affairs director for NBFAA, based here, said although organization members have met with Senate Judiciary Committee representatives to discuss altering Senate Bill 769, “we’ve not made headway.”

“While we don’t oppose this bill (S.769), we don’t want to support it when there’s a gap,” Johnson said.

NBFAA would like to broaden the bill’s scope to allow private security companies to conduct criminal background checks on technicians, dealers, monitoring personnel and others beyond private security officers.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., in the first session of the 108th Congress, defines a private security officer as “an individual other than an employee of a federal, state or local government whose primary duty is to perform security services, full- or part-time, for consideration, whether armed or unarmed and in uniform or plain clothes.”

Excluded under the terms of the bill, as it stands, are employees whose duties involve internal audit or credit functions, employees of electronic security system companies acting as technicians or monitors, and employees who primarily secure the movement of prisoners.

According to an NBFAA Government Affairs Committee report written by Chairperson Emil Wengel, “while states would have the ability to opt out of this program, the bill would allow the framework for NBFAA members in states that don’t require background checks to get them.”

Johnson said this is critical because “without the infrastructure in place, there’s no way (for state’s without a current background check program) to get them.”

He said the main sticking point over altering the bill are concerns voiced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation “about capacity issues.”

The FBI, he noted, which is using a newer database system for background checks, “says it would have a tough time handling all the background checks” under the wider definition of security officer.

While Johnson said his feeling is the bill will likely die in committee, NBFAA is already looking for new sponsors for broader legislation. “With 769 we really made a press,” he said. “But we’ll definitely go back (to trying again).”

He added NBFAA also is talking with other security associations “to get a feel for where they stand.”