Nebraska proposes security licensing act, standards for guards

The act would make training and criminal history checks mandatory for security guards working within the state
Friday, April 1, 2005

OMAHA, Neb. - Stan Williams had been a state trooper for more than 27 years, but when he retired two years ago, he couldn’t leave the business of helping and serving his community. He then started a guard company here called Blue Knight Armored Security Service. It was during his tenure there that Williams observed a difference between the state’s police and security guard industry. Specifically, that the guard industry isn’t regulated.

But standards for the state’s 50 guard companies might soon be in sight after a partnership with a senator and security industry leaders. In January, the state senate introduced the Security Personnel Licensing Act proposal to the government, military and veterans affairs committee hearing. The committee voted to move the proposal into general file where the draft is waiting a first round of debate.

Williams approached Sen. Elaine Stuhr, a year and one-half ago after talking with industry members outside of the state about Nebraska’s lack of guard licensing procedures. The group drafted a bill requiring security guards to complete a standardized training course and pass criminal history checks.

“The state bill will make background checks mandatory to ensure an individual has not been convicted of unlawful conduct in a recent time period,” said Jessica Kolterman, a legislative aide to Sen. Stuhr.

Security officials will meet basic training that the state plans to establish by Jan. 1, 2006, if the bill gets passed, Kolterman added.

The senate has until April 2006 to pass the bill, but the state chapter of ASIS International and Sen. Stuhr, who were both instrumental in organizing it, hope the bill will pass this session, which ends in June.

The move to regulation in the state is propelled from the new Private Security Officer Employment Authorization Act, a national bill under the National Intelligence Reform Act passed in January that permits the industry indirect access to criminal history information of contact and proprietary security guard applicants.

Mike Noyes, a security manager at Borsheims Jewelry Co. Inc. and an ASIS member, wants the bill to emulate what other states already have for security guard acts.

“The bill will instill a minimal level, so the end user can be assured the person performing those functions has a minimal level of training,” Noyes said.

The bill will open the door to professionalism for security officers, added Noyes.

Williams noted some security companies do a good job of background checks when hiring, but feels standards are necessary.

“The vast majority of security officers are dedicated and do the best the job they can,” he said. “This bill is a way to place tools, training and knowledge just to have the basic ground work training to do their jobs.”