New NY licensing law in effect

Friday, February 1, 2008

ALBANY, New York--After 15 years of work by the NYBFAA and others, the state of New York passed last year an amendment to Article 6D of the General Business law giving the State Department's Division of Licensing Services the power to fine unlicensed security practitioners up to $10,000.
The law was signed by Gov. Spitzer Aug. 1, 2007, and went into effect Nov. 1. Despite a prediction by NYBFAA president-elect Ron Petrarca that the state department would be "inundated with complaints," there was, as of Jan. 7, just one security company being investigated: Supreme Security Services, of Staten Island.
"It's being pursued," said Eamon Moynihan, Deputy Secretary of State for Public Information. "It's been remanded to the legal division." He said the case can be settled at that level, either dismissed or with a fine issued, following an investigator's findings, or the legal division can issue a public complaint, which would then be heard by an administrative law judge.
A call to Supreme resulted in a promise that a lawyer would call Security Systems News, but no call was received.
Petrarca is more interested in the bigger picture, however. "Up until the law was passed," he said, "the NYBFAA was the unofficial watchdog for the industry because the state wasn't doing anything," saying it didn't have any enforcement powers over unlicensed operators. He said the passing of the law was met with great enthusiasm at his organization, and at an Oct. 19 meeting of the New York State Security or Fire Alarm Installer Advisory Committee, the NYBFAA promised to forward as many as 85 complaints to the Secretary of State's office.
"After they digested that," Petrarca laughed, "they said, 'Gee, maybe we should be looking at this.'" The Division of Licensing Services created a complaint form and the NYBFAA has distributed it to its members.
Petrarca said unlicensed security operators present a real homeland security threat. "By operating without a license," he said, "they are in the consumers' domain without a background check or anything else. You have no idea where they're coming from."
He said his state's Homeland Security office was a real asset in changing the state law, and he encourages other state associations looking to implement more stringent licensing laws to work with their Homeland Security offices. "Had we not had the unfortunate situation of 9/11," Petrarca said, "I don't think they would have looked at us twice, but we went to them and said, 'Everyone else has to have a background check, and you've got all these guys running around unlicensed and they're a threat ... Are they felons or not? It's important to know that the person that you let into your home or business isn't going to come back and hold you up.'"