On Guard

State's resources woefully inadequate for regulating private security guards

Separate from the pending legislation, DPS plans to implement a new $600,000 electronic fingerprinting system by October that would reduce to less than a week the time it takes for FBI background checks for security guard applicants.

Mike Timmerman, DPS manager of the applicant processing group in the criminal justice support division, says the new system will allow DPS to electronically transmit fingerprints to the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprinting Identification System.

The system will be used to screen the fingerprints of about 225,000 people a year for jobs ranging from day-care providers to taxicab drivers to teachers. There are about 10,000 new security guard fingerprint applicants each year.

State-licensed private security guards are issued this identification badge.
Hector Acuña
State-licensed private security guards are issued this identification badge.

The electronic fingerprinting technology, along with passage of Gray's bill, would allow DPS to reduce, or eliminate, the issuance of provisional security guard licenses.

"My intent is to remove those provisional licenses," Burns says.

One of the state's largest private security companies, Burns International Security Services (no relation to Lieutenant Burns), supports reducing the number of provisional guard licenses issued, says Barry Johnson, area vice president.

"The less time they are out there with provisional licenses, the better," Johnson says.

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