Guarding the Public: A Statutory Analysis of State Regulation of Security Guards


There is wide variation among states in the type of behavior that disqualifies individuals from becoming a security guard. There is also variation among states with respect to the minimum requirements for becoming a security guard. Roughly one-third of the states require that applicants be either citizens or legal residents of the United States. One half of the states have a minimum age requirement. The most common minimum age for both armed and unarmed security guards is eighteen years; however some states have different age requirements depending upon whether or not the guard is armed. For example, the minimum age in Delaware is twenty for unarmed guards and twenty-one for armed guards.

As a general indicator, 66 percent of states regulated private security guard services in some manner in 1981. Presently, 82 percent of states regulate private security at the employee level. This is a positive sign, but it should be reiterated that there is a vast difference between regulation levels among the states. What passes for regulation in some states is little more than asking applicants to promise that they are qualified to be a security guard.


Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Journal of Crime and Justice