Deadline for security guard certification July 1
Security guards will be required to meet training requirements and to clear background checks July 1 with the majority of guards and the state rushing to meet the deadline for a law passed three years ago by the Legislature.
The law, Act 208, requires private investigators, guards and others employed to “act in a guard capacity” to:
* Be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
* Attend eight hours of instruction, pass a written test and undergo four hours of on-the-job training supervised by a board-approved guard.
* Pass criminal and psychological background checks.
* Register with the private detective and guard board within the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional and Vocational Licensing Division.
Certified guards are required to complete four hours of classroom training annually in order to keep their certification.
“It may seem like a lot, but it’s the kinds of things they ought to know,” said state Sen. Roz Baker, who represents South and West Maui, of the bill she introduced.
“It’s really something that should’ve been a part of the guarding profession before.”
Baker, who is chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, said that the committee sought to “upgrade the guarding industry.”
“The standards were really low, and there were complaints about guards not knowing what they’re doing,” she said in a phone interview Thursday. “There just wasn’t a lot of education for them, and I think that was really the most concerning thing. . . . If there was a potentially life-threatening situation, they had no idea what to do.
“We wanted to make sure, not only that the public was safe but the guards as well.”
The introduction of the law has caused some security companies to seek certified trainers, such as Paul Winters of Impact-HI LLC, to meet the requirements. The Maui-based company co-founded by Winters has helped register more than 300 security guards at condominiums and hotels across the state.
“I think it’s a great law,” said Winters, who is a retired Maui police captain. “It’s one of the industries that’s never been regulated – it’s like put on a uniform and start working for somebody.”
His company, which charges $55 per person for the eight-hour training course, puts on the course at a venue arranged by the company, and either he or fellow co-founder and instructor Al Fleming lead the training. Winters said that one of their larger sessions was at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, where they trained about 30 guards at the mall and other companies, in a session that ran until 1 a.m.
“I think if we’re going to license somebody and regulate them for giving you a massage at the Grand Wailea, we certainly should have our security people licensed,” he said.
The state security guard board had to approve the curriculum for the course provided by Winters and other certified trainers. The course covers legal limitations for guards, emergency response procedures, Homeland Security issues and the fundamentals of patrolling.
It’s not only the security guards who are rushing to meet the new law. DCCA did not establish a curriculum and procedure for the registration process until late last year, despite the passage of the law three years ago. Charlene Tamanaha, executive officer of the security guard board, pointed to the difficulties of standardizing education material for security personnel at condominiums, hotels, stores, school campuses and bars.
“We were trying to make something generic that everybody should know,” she said. “Of course, when you get hired you’re going to have specific protocol with your agency, but this provides an initial base training.”
The DCCA estimates that more than 10,000 guards in the state fall under the requirements, but, as of Thursday, the agency has received only about 3,500 applications.
“It’s going to take a while,” Tamanaha said of the process. “Of course, we’ve received the bulk of the applications in June.”
Made up of police chiefs, licensed security officers and public officials, the security guard board is tasked with reviewing each application – most notably an applicant’s criminal record, which takes time to investigate and to determine if an incident may be a disqualifying factor.
“Our staff has been working overtime, nightly and on weekends,” Tamanaha said in a phone interview Saturday.
According to the new law, there is no grace period, meaning that those who have not received a “guard employee registration card” by July 1 cannot start or resume work.
Tamanaha said that the board is discussing whether those who applied and met all of the requirements by the July 1 deadline can be certified.
“The board, at this point, wants to help those that have applied and are seeking registration,” she said.
Craig Tanaka, president of the Maui County Hotel and Resort Security Association, noted that the curriculum for the security guard course came out about two years after the act was passed but was understanding of the board’s delay.
“A lot of people are wondering why did the DCCA wait so long,” he said. “Everybody is pointing their fingers and they’re really not the ones at fault. They were just trying to do the best they could when the law was just dropped in their lap.”
The University of Hawaii Maui College is working with the board to help security guards fulfill the requirements, including offering courses. Tanaka, who is an assistant security manager with the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, is one of four instructors with the UH-Maui College program. In addition to teaching the basics to security guards, they also are made aware and guided through other requirements, such as the $64 fingerprinting fee and a $73 registration fee.
EdVenture, a program within the college’s Office of Continuing Education and Training, provides the $45 class every Thursday, but due to the approaching deadline, the campus will offer an additional class Wednesday.
“It’s the cheapest class we offer by far,” class coordinator Eva Bondar said. “I’m sure the guards are under a lot of stress with the deadline and testing and everything, so as long as people want to attend I will schedule classes.”
Although most agencies have covered the fees associated with the registration process – which can run at least $200 a guard – Tom Phillips, a part-time security guard, feels the amount of time alloted to classes is a “little excessive.”
Phillips, a retired chief of police with the Maui Police Department, agrees with the concept of the new law but would like to see some exemptions given to those with substantial amounts of law enforcement-related experience.
Retired police officers working at state airports and active police officers working security are the only guards exempt from the requirements.
“I think the intent is good because it ensures that all security people have at least some form of basic training and ongoing training,” said Phillips, who spent 11 years as chief and a total of 33 years with the Maui Police Department. “But I would probably recommend that if you spent so many years in law enforcement and left in good standing, then you could be exempt from the class.
“Even for those in the security profession, I can’t see someone who’s worked 10 years have to go through training again.”
Charles Hirata, a retired police captain of 33 years, expressed a similar concern and also would like the law “tweaked.”
Despite teaching an administration of justice course at the college, the part-time security guard at Carl’s Jr. in Maalaea was one of the guards who attended the training course hosted by Winters at the shopping center last month.
“You want to know that the security people can pass a background check to ensure public safety,” he said. “But I think there should be exemptions because, in reality, I think I could teach this class.”
Baker and the DCCA acknowledged the frustration of retired police officers but noted the differences in authority between law enforcement and security personnel.
“I’m sure there are certain areas we can have the board and I look at,” Baker said. “I’m never opposed to taking a look to see if there are tweaks that need to be made. . . . But we need to make sure that guards, in this day and age, have a level of professionalism that put themselves out as a protective person. There needs to be a base of education and training.”
For more information on the new security guard requirements, go to hawaii.gov/dcca/pvl/boards/private/
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at email@example.com.