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Guard bill update.

If Congress had a motto, it might be "So little time, so many bills." Since January, House and Senate members have introduced more than 5,400 legislative proposals. That may explain why H.R. 1534, the guard officer training bill, has yet to get the attention from Congress that it has generated in the press and among guard companies.

The bill remains, however, a top priority of its chief sponsor, Rep. Matthew Martinez (D-CA), whose House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Human Resources was expected to meet Sept. 23 to consider several revisions (the meeting had not been held as Security Management went to press). The legislation, which would require states to establish licensing programs for both proprietary and contract security officers, including minimum training standards and background checks, will also go before the Judiciary Committee. The main concern there will be access to FBI files, which will be needed for criminal records checks of guard force candidates.

"Access to the |FBI~ data is a civil rights issue," says Les Sweeting, staff director of the Human Resources Subcommittee who is spearheading Martinez's efforts. As a result, guard companies are unlikely to get direct access to those files. One option is that states will be given the information and employers will be told only that a license is granted or denied. "You just need to know whether to hire |applicants~," Sweeting told a recent gathering of the National Association of Security Companies (formerly CONSCO), which supports the Martinez legislation.

In response to complaints that the bill does not go far enough, Sweeting says, "We are only trying to set minimum guidelines." He says that any final bill will give states maximum latitude and will require funding by the industry.

Sweeting says revisions to be considered by the Human Resources Subcommittee will include extending coverage to armored car personnel, granting a waiver for off-duty police officers working as private security officers, and broadening the definition of security officer to include employees with other designations who perform security officer functions, such as guarding a loading dock.

Sweeting told the security group that it must build a broader support base if the bill is to gain the momentum it needs to pass through the House. He encouraged members to woo other major organizations, such as those representing governors, unions, businesses, attorneys general, and chiefs of police.

As of late August, the bill only had fifteen co-sponsors. "We need a lot more," says Sweeting.
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Title Annotation:Security Spotlight; guard officer training bill H.R. 1534
Author:Arbetter, Lisa
Publication:Security Management
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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