Being a security officer can be a rewarding and challenging career for someone who has an interest in protecting others. Besides the reward that...
Security Guard Firm State Audits: Causes & Responses
Sooner or later, every contract security firm gets audited for compliance. It may be the result of a security-related incident involving your staff, or it may just be luck of the draw. In this article learn about several possible triggers to a contract security firm state audit, and how best to respond.
My contract security firm is being audited by the state. Should I be worried?
That depends. Are you knowingly out of compliance? If not, probably not. Periodic security guard firm compliance state audits are normal; like a restaurant health inspection, a weights and measures check at a gas station, or ensuring a hairstylist’s or therapist’s license to practice is current and on display.
Inspections are part of every states’ effort to ensure the health and safety of its citizens: That public services are being provided by certified practitioners, that we get what we pay for, that the kitchens in which our meals are prepared are clean, as well as the background checks of the security guards we trust.
Security guard services fall under the umbrella of public safety and thus private contract security firms are subject to rules and standards set forth by the state(s) in which they operate. Whether patrolling a shopping mall parking lot, managing crowd control at a big game, or staffing the corporate reception desk, private security guards are more than likely to be the first responders to any incident at their assigned post.
They may be called upon to de-escalate a situation with an angry visitor or customer, provide first aid, detain shoplifters or hold participants in a fight until law enforcement arrives. As such, security guard firms are regulated by state authorities to ensure individuals are licensed and trained to act appropriately before police get involved.
But why are they auditing me? I didn’t do anything wrong.
First, it may not be about you—directly. It could be that one of your officers’ or firearm instructors’ license has expired, or an incident occurred at a post. But they are uniformed representatives your company, so you are liable for their status and actions when on shift.
Second, while state inspectors want to make sure you are compliant with local laws, they are not your enemy. Sure, they will issue fines for violations if found, but the purpose of an audit is not necessarily to penalize security guard firms. Rather, it is to help insulate the firm and its guards against damages and lawsuits arising from carrying out their duties, and making sure the firm has adequate liability insurance in the event of an incident.
Here's a list of some of the more common triggers for a security firm compliance audit:
- A customer or employee witnessed one of your security guards mistreating another individual or acting unprofessionally while on duty and lodged a complaint with the state licensing authority.
- A state field inspector made an unannounced visit to the guard booth and found the officer on duty was not carrying his license.
- Your firm did its due diligence by voluntarily reporting a firearm discharge.
- The state authority is notified through law enforcement, legal channels, or insurance entities of one of your officer’s participation in an incident involving a civilian.
- The state licensing agency has not received notice of certification renewal for one or more of your active guards or instructors.
- Your firm was audited in the not too distant past and the state is conducting a follow-up investigation to ensure identified compliance issues were corrected.
- One of your guards made the local nightly news for stopping a crime and is being lauded as a hero.
- A disgruntled former employee called the state licensing agency to cause trouble.
Any one of these reasons—good or bad—is a red flag for the licensing authorities to take notice and initiate a compliance audit. Or again, it just might be your turn. It’s part of the agency’s mission to monitor every security firm. Best to get everything in order now.
What are the inspectors looking for?
Generally, if the purpose for the audit is a periodic compliance review, the inspectors will want to see that:
- all security guards are currently licensed and have clean background checks on file.
- all instructors, especially firearm instructors, are up to date on training certifications.
- the guard firm is compliant with state regulations for the minimum hours of pre-license training and continuing
- education for security officers to earn and maintain their Guard Card.
- the guard firm is doing its due diligence in storing training certificates and incident reports.
- the guard firm has adequate general liability insurance as determined by the state.
If the audit is in response to a specific incident, or names one or more officers in an individual complaint, be sure to have all records pertaining to the event and related officer(s) credentials at the ready in addition to the above.
What can I do to help the audit process?
In a word, cooperate. Not exactly sure why you are being audited? Find out. Call the state licensing agency to clarify the cause.
Once you have the “why?” be open, proactive, and show a willingness to correct the problem. Gather your proof of compliance, training, insurance information, and incident reports. Have the documents ready in an organized format for the inspector to review.
Making inspectors dig through incomplete and messy personnel folders for information that should be readily available will only create animosity and increase the likelihood of fines and penalties. Part of the Defencify platform is designed to prevent exactly that.
In addition to delivering state-certified, self-paced, online security guard training, the Defencify platform includes a cloud-based records portal that stores and organizes all critical employee records, licenses, and certification documentation indefinitely and at no cost. So when an audit happens—and it will—you’ll have instant access to a secure database of complete employee profiles to prove compliance and insulate yourself from the threat of fines, penalties, and lawsuits.