DENVER (KDVR) – Denver alone has more licensed security personnel than the state of New Mexico, but Colorado’s numbers as a whole are unknowable – it doesn’t regulate security licensure.
The fatal shooting of a protester on Oct. 9 by an unlicensed armed security guard in Denver has provoked discussions about occupational licensing.
Shooter Matthew Dolloff was working as private security for 9NEWS. A FOX31 investigation found the city had never issued Dolloff a license, prompting a blame circle among 9NEWS, the Pinkerton security firm they hired, and the subcontractor Pinkerton hired who employed Dolloff.
Security regulation varies considerably from state to state. Some states have no statewide regulations. Instead, licensing is left to local authorities.
While Denver has strict licensing requirements for security guards, Colorado is one of only 12 states that has no state-level regulation on protection professions.
State regulation, however, does not necessarily mean state licensure for individual security officers.
States differ in their approach. Some will require state licenses for individual armed and unarmed security guards, some only require state-level registration without a license, and some require only businesses to be licensed while individual security employees need only follow company guidelines.
Local occupational licensing practices can differ even more wildly. Some cities issue licenses, some cede that responsibility to local police departments, and some have no requirements at all.
Denver’s licensing, while one of the most stringent in the country, shows a larger security presence than other areas.
Denver has more active security guard licenses than New Mexico and almost as many as Utah.
In Colorado, only a handful of localities issue licenses. Denver has more than four times the amount of individual security licenses as Colorado Springs.
Denver has far more individual licenses per capita than neighboring states and cities. There are 895 security licenses per every 100,000 residents. This is roughly four times the average security license per capita in Colorado Springs, Utah, New Mexico, and Topeka, Kansas.
With the defunding of police departments in the national conversation, security professionals say citizens simply shift to private security instead of taxpayer funded police.
“Law enforcement has had many cuts and private security have been filling in those gaps,” said Rick McCann, president and founder of Private Officer International.
“The U.S. Department of Labor says there’s about 1.35 million. Our estimates are a lot higher – about 1.6 million – because many security agents are not regulated or licensed. 1.6 million security officers out there. That’s twice the amount of police officers currently, with all agencies considered.”