Security Management And Practices

Security Company Lies about Its Background Investigations and Training; Airport Screeners Were Felons

In 2000, it was reported that fourteen screeners, hired in the past few years by Argenbright Security Inc., the largest provider of airport security personnel in the United States, to search carry-on bags at Philadelphia International Airport, had been convicted of felonies, including aggravated assault, robbery, theft, and fire- arms violations prior to being hired. Argenbright Security pleaded guilty to two felonies and agreed to pay $1.2 million in fines and costs.

Two dozen screeners hired by Argenbright either never took the written test for their jobs or passed the test because the company falsified their results or provided them with the answers. Instead of the company’s required twelve-hour training course, managers routinely showed screeners a forty-five-minute videotape. Six of these screeners lacked high school diplomas, but the managers falsified their records to show they had high school equivalency degrees. In other cases, requirements than those of unarmed guards be- cause of greater insurance liability risks associated with carrying a firearm. Compared to unarmed guards, armed guards and special police typically enjoy higher earnings and benefits, greater job security, and more advancement potential, and they usually are given more training and responsibility.

Recently, rigorous hiring and screening pro- grams consisting of background, criminal re- cord, and fingerprint checks are becoming the norm in the occupation. In most states, applicants are expected to have good character references and no serious police records and be in good health. They should be mentally alert, emotionally stable, and physically fit in order to cope with emergencies. Guards who have frequent contact with the public are expected to communicate well.

Regarding private detective and investigator jobs, most require no formal education, although many private detectives have college degrees. Private detectives and investigators typically have previous experience in other occupations. Some work initially for insurance or collections

the company altered potential employee histories to account for undocumented gaps in their work histories that might have indicated unlawful employment or time spent in prison or jail.

One employee had been arrested twenty-three times between 1990 and 1993. Another had eight arrests and three convictions, including drug violations, criminal conspiracy, receiving stolen property, and illegal firearms possession.

At the time, Argenbright had twenty-four thou- sand airport employees, mostly screeners, and also had skycaps with access to sensitive areas. It had thirteen hundred employees at the Philadelphia airport alone. At that time, prior to 9/11, airline companies were responsible for security at the airports but generally contracted out the job to companies like Argenbright.

E X H I B I T 2 . 5 ASIS International Private Security Officer Selection and Training Guidelines


• Establish a regulatory body, operating under the direction and within the framework of a state agency.

• Establish fees commensurate with the effort necessary to process applications for registration/licensure/ renewal to be used by the regulating body to manage the department and enforce the regulations. Enforcement should include inspection, administrative fines for violation of the state statute, and the implementation of regulations, sanctions, and criminal violations in certain instances.

• Require licenses for licensees/agencies/in-charge/ qualifying agents (e.g., education, experience, written exam).

• Establish minimum requirements for agency/licensee- in-charge liability insurance (e.g., minimum of $1 million per occurrence).

• Require regulating bodies to issue private security officer registration/licenses, which should include a photo- graph and other relevant identification information.

• Require registration/licensure of all private security officers.

• Require all candidates to pass a background investigation before assignment as a security officer.

• Require private security officer training (e.g., orientation/pre-assignment; on-the-job; ongoing/re- fresher/annual courses).

• Establish additional training requirements for armed security officer training (e.g., classroom, range safety, course-of-fire, re-certification policy, instructor qualifications, etc.).


• At least eighteen years of age for unarmed; and twenty-one years of age for armed, with provisions that the candidate must be able to perform the duties required of the position.

• Must be a citizen or national of the United States, a lawful permanent resident, or an alien authorized to work.

• Candidate must submit current and previous addresses and phone numbers for the last seven years.

• Verify applicant’s name, address history, criminal record checks, and social security number.

• Must possess high school diploma or GED or equivalent. Also, the applicant should demonstrate an ability to read, write, and speak English and the language/s most appropriate to his or her assigned duties. Additionally, consideration may be given to the administration of a validated aptitude test for security officer applicants.

• Must not have been convicted of or pled guilty or nole contendere to a felony or job-related crime

immediately preceding a minimum seven-year period. Any felony conviction discovered in the course of conducting the search should also be considered relevant to the candidate’s qualifications for the position. Armed security candidates must not have been convicted of a state or federal misdemeanor involving the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.

• Verify candidate’s current and previous employers’ addresses and phone numbers for at least the last seven years.

• Verify the candidate-provided license, registration, credential, or certification information against the appropriate agency. Compare given information with that given by the agency. Note any negative license actions or sanctions.

• Must submit fingerprint card or electronic fingerprint for criminal record check.

• Pre-employment—Undergo a drug screen test. • Post-employment—random drug testing, where per-

mitted by state law and employer policy. It should be conducted by using a valid random testing methodology.

• Submit two current photos for identification and licensing.


• Forty-eight hours of training not to exceed the first one hundred days of employment.

• Pass a written and/or performance examination to demonstrate knowledge of subject matter and qualification to perform basic duties of a private security officer. Training should include the following core training topics.

Training Topics

• Nature and role of private security officers • Security awareness of private security officers and the

criminal justice system, information sharing, crime and loss prevention

• Legal aspects of private security, including evidence and evidence handling; use of force and force continuum; court testimony; incident scene preservation; equal employment opportunity (EEO) and diversity; state and local laws

• Security officer conduct, including ethics, honesty, professional image

• Observation and incident reporting, including observation techniques, note taking, report writing; patrol techniques

• Principles of communication, including interpersonal skills, verbal communication skills, customer service, and public relations

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