Note: This particular article references NYS laws and regulations that may or may not apply to other States.
David R. Connors
SCHOOL SECURITY PERSONNEL
Registration, Training, and Licensing
In New York State, employees engaged in traditional security guard tasks (prevention, deterrence, control, and enforcement) for more than 50 percent of their regularly scheduled work hours are security guards by definition. As such, they must be trained, and licensed by the State regardless of their Civil Service or local title. In other words, if an employee looks like a security guard, walks and talks like a security guard …you get the point. (General Business Law, Article 7, Section 71)
Security guard applicants are required to successfully complete an initial 8-hour training course, submit a formal application (along with fees), and submit to a fingerprint/criminal record check. Within 90 days of being hired as a security guard, they must complete a 16-hour on-the-job training course, and each calendar year thereafter, attend an 8-hour refresher training course.
Active police officers working as security guards do
not need to register with the State. Retired police officers are considered
civilians and, therefore, must register and might need to complete the required
training. (Police officers retired less
than 10 years are generally exempt from the training requirements.)
Any private or public entity, including public school
districts, employing individuals, other than peace or (active) police officers,
to perform security services is regulated by the New York State Department of
State. School districts that employ security guards must comply with the requirements
of the NYS Security Guard Act of 1992.
Districts must submit a Proprietary Security Guard
Employer form and provide proof of self-insurance or liability insurance
coverage. Districts are also required to submit a Notice of Employment upon hiring,
termination, or resignation of a security guard.
Information regarding security guard licensing can
be found at:
Districts employing several security guards might want to consider establishing their own approved NYS Security Guard Training School through the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services. Upon obtaining approval, a district can fulfill the State mandated training requirements while focusing the training on their own unique facilities and needs; perhaps making better use of their employees’ training time and limited training dollars. Information regarding the security guard training requirements can be found at
Qualities, Attributes, and Training
The ideal security guard candidate would be equal parts: coach, mentor, grandfather, mother, and police officer, and would be able to switch between roles as needed. He or she might within the course of an hour: escort a visitor, console an upset student, direct buses, restrain an out-of-control student, or assist the administrator with implementing a lockdown or other protective action.
Not every licensed security guard – including active and former police officers - is suited to work closely and constantly with what can be a challenging population. Although Civil Service hiring rules might limit the available candidates, great care should be taken when interviewing. Be mindful of the title(s) used to fill these positions: Be certain the duties, qualifications, and special requirements are appropriate. These titles often do not include any minimal physical qualifications; but probably should. Although placing hands on a student is always the last resort, there might be times when a student or other member of the school community might need to be restrained for their own protection or the protection of others. Security guards with limited physical ability and poor mobility might be detriments if they can neither get to, nor assist with handling, a problem of this nature.
School districts employing anyone who acts in the capacity of a security guard, in addition to assuring that they are licensed and registered by New York State as described above, should also provide some training within the district as well as some form of written post orders or standard operating procedures (SOPs). Such training and associated guidance materials provide needed direction to employees while providing a means for the district to hold them accountable. Often, persons performing these very important functions within our schools have been given very little formal instruction on how to perform their jobs, including the legal (NYS Penal Law / Criminal Procedure Law) and district requirements (BOE policies) within which they must function.
Training and SOP topics should minimally include the following categories:
- Security department organization / chain of command;
- Equipment, vehicle, supplies, and uniforms;
- Legal considerations / NYS statutes / BOE policies;
- Conflict management / use of force;
- General security procedures;
- Visitor policy / access control;
- Emergency response procedures; and
- Communication and documentation.
Those more experienced and skilled security guards can become valuable additions to the building-level emergency response team. They typically have excellent knowledge of the building and population and do not have responsibility for a classroom of students. They can greatly assist the principal / incident commander during any emergency if they have been involved in the building’s emergency planning and drilling.