Denver may make it easier for people convicted of crimes to get security guard licenses

3 min. read
A contract security guard on the 16th Street Mall. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) 16th street mall; sixteenth street; central business district; downtown; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite; cbd;

A contract security guard on the 16th Street Mall. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The city of Denver is considering a package of changes that could make it easier for restaurants and event planners to hire security staff.

Among other changes, the Denver City Council will consider significantly changing rules that keep people convicted of crimes from becoming guards. It also will exempt certain jobs -- such as taking tickets -- from getting the license.

"Denver’s been licensing security guards since at least 1950. The only significant change to the current ordinance was in 1989," said Ashley Kilroy, director of excise and licensing.

This is an issue that affects a ton of people: The city issued or renewed more than 7,500 security guard licenses last year and the use of private guards has increased nationwide since 9/11.

The changes:

Currently, people can't become a licensed guard in Denver for 10 years after any criminal violation. That would be reduced to 5 years and only apply for felonies and more-serious misdemeanors.

However, people could be denied a license if their history shows they do not "demonstrate honesty, fairness, and respect for the rights of others or for the law."

The proposal also would exempt some groups from getting the license. Presently, you have to get licensed to operate an x-ray machine, take tickets, act as an usher or check IDs. Denver police have been vigilant about enforcing the rules, said Nick Hoover, manager of government affairs for the Colorado Restaurant Association.

People who have the ability to physically detain and eject people, or who can carry a gun, will still have to get the license. Businesses also would have to have one security guard for every 10 screeners.

Those who still have to get a license would now have to get a national FBI background check rather than just a state background check. The FBI checks are from $50 to $70, compared to about $7 for the state check.

The reactions:

A tight labor market has made it difficult for restaurants in particular to hire steady staff. The real trouble is in the back of the house, for cooks, bussers and others. This change could at least make it easier at the front door, said Carolyn Livingston, communications director for the restaurant association.

But the change also could introduce some complications. Tony Dunn, general manager of the downtown Sheraton, said that he was concerned that the more intensive background checks could take too long to arrive. However, city staff say the FBI results generally arrive within a few hours through private services.

The proposal passed through a committee meeting this week and next heads to the Denver City Council.

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