Denver’s security guards will be more official than ever with new regulations coming Nov. 1

Requirements include undergoing an FBI background check, communicating with the city and establishing a standard training protocol.
4 min. read
Warner Smith poses in the uniform of the new Downtown Denver Partnership’s “private security team.” (Adrian D. Garcia/Denverite)

Denver’s growing, and city officials know it's not just police officers who keep the rising number of Denverites safe. Starting Nov. 1, the Department of Excise and Licenses is implementing new, tougher regulations for how security guards are licensed.

This license is the most common type given out by the department, according to Eric Escudero, director of communications at the Department of Excise and Licenses, with approximately 7,000 licenses currently active.

“Our top priority in Denver is public safety. We identified the opportunity to improve public safety by requiring training for security guards for the first time and strengthening the background check. We’re always looking at our licenses to determine which need an update and which can be repealed,” Escudero said.

To create the new ordinance, Denver had to address a language issue that on its face seems like pure semantics, but is significant in how these new regulations will roll out.

Before the Denver City Council passed this ordinance in November 2017, there was no such thing as a security guard license. Denver instead issued a merchant guard license that is much broader in scope. The security guard license is clearer about who the intended recipient is and who can legitimately use force to secure a premises.

The new license comes with more stringent oversight, but city officials believe it will hopefully shrink the overall number of Denverites who will need it for employment. Previously, everyone performing security-type functions were required to have a merchant guard license, and that included people that were taking tickets, and ushering crowds. None of those positions will be required to have the license under the new ordinance’s stipulations.

A chart presented to city council in 2017 explaining potential changes to the security guard license ordinance. (Courtesy of Denver)

Those attempting to get the new security guard license will have to go through an FBI background check, which is significantly more thorough than the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) background check they previously underwent. One significant difference between the two agencies is that the FBI will flag incidents that took place in other states but the CBI doesn’t always catch those violations.

Denver also wants to standardize the training of security guards so city officials like law enforcement and other security practitioners like security guards are on the same page. There will be 16 hours of training required to receive the license, and that will have to be annually renewed via another eight-hour training session along with an additional name check with the CBI. The ordinance also creates clearer guidelines for uniforms, vehicles and other accessories a security guard might use.

To further increase the communication between the city and its security guards, pertinent information must be communicated within 72 hours.

“There are five 72-hour rules. Security guards are now required within 72 hours to notify Denver if they quit their security guard job, if they are convicted of a crime, and notify Denver of any use of force that results in a bodily injury. Security guard employers are required within 72 hours to notify Denver if they terminate an employee, or change their required insurance,” Escudero said.

The ordinance also ends the ability for in-house security companies to operate without a license.

There has been about a year lag between when the ordinance was passed and its implementation. According to Escudero, it's because they wanted to get the process right. The department hosted a series of engagement initiatives with stakeholders to make sure the language in the ordinance wasn’t a hindrance for current guards or employers.

The application fee for the license has been brought down from $50 to $25 and has been waived for military veterans. The application process can be submitted online.

“We anticipate these changes will improve public safety, improve convenience with license applications allowed online and make the licenses more business-friendly with people such as ticket takers without a security role not having to get a security guard license anymore,” Escudero said.

If you are currently a security guard in Denver, you don’t need to apply until your current license expires.

Denverite reached out to AEG, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom and Beta Nightclub but they either choose not to respond or said they did not have much to add to the conversation.

Correction: The article previously misclassified wand wavers. They will need the license because that is a security function. The article has been updated to reflect that change.

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