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Hiring Security Guards

Things You Should Know Before Hiring Security Guards

Many companies (or in some case, individuals) find it necessary to hire a security guard agency (SGA) to protect their business, property, employees or even family. Regardless, consumers should give such a decision careful thought and thoroughly consider the circumstances before hiring a security guard agency. Prior to contacting a SGA, the consumer should specifically identify what they want protected, the level of protection, how long they want it and how much money they can afford to spend. Additionally, consumers may want to first check on the SGA using a consumer assistance group (such as the Better Business Bureau), researching reports on the internet, or examining other sources of business information. Please note: A SGA is not necessarily "bad" because it has complaints registered with such sources - sometimes complaints are not justified. A consumer may also want to check with the AZ DPS Licensing Unit to determine if the SGA is properly licensed. In Arizona, any advertisement for a SGA must also contain their license number.

Once a SGA is selected, talk to their representative and discuss your needs with them, what your expectations are and how much you can afford (total). Ask to see their SGA license or obtain their license number. The SGA should readily provide options and inform you if your goals and finances are realistic. Before hiring a SGA, make sure both you and the SGA are clear about what is expected by each of you. Thoroughly read and understand all terms of any contract or agreement and make sure it contains all terms you deem important (price, service dates, etc).

The following are some highlights of the AZ security guard licensing statutes:

1.  It is against the law for a agency or individual to provide contract security services if they are not licensed by the AZ DPS Licensing Unit. Always ask to see the SGA license and record the number and expiration. If the agency (or individual) does not have a valid license in possession, they cannot legally perform security work in Arizona. Violation of any statute related to security guards or SGA's is a class 1 misdemeanor (ARS 32-2608 and 32-2637).

2.  Security guards must be employed by a licensed SGA and they cannot provide "individual" services on their own. If an agency or person wants to hire a security guard, they must obtain services through a licensed SGA (very few exceptions). Security guards who are actual employees of a non-security business or corporation (proprietary) are currently exempt from Arizona's licensing requirements, however, they are subject to the uniform approval process and if armed, firearm training requirements.

3.  Security guards must be in possession of a valid security guard license while working (ARS 32-2636.A.24). Additionally, they must be wearing a uniform that was approved by the Licensing Unit. Report anyone claiming to be a security guard who cannot (or will not) produce such licenses or ID to the AZ DPS Licensing Unit at (602) 223-2361.

4.  Neither SGA's nor their clients may specify the uniform for their security guards unless the Licensing Unit has reviewed and approved the uniform. Uniform items that resemble any component of known Arizona law enforcement agency uniforms will not be approved - this includes certain color combinations of the shirts/trousers, badges, patches, hats and coats (this does not include gunbelts/holsters). A SGA must contact the Licensing Unit for approval before security guards can actually wear the uniform - there is no "grace period." Oftentimes, the SGA will meet with Licensing Unit staff and bring examples of the desired uniform or submit detailed pictures. Once a uniform is approved, it may not be modified without approval of the Licensing Unit.

5.  Different businesses and venues have varying needs and requirements: The Licensing Unit will work with SGA's and their clients to help find solutions. Unfortunately, some SGA's choose to bypass consultation with the Licensing Unit and make decisions that result in complaints or violations of the law. Examples include SGA's employing unlicensed guards (includes guards pending a license) or attempting to "camouflage" unlicensed guards by placing them in unauthorized uniforms (or shirts) that say "EVENT STAFF", "SECURITY", "MANAGEMENT" or simply contain an agency logo. Another common violation is when SGA's claim that a particular employee is an usher or parking attendant when they are actually performing security functions (note - an actual parking attendant is only responsible for parking vehicles and has no security related duties or responsibilities). These types of violations usually occur when the SGA cannot hire enough licensed security guards to fulfill the requirements of the contract with the client, so they employ unlicensed persons to fill in. Responsible parties of SGA's employing unlicensed security guards or unlicensed persons found working in a security guard function are subject to arrest, revocation or suspension of their license or denial of a SGA or security guard license. If the Licensing Unit finds unlicensed security guards working at a job site they will not be permitted to continue working.

6.  Security guards may not be in possession of a firearm while on duty at a job site unless they possess a valid armed security guard license. Security guards may possess other defensive weapons such as OC spray, batons, stun guns, Tasers, etc, at the discretion of the employing SGA and the client. 

7.  Security guards are not peace officers, nor do they have any law enforcement authority. Any duties performed by a security guard or armed security guard shall be performed in the capacity of a private citizen.

8.  Security vehicles used during the performance of security guard work are subject to certain limitations related to markings and lights. Such vehicles may not resemble a law enforcement agency's vehicle, nor may they display a red or red and blue light to the front of the vehicle. Auxiliary warning lights on a security vehicle should generally be amber or white (or both) so there is no confusion as to the vehicles status. Security vehicles may not be used to attempt to stop other vehicles or persons on a public road or on public property. Security vehicles can be used to effect stops on cars or persons during the course of duties while on private property that they are responsible for, however, any stop by the car or person is voluntary in nature and they will generally suffer no criminal liability if they refuse to stop.

9.  The State of Arizona requires each security guard to receive at least eight hours of training prior to receiving their initial license and another eight hours prior to renewal. Armed security guards are required to receive the initial eight hours (to obtain the unarmed license) and an additional sixteen hours of firearms training prior to receiving their armed security guard license. Renewal of an armed security guard license requires another eight hours of refresher firearms training (annually). All training is the responsibility of the security guard and the employing SGA. Additionally, the curriculum of these training requirements must be approved by the Licensing Unit. 

10.  Clients may check contract security guards to ensure they are properly licensed. Report unlicensed guards (or agencies) to the DPS Licensing Unit at (602) 223-2361.

11.  A SGA may perform executive protection or body guard work, however, they may not carry concealed weapons unless they have a valid concealed weapon permit.



If you have a complaint against an agency we regulate, you should first try to resolve it directly by contacting a supervisor of the agency. If for some reason you are unable to resolve the problem, you may wish to contact senior management or the agencies consumer affairs representative for further assistance. Dealing directly with the agency is usually the fastest, simplest and most effective approach. Most agencies value their customers and will usually be responsive to their concerns. If you are unable to resolve your complaint directly with the SGA, you may file a complaint with the Licensing Unit, which is responsible for ensuring that the agencies we regulate comply with applicable state laws.

If our investigation of your complaint finds a violation of law or rule, we will inform you of the violation and the corrective action to be taken. However, we do not have authority to resolve contractual disputes or undocumented factual disputes between a customer and an agency. We also do not have the authority to resolve disagreements pertaining to the agencies policies and procedures that are a matter of management discretion and not addressed by the specific laws we enforce. In such cases, if the agency does not make a voluntary adjustment, we will usually advise you to consider obtaining legal counsel regarding your rights to resolve the situation. While the Licensing Unit endeavors to intercede on behalf of complainants, the transactions at issue are not always within our authority as regulators. This Department's regulatory authority is limited to the laws passed in the legislature that relate to security guards and private investigators.

Download the Complaint Form here

AZ DPS Licensing Unit

PO Box 6328  MD 3140

Phoenix, AZ 85005


Phone: (602) 223-2361

Fax: (602) 223-2938


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