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104th Congress Rept. 104-827
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session Part 1
PRIVATE SECURITY OFFICER QUALITY ASSURANCE ACT OF 1996
September 24, 1996.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Hyde, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 2092]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the bill
(H.R. 2092) to expedite State reviews of criminal records of
applicants for private security officer employment, and for
other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably
thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as
amended do pass.
The Amendment.................................................... 1
Purpose and Summary.............................................. 3
Background and Need for Legislation.............................. 3
Committee Consideration.......................................... 4
Vote of the Committee............................................ 4
Committee Oversight Findings..................................... 4
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Findings............ 5
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................ 5
Committee Cost Estimate.......................................... 5
Congressional Budget Office Estimate............................. 5
Inflationary Impact Statement.................................... 6
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion....................... 6
Agency Views..................................................... 7
The amendment is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Private Security Officer Quality
Assurance Act of 1996''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that--
(1) employment of private security officers in the United
States is growing rapidly;
(2) the private security industry provides numerous
opportunities for entry-level job applicants, including
individuals suffering from unemployment due to economic
conditions or dislocations;
(3) sworn law enforcement officers provide significant
services to the citizens of the United States in its public
areas, and are only supplemented by private security officers
who provide prevention and reporting services in support of,
but not in place of, regular sworn police;
(4) given the growth of large private shopping malls, and the
consequent reduction in the number of public shopping streets,
the American public is more likely to have contact with private
security personnel in the course of a day than with sworn law
(5) regardless of the differences in their duties, skill, and
responsibilities, the public has difficulty in discerning the
difference between sworn law enforcement officers and private
security personnel; and
(6) the American public demands the employment of qualified,
well-trained private security personnel as an adjunct, but not
a replacement for sworn law enforcement officers.
SEC. 3. BACKGROUND CHECKS.
(a) In General.--An association of employers of private security
officers, designated for the purpose of this section by the Attorney
General, may submit fingerprints or other methods of positive
identification approved by the Attorney General, to the Attorney
General on behalf of any applicant for a State license or certificate
of registration as a private security officer or employer of private
security officers. In response to such a submission, the Attorney
General may, to the extent provided by State law conforming to the
requirements of the second paragraph under the heading ``Federal Bureau
of Investigation'' and the subheading ``Salaries and Expenses'' in
title II of Public Law 92-544 (86 Stat. 1115), exchange, for licensing
and employment purposes, identification and criminal history records
with the State governmental agencies to which such applicant has
(b) Regulations.--The Attorney General may prescribe such regulations
as may be necessary to carry out this section, including measures
relating to the security, confidentiality, accuracy, use, and
dissemination of information and audits and recordkeeping and the
imposition of fees necessary for the recovery of costs.
(c) Report.--The Attorney General shall report to the Senate and
House Committees on the Judiciary 2 years after the date of enactment
of this bill on the number of inquiries made by the association of
employers under this section and their disposition.
SEC. 4. SENSE OF CONGRESS.
It is the sense of Congress that States should participate in the
background check system established under section 3.
SEC. 5. DEFINITIONS.
As used in this Act--
(1) the term ``employee'' includes an applicant for
(2) the term ``employer'' means any person that--
(A) employs one or more private security officers; or
(B) provides, as an independent contractor, for
consideration, the services of one or more private
security officers (possibly including oneself);
(3) the term ``private security officer''--
(i) an individual who performs security
services, full or part time, for consideration
as an independent contractor or an employee,
whether armed or unarmed and in uniform or
plain clothes whose primary duty is to perform
security services, or
(ii) an individual who is an employee of an
electronic security system company engaged in
one or more of the following activities in the
State: burglar alarm technician, fire alarm
technician, closed circuit television
technician, access control technician, or
security system monitor; but
(B) does not include--
(i) sworn police officers who have law
enforcement powers in the State,
(ii) attorneys, accountants, and other
professionals who are otherwise licensed in the
(iii) employees whose duties are primarily
internal audit or credit functions,
(iv) persons whose duties may incidentally
include the reporting or apprehension of
shoplifters or trespassers, or
(v) an individual on active duty in the
(4) the term ``registration permit'' means a license, permit,
certificate, registration card, or other formal written
permission from the State for the person to engage in providing
(5) the term ``security services'' means the performance of
one or more of the following:
(A) the observation or reporting of intrusion,
larceny, vandalism, fire or trespass;
(B) the deterrence of theft or misappropriation of
any goods, money, or other item of value;
(C) the observation or reporting of any unlawful
(D) the protection of individuals or property,
including proprietary information, from harm or
(E) the control of access to premises being
(F) the secure movement of prisoners;
(G) the maintenance of order and safety at athletic,
entertainment, or other public activities;
(H) the provision of canine services for protecting
premises or for the detection of any unlawful device or
(I) the transportation of money or other valuables by
armored vehicle; and
(6) the term ``State'' means any of the several States, the
District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the
United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
PURPOSE AND SUMMARY
The purpose of H.R. 2092, the ``Private Security Officer
Quality Assurance Act of 1996,'' is to expedite State criminal
background checks of applicants for the job of private security
officer. The bill authorizes the Attorney General to designate
an association of employers of private security officers to
submit applicant fingerprints to the Attorney General for the
purpose of fingerprint background checks to be conducted by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation.
H.R. 2092 also requires the Attorney General to report to
the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary two years
after the date of enactment of the bill on the number and
disposition of inquiries made by the association of employers.
The bill further expresses the sense of Congress that States
should enact laws that regulate the training and licensing of
private security officers.
BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR THE LEGISLATION
Some private security guard companies, such as the
Pinkerton Detective Agency, have existed in the United States
since the Civil War era. Over the past fifty years, the private
security industry has grown dramatically in size.1
\1\ William C. Cunningham et al., The Hallcrest Report II: Private
Security Trends 1970-2000, 175 (1990).
In 1990, there were approximately 2.4 private security
employees for every law enforcement employee. It is estimated
that the ratio will continue to grow, and that by the year 2000
private security officers will outnumber sworn law enforcement
officers by nearly 3-1. In some cities, the ratio of private
security to law enforcement will be as high as 4 or 5-1.2
\2\ Id at 229.
Private security guards are now commonly sighted at
shopping malls, parking lots and housing units. Private
businesses are not the only organizations who have recognized
the value of private security officers. At the 1996 Summer
Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia, approximately 5,000
private security officers were hired to supplement the Federal,
State and local law enforcement personnel.3
\3\ John Manners, ``Worried But Unthwarted'', Time, June 3, 1996 at
While many private security guards are extremely competent,
at times even heroic, background checks for these guards remain
spotty. Over two-thirds of the States and the District of
Columbia currently require some type of background check on
security guards, but many only require checks on criminal
history records within their own States. Some States do call
for a review of federal criminal records, but this review can
take several months.
Private security guards often carry guns or other weapons,
and wear uniforms which resemble law enforcement uniforms. Many
citizens put their trust in these guards. Unfortunately, there
have been numerous instances of citizens who were harmed,
including sexual assaults, by private security guards whose
pre-employment background checks failed to unearth criminal
\4\ Del Jones and Ellen Neuborne, ``On Guard: Bad Guys Behind Badge
of Honor'', U.S.A. Today, September 12, 1996, at B1.
The ``Private Security Office Quality Assurance Act'' will
allow for expedited fingerprint checks for private security
officer applicants. This legislation is supported by the
National Association of Security Companies and the
International Association of Chiefs of Police.
The Committee's Subcommittee on Crime held one day of
hearings H.R. 2092 on March 7, 1996. Testimony was received
from Members of Congress, and one witness, Mr. Kevin DiGregory,
Deputy Assistant Attorney General, representing the Department
of Justice. Additional testimony was recieved from the National
Association of Security Companies.
On March 21, 1996, the Subcommittee on Crime met in open
session and ordered favorably reported the bill H.R. 2092 by a
voice vote, a quorum being present. On September 18, 1996, the
Full Committee met in open session and ordered reported
favorably the bill H.R. 2092 with amendment, by a voice vote, a
quorum being present.
VOTE OF THE COMMITTEE
There were no recorded votes.
COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS
In compliance with clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports
that the findings and recommendations of the Committee, based
on oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the
descriptive portions of this report.
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT FINDINGS
No findings or recommendations of the Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight were received as referred to in
clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of
NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY AND TAX EXPENDITURES
Clause 2(l)(3)(B) of House Rule XI is inapplicable because
this legislation does not provide new budgetary authority or
increased tax expenditures.
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
In compliance with clause 2(l)(C)(3) of rule XI of the
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets
forth, with respect to the bill, H.R. 2092, the following
estimate and comparison prepared by the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office under section 403 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, September 20, 1996.
Hon. Henry J. Hyde,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
reviewed H.R. 2092, the Private Security Officer Quality
Assurance Act of 1995, as ordered reported by the House
Committee on the Judiciary on September 18, 1996. CBO estimates
that enacting H.R. 2092 would not result in any net impact on
the federal budget. Because enactment of H.R. 2092 would affect
offsetting collections and the spending of such collections,
pay-as-you-go procedures would apply.
H.R. 2092 would expedite state reviews of criminal records
of applicants for private security employment by permitting the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct background
checks on such applicants. The Attorney General would be
responsible for ``imposing fees necessary for the recovery of
costs'' associated with these background checks. Based on
information from the FBI and the Department of Justice, CBO
expects that the Attorney General would set fees at a level
sufficient to recover all costs that the government would incur
while conducting background checks. The fees collected would be
counted as offsetting collections credited to appropriations,
as are existing fees for other background checks. The FBI
spends such fees in the same year in which they are collected.
Thus, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2092 would not result in
any net cost to the federal government. This bill also
expresses the sense of the Congress that states should
participate in the background check system that would be
established under this bill.
H.R. 2092 contains no private-sector or intergovernmental
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
(Public Law 104-4) and would not impose costs on state, local,
or tribal governments.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Susanne S.
James L. Blum
(For June E. O'Neill, Director).
INFLATIONARY IMPACT STATEMENT
Pursuant to clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the Committee estimates that H.R.
2092 will have no significant inflationary impact on prices and
costs in the national economy.
Section 1--Short title
This section states that the short title of the bill is the
``Private Security Officer Quality Assurance Act of 1996.''
This section lists several findings by Congress relating to
the growth of the private security officer industry, the
utility of that industry as a supplement to sworn law
enforcement personnel, and the necessity for hiring only
qualified, well-trained persons for the job of private security
Sec. 3--Background checks
This section will expedite criminal records checks for
applicants for the job of private security officer. This
section requires the Attorney General to designate an
association of employers of private security officers to submit
fingerprints to the Attorney General on behalf of an applicant
for the job of private security officer. The Attorney General
will direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct a
background fingerprint investigation by matching the
applicant's fingerprints with fingerprints on file with the
FBI. This system is similar to the one now in use by the
banking and parimutuel industries.
The Attorney General is given authority to prescribe
whatever regulations may be necessary to implement these
fingerprint checks, including regulations relating to the
imposition of fees necessary for the recovery of costs. It is
the Committee's intent that federal funds not be expended for
individual background fingerprint checks conducted under this
The Attorney General is also directed to report to the
House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary two years after
the date of enactment of this act on the number and disposition
of inquires made by the association of employers under this
section. The Committee intends that this report will also
describe the average length of time necessary for each
background check processed under regulations prescribed
pursuant to this act.
Sec. 4--Sense of Congress
This section states that it is the Sense of Congress that
the several States participate in the background check system
established under this act.
This section defines several terms listed in the
legislation, including ``employer,'' ``employee,'' and
Office of Legislative Affairs,
Washington, DC, March 6, 1996.
Hon. Bill McCollum,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime, Committee on the Judiciary, House of
Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: I am pleased to respond to your request
for the Department of Justice's views on a number of bills the
Subcommittee will soon consider. Our views are provided below.
h.r. 2092--the private security officer quality assurance act
We applaud the goal of this bill, enhancing the oversight
and regulation of private security officers. However, we have
several concerns about the background check provisions and the
intended scope of the term ``private security officer.''
Section 3 permits an association of employers of private
security guards to conduct criminal history record checks
directly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We believe
this proposal is unnecessary. FBI criminal history record
checks are currently conducted for prospective security guards,
private patrolmen, and watchmen pursuant to Pub. L. 92-544 in
the 34 states which have enacted appropriate enabling
Any procedure that would bypass the initial fingerprint
check through state criminal record systems is an inefficient
use of the FBI and other law enforcement resources. The state
authorities handling the applicant fingerprint card should
forward to the FBI only those cards for which no disqualifying
record or substantive information is identified at the state or
local level. The identification of such information obviates
the need for a national check, thus resulting in the savings of
time and expense attributable to redundant FBI processing.
It should be noted that an individual's criminal history
record at the state level often contains arrests and
dispositions that are never reported to the FBI. Further, some
state laws prohibit the dissemination of certain
nondisqualifying criminal history data--such as non-conviction
data or arrest entries for which no disposition has been
reported--to state and local agencies making licensing and
Section 4 of the bill expresses a sense of the Congress
that the states should enact statutes requiring employer
licenses for security services, registration permits with
background requirements, and detailed training prerequisites.
Also advocated are provisions for recognition of out-of-state
licenses, certain employee rights, and the state creation of
advisory boards. We have several observations and suggestions
related to this section and Section 5 (definitions).
Throughout the proposal ``private security officers'' are
dealt with as a relatively identifiable and fungible category
of employees. However, variations in state laws, assigned
duties, and employment status create a wide range of such
employees, many of whom resemble office receptionists or mid-
level office managers while others are virtual police officers
with limited jurisdiction.
``Private security officer'' has a much narrower meaning in
the law enforcement community than is established by the
proposed legislative definition. That proposed definition of a
``private security officer'' would seemingly include many
office receptionists, tavern ``bouncers,'' parking lot
attendants, transit and airline gate personnel, ticket-takers
at virtually any facility, non-police park rangers, pool life
guards, theater ushers, and firm alarm technicians. The
definition unintentionally may even reach certain members of
the news media--who may perform the observation or reporting of
unlawful activity, full or part time, for consideration as an
independent contractor, or as an employee with a primary duty
to perform those tasks. Even some Federal Government employees
are seemingly within the scope of that definition, if they
perform any of the security and safety functions identified and
are not sworn police officers or active duty military
personnel. We do not believe that the Federal Government should
urge the states to regulate the training, qualifications, and
other employment aspects of various categories of federal
While the findings initially suggest that the primary
problem which the legislation seeks to address involves private
shopping mall and other facility security officers and the
inability of the public to distinguish such private officers
from sworn public police officers, this proposal exceeds that
scenario. Even in that narrow area, the states seem qualified
to identify any problem and address it, as many jurisdictions
already have by mandating large shoulder patches with
distinctive markings or other uniform labeling which clarifies
an employee's private sector status.
We have concerns about the perceived need for homogeneous
training. Job responsibilities, levels of oversight, exposure
to the public, and state-granted powers vary to such a degree
that, in our view, no specific minimal training requirements
could meet the needs of some security officer assignments
without substantially exceeding the level required for others.
The level of specificity of proposed requirements may prove
to be both insufficiently flexible and nevertheless
inaccurately precise. For example, advocating that a 70%
marksmanship score be adopted as a requirement by all states
seems rather precise, yet, since no standard for the form of
test which should yield that score is provided, the number is
insignificant if testing and scoring procedures vary widely.
Similarly, prohibiting the ``unreasonable limitation'' of the
right of an involuntarily terminated employee to seek
subsequent security officer employment may prove to be so vague
that it does not afford additional protection if state labor
laws are inadequate, yet it inadvertently could encourage the
hiring of unqualified personnel already terminated for cause
from a similar position.
Again, we are pleased to assist the Subcommittee's
consideration of these bills. Please do not hesitate to contact
me if you need any additional assistance.
Assistant Attorney General.