Dodge City Considers Licensing Security Guards, Companies

Dodge City needs to regulate private security guards to ensure the safety of businesses that use them, Police Chief John Ball said Tuesday.

“We’ve had instances where we have arrested a security guard who worked at a local bar, and he was dealing drugs at that local bar,” he told the Dodge City Commission. “We arrested him, and that night he was back to dealing drugs at that local bar and working as a security guard.”

Ball did not identify the bar where the problem occurred.

To prevent such problems, the Dodge City Police Department is proposing an ordinance requiring the city to license and regulate private security guards. The commission discussed the ordinance Tuesday but did not decide whether to adopt it.

The commission first discussed a licensing program last year at the request of Clark Security Service owner Jeff Clark, who had asked the commissioners to consider adopting such a measure. An ordinance spelling out a licensing program was proposed but never adopted.

The police department would administer the licensing program but would not provide firearms training for security guards carrying weapons.

Under the proposed licensing program, private security companies and their employees would have to pass a background check conducted by the police department. Once the background check is completed, each licensee and employee would receive an identification card to certify that they are licensed by the city.

The city currently allows security guards to carry a weapon with or without proper training on how to use the weapon and the use of force, but the ordinance would require guards to provide proof of firearms training.

“We want to make sure that these guards that are carrying weapons know how to operate that weapon and handle that weapon in a safe manner,” Ball said. “They know how to shoot the weapon, and they know when and when not to shoot.”

He said the police department will not train security guards on the proper use of firearms, but other organizations like the National Rifle Association will provide that kind of instruction.

The ordinance would also prohibit security guards from giving the false impression that they are police officers.

Commissioner Mark Pingsterhaus wondered who would determine who qualifies as a security guard. He noted that the greeters at Wal-Mart are required to take steps to prevent shoplifting.

Ball said the proposed ordinance includes a definition of who would qualify as a security guard, but the commission could require a more detailed definition if it wanted.

“I’ve talked with the city manager, and he and I both agree there’s some more tweaking to be done to this, obviously,” he said.

Ball said he just wanted to know whether the commission was interested in proceeding with the ordinance.

Pingsterhaus later said he liked the proposed ordinance but thought it needed some fine-tuning.

“You have my support,” he said.

Commissioner Mike Nelson said he thought the city should proceed with the ordinance.

“We have some things we need to define here, but I don’t see what the downside of this is,” Nelson said.

[Article provided courtesy Dodge City Daily Globe.]