By Dustin Slaughter
A new report co-produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting and CNN reveals less-than-stringent background checks and firearms training nationwide for armed private security employees, and Pennsylvania is no exception.
The joint investigation’s results, released last month, indicate that Pennsylvania requires private security guards to undergo no more than 40 hours of training: 26 hours of basic training and just 14 hours of firearm training. The state ranks 12th nationwide in overall training hours.
In contrast, neighboring Delaware mandates 40 hours of gun training alone, placing it in the top tier nationwide.
Pennsylvania was one of just four other states in which regulators, at times, “took months or years to discipline armed guards charged with or convicted of violent crimes, including armed robbery and arms dealing,” according to CIR. On average, it takes regulators nearly two and a half years “to revoke an armed guard license after a conviction, from illegally selling firearms to sexual abuse of children.”
State regulations do, however, require private security companies to determine whether an applicant is prohibited from carrying a firearm; to conduct a criminal record check; and to perform a mental health evaluation – although companies are not required to look into an applicant’s mental health history.
Companies, including one of Philadelphia’s largest private security employers, are also not required to check whether ex-police officers were fired for misconduct.
The Declaration contacted AlliedBarton to determine how many security personnel have been fired for criminal infractions over the last five years, whether the company investigates ex-law enforcement applicants’ disciplinary histories, as well as if its hiring and training policies go beyond what the state requires in general.
Regional spokesperson Samantha Thomas responded via email this evening:
AlliedBarton Security Services utilizes screening, hiring and training practices that exceed most existing standards and regulations. AlliedBarton’s standards require all security officers to pass an extensive, pre-hire background check; and complete comprehensive site- and industry-specific training.
AlliedBarton continues to contract with places such as University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. Temple expanded security patrols last fall to encompass approximately 100 blocks, a significant portion of which went beyond campus proper, according to the university’s Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications.
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced legislation last July that would give private security companies greater access to FBI databases during the screening process. The legislation would not, however, empower or otherwise mandate employers to investigate former police officers’ disciplinary histories.