Withheld Background Check Information for South Florida Private Security Companies

In the past, we’ve mentioned that positions involving work with children, the elderly, or the disabled should have thorough FBI background checks; not all states require this, however, and as a result, a convicted felon may end up working in a daycare center or nursing home. But what if the job position is for guarding a facility or keeping others safe? A recent news story in the Sun Sentinel revealed that security guards are committing crimes on the job in South Florida.

How does this specifically relate to criminal background checks? Private security companies in the state conduct state and FBI candidates on all applicants; before the results come back, the applicant is allowed to work as an unarmed security guard. While the scenario of a company hiring an applicant before the background check comes back is all too familiar, there’s a twist for Florida’s private security companies: the state won’t share records with employers unless past criminal convictions come up. By the time the state does this, the former criminal has been on the job for a few weeks already and may have already committed a crime, such as theft, burglary, or selling drugs. The security guard with a criminal record then has his license revoked.

Because of 448 licenses revoked in two years in three South Florida counties, private security companies want the state to change its ways and provide them with the full results of criminal background checks. To the Sun Sentinel, the secretary of the Florida Association of Security Companies is quoted as saying:

“[Florida] is like a drain pipe. People get in trouble somewhere else and come here.”

According to the Sentinel, the federal government enacted a law in 2006 allowing private security agencies FBI background checks; because Florida regulates its private security companies, it has not authorized the law. Do you think Florida should? If the state is to continue monitoring these security companies, finding a better approach to keep felons out of security roles must be addressed.