Should Armed Security Guards Require Psychological Evaluations for Employment?
Last month security guard Brian Love of Las Vegas, Nevada shot and killed Max Garcia a homeless man. Love shot Garcia multiple times on July 2, 2019 around 12:45 pm. As of now Nevada’s only requirements to receive an armed security guard license, is the applicant must be 21 years old, complete a board certified course, complete a background check, and requalify with their weapon every 6 months. However, no psychological evaluation is required.
As of today only 4 states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) require armed security guards to receive a psychological evaluation prior to employment. While the standards for entry in to security are much lower than those in law enforcement, psychological evaluations serve the same purpose regardless of profession. According to Dr. Ellen Kirschman a police psychologist with more than 30 years on the job. Psychological evaluations are used to make sure the applicant “is free from any emotional or mental conditions that might adversely affect the performance of safety based duties and responsibilities”. While in most cases security guards don’t have the same statutory arrest authority as police officers, making sure that a person carrying a gun and wearing a badge is mentally fit to do so, seems like a reasonable request from industry professionals and the public at large.
Now if what I have presented seems reasonable, the question is… why hasn’t it been done yet? The short answer is cost. Sending applicants through a psychological screening can be a costly expense. On top of that its not even guaranteeing that all your applicants are going to make it through the process. Unfortunately in this industry profit comes before anything else including the safety of the employees and public. Ensuring that guards are mentally and emotionally fit to carrying a deadly weapon is too much of a cost for employers, who see it simply as an expense that cuts into profits. Fly by night companies are not the only offenders. Many larger and more well-known security companies routinely skimp on any additional training beyond what the government requires and unfortunately see profits as more important than proper evaluation, training, and equipping of guards that protect their clients assets and personnel.
While some states have tried to pass legislation to add mental health evaluations as a standard requirement for the security industry, many have failed due to security companies lobbying against another line on their expense report. As someone who has been in the industry as long as I have, I’m tired of reading story after story about guards shooting and killing people, only to find out that they had some type of mental or emotional condition that could have been weeded out during a proper mental health screening. As many of us are trying to move the security industry into an industry of professionals, we see proper screening and training as the first step to building the security industry out of the academy reject, rent-a-cop image that the industry has long since gained.