Armed Security Officer Shoots Warning Shots at Palm Beach Mall in Florida. Florida security officers are prohibited from firing a Warning Shot for any reason; including an attempt to stop a person suspected in the commission of a crime. The Florida Rule which prohibits such an act is found in 5N-1 (2) The disciplinary guidelines for violations committed by individuals are as follows: (j) Firing a warning shot while on duty Section 493.6118(1)(f), F.S.) Section 493.6118(1)(f), F.S.) also states:
(f) Proof that the applicant or licensee is guilty of fraud or deceit, or of negligence, incompetency, or misconduct, in the practice of the activities regulated under this chapter.
The effects of a Warning Shot, should someone be injured, can also be punishable under subsection (j) which states:
(j) Commission of an act of violence or the use of force on any person except in the lawful protection of one’s self, or another from physical harm.
Firing a shot at a suspect, as a security officer, fleeing on foot or in a vehicle is unacceptable not only for a Security Officer but also Law Enforcement.
Armed Security Officer Training
In the State of Florida, Armed Security Officers must complete 28 hours of armed security training and a range qualification. Annually Officers must complete 4 hours of recertification including the range qualification to show proficiency as a Statewide Firearm Licensee. Is this enough training to carry a firearm while working in an armed capacity? The Statewide firearm training is a basic marksmanship course, or at least should be, if provided properly by the State of Florida’s K manual.
In my opinion the course should be at least 40 hours with a two-day portion of tactics and scenario based training. The bar should be raised and firearms instructors should be held to a higher standard. Right now in the State of Florida the industry is experiencing a plague of instructors who are in the business for a fast buck. These security schools and instructors are running security training mills and not focusing on the fundamentals of training a security professional. Security companies are hiring security officers to fill a post without any investigation of their training. These employers are vicariously liable, for negligent acts or omissions by their employees in the course of employment.
Not all security training schools are the same. Does the school or instructor you are sending your officers to provide training equipment, firearms and proper instruction? Have you visited the classroom and met the actual instructors that are training the officers that you may hire for your company?
Armed Security Officer Qualification
The State requires a firearms qualification of 48 rounds shooting and from various distances. Its also requires shooting under time constraints, drawing from the holster, shooting from the hip, multiple target engagement, shooting behind cover and a speed reload drill. How many Security G License holders actually shoot the proper qualification?
The toughest challenge our training academy has faced over the past couple years is the Statewide Firearm Annual Recertification. We have experienced throughout the entire State of Florida, Armed Security Officers who say they have never shot the proper qualification with the above requirements according to F.S 493. Many of these officers lack BASIC marksmanship fundamentals and firearms safety. Our instructors must now re-train this officer in a 4 hour period to pass the qualification. If the officer fails, they then can cheat the system and go find another instructor who cuts corners and ensures the officer qualifies. This is no different then selling proficiency certificates and is still considered fraud under Florida Statutes 493.
Armed Security Training Enforcement
Right now, the Division of Licensing Investigators are under manned with only 2-3 investigators covering a couple of counties. How do they fight these crimes committed by bad security schools and instructors?
The customer pays a fee to train with a licensed security school or instructor, and then later finds out the course they completed was invalid. They are then responsible to pay another security school to retake the training. Is this fair to the customer when they are paying a security school or instructor who the State allowed to provide these services?
The Statewide Firearm course should be provided by a licensed firearm school with insurance and better accountability of the training services they are providing. Currently under Florida Law, Class K Instructors can provide the Statewide Firearm Class at McDonalds from the back of an Instructors trunk, fill out the paperwork and the student can cheat the system. They are now working armed, protecting people and property. Stats from the Divisions website: Over 4,000 Statewide Licensees have been sent fraudulent proficiency certificates to the Division of Licensing. 33 Class “K” Firearms Instructors are currently or have been under investigation by the Division of Licensing and 13 have been arrested and fined in an excess of $73,000. The Division has 2,183 investigations against fraudulent activity.
Pay Rates for Armed Security Officer’s
Armed Security should command a higher pay rate for the amount of risk and liability a company must consume. But this is not the case here in Florida. There are craigslist postings offering $10-$11 an hour for Armed Security Officers. How much training does a $10 an hour armed security officer have? With so many improper trained armed security officers, the industry is watered down allowing companies to low ball contracts and provide armed officers with minimal training. The companies that invest in training their officers properly are losing contracts left and right because of the fraud in the industry. To fix the security industry it starts with training and setting the standards even higher.
Why do we need better training standards in the Florida security industry?
With the rise of crime and terrorism and the decrease of Law Enforcement due to budgets cuts, security officers now have a greater role in the protection of life and property in our communities. With this increase in responsibility we must also increase the training standards of the security professional here in Florida.