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The Role Of Private Security In Florida’s Post 9/11 World

Presentation To The
Florida Sheriffs Association
Summer Conference
July 28, 2008

By

Major Alan Lamarche, President of
The Florida Association of Security Companies (FASCO)
www.FASCOWEB.COM
and
President & Owner of Plantation Security, Inc.
www.plantationsecurity.com


You may be asking yourself “Why has a Private Security guy been asked to talk to me today?” The answer is because Florida's Private Security Industry, in recent years, has become an integral part of our state’s Homeland Security, Public Safety and Hurricane Recovery Programs.

It is an honor for me to have been a non-paid part-time sworn Leon County Deputy Sheriff for 28 years. I first began my Law Enforcement Career over 40 years ago with the old Game and Fish Commission. During those years, I have befriended and worked closely with many Florida Sheriffs. I met current FSA President, Sheriff Joey Dobson and retired St. Johns County Sheriff Neil Perry when we served together on the State of Florida Private Security Advisory Council.

For three decades, I’ve worked closely with--and consider among my friends-- former Sheriffs Raymond Hamlin, Ken Katsaris, Eddie Boone, Ken Fortune, Jamie Adams, and Taylor Douglas, as well as the late Sheriffs W.A. Woodham and Buddy Phillips. Since my college days, I have known and worked closely with Sheriffs Larry Campbell and the current "Dean of Sheriff's," David Harvey. Executive Director Gary Perkins and I have been friends for years.

I’m truly honored to be here, and I thank Sheriff Dobson and Director Perkins for inviting me to talk about Florida's Licensed Private Security Industry.

I have owned a licensed Private Security Agency since 1980. For 28 years, we have teamed with Sheriffs to fight and deter crime in their home counties at no cost to them or the taxpayers. We’ve accomplished this because of the mutual respect and trust between ourselves, their Deputies and my Licensed Security Officers.

The Sheriffs respect me because they know I employ only the finest quality, highly trained Security Officers and that we maintain Operating Policies and personnel that are the envy of many Police Departments.

My company, Plantation Security Inc., is based in Leon County but works throughout Florida and South Georgia. We specialize in rural property, large acreage patrol services, and I employ primarily retired Law Enforcement Officers and off-duty Law Enforcement Officers. I and my Licensed Security Officers support our Sheriffs politically, and we work side by side with uniformed Deputies and Detectives by serving as their eyes and ears and "backups" when called upon.

Similar relationships exist with Licensed Private Security Agencies in other Florida counties. Sheriff David Gee in Hillsborough County has a close working relationship with Critical Intervention Services (CIS), Aegis Protective Services, and other high end, professional, Licensed Security Companies in his county. There are many, many other highly professional Licensed Security Agencies throughout Florida.

In these "tight budget times," progressive Sheriffs know that they must utilize every available resource at their disposal to serve their constituents. This year you have fewer funded resources than you had last year. Projections are that it will get worse.

I am here today as President of the Florida Association of Security Companies (FASCO) representing more than 1000 licensed Florida Security Agencies to offer Florida's Sheriffs a potential "life line."

Were you aware that there are two types of Private Security in Florida?

First, there are the Licensed Security Agencies with Licensed Security Officers. The Licensed Security Industry is fully regulated by the State of Florida.

Secondly, there is Proprietary Security, who are hired in- house, by shopping malls, hotels, lounges, and other businesses. This Proprietary category is not regulated by the state and has no required training.

I am here to talk about Florida's Licensed Security Industry.

Did you know that there are more than twice as many Licensed Security Officers in Florida as there are Certified Law Enforcement Officers including local, state & Federal?

Did you know that Florida's Licensed Security Industry and its Licensed Security Officers are the most highly regulated of all of the States?

The Florida Department of Agriculture's Division of Licensing is charged with regulating and licensing the Security Industry and its Security Officers under Chapter 493 FS. Florida's Licensed Security Officers must meet the most stringent of background checks. An Armed (G-licensed) Security Officer must have a minimum of 68 hrs. of training including Homeland Security, pass two written exams and shoot the same qualifying score as a Recruit Law Enforcement Officer on the 48 round CJSTC Course. In addition, the G-Licensed Security Officer must requalify on the firing range every year for license renewal. CJSTC only recently required Law Enforcement Officers to requalify every two years.

Since 9/11/01, the Gulf Wars, and the DROP Program, Florida's Licensed Security Industry has experienced an influx of retired Law Enforcement Officers, Corrections, Military and College Graduates with Criminal Justice and Security Degrees as well as a host of other highly qualified and highly motivated Licensed Security professionals.

Today in Florida, there are specially trained Licensed Security Officers protecting our State's Nuclear Power Plants, power grids, sub stations, agricultural areas, chemical plants, and other Critical Infrastructure who are armed with AR 15's, remote controlled semi- automatic weapons, remote controlled unmanned surveillance aircraft, highly trained K-9 Units, and other specialized equipment and resources.

Many of the most progressive Licensed Security Patrol Agencies are equipping their Patrol Vehicles with GPS's, dispatch monitoring systems, dashboard cameras, and mobile computers similar to Law Enforcement. These advances are taking place throughout Florida's Security Industry resulting in an “enhanced professional image”.

For the last 5 years, the Florida Legislature has recognized and rewarded the "professionalization" of our Industry with progressive Legislation.

The Legislature passed a Sea Port Security Bill that further enhanced the status, authority and training requirements for Licensed Sea Port Security Officers who serve on the front line of the War on Terror. In addition, Law makers removed the old .38 revolver limitation and permitted Licensed Security Officers to train with and carry 9mm on duty.

The 2006 Legislature recognized that there were more Security Officers assaulted and killed on duty than Law Enforcement Officers. During that Session, FSA & FASCO teamed together and passed a Bill that elevated penalties for assaults on Sheriff’s civilian breathalyzer technicians & Licensed Security Officers to felony status.

Team work during the following Session resulted in a Law that helped responding Deputies quickly identify and locate Security Officers, who are often the first responders to crime scenes and emergencies. The new Amber & Green Security emergency light combination stands out among a sea of amber lights on utility and service vehicles during power outages and night time emergencies.

This past Legislative Session, FASCO had a “Detain and Hold” Bill (approved by FSA) that would have clarified the authority of the most highly trained, Armed and Licensed Security Officers on duty to "detain and hold violators" and immediately call Law Enforcement. Most are retired LEO's and Military who are the "Elite" of our Industry, and they protect our State’s most critical Infrastructure.

FASCO had simply hoped to clarify some of the outdated Statutes that do not meet security needs in a post 9/11 World. After unanimously passing all Senate Committees, this “Crime Fighting” Bill died in the House because the Police Unions objected-- behind the scenes. We were surprised because it was our Industry that had supported the licensing exemption in Chapter 493 for law enforcement to work private security off-duty with the permission of their supervisor.

Florida's Security industry wants to thank the Florida Sheriffs for their support of our Industry. We commend the Sheriffs for recognizing that "public safety and crime prevention" are more important than "the bottom line."

As President of FASCO, I would like to offer each of you the full support and services of our Industry and urge you to reach out and learn more about this "free resource." Although I used the term "free,” there really is a price, but it won't break your budget. The only “payback” most Licensed Security Professionals want is a little respect from their "Brothers in Arms."

To tap into this valuable resource, invite your local Licensed Security Managers to participate in Intelligence Briefings and In-house Training Sessions and allow their Licensed Firearms Instructors to use your ranges for State mandated firearms qualifications. In return, you will have thousands of trained eyes and ears and backups available to you and your Deputies.

Make the resources of our Industry a part of your crime fighting arsenal at no cost beyond “professional recognition.”

On behalf of Florida's Licensed Security Industry, I thank you for the honor of allowing me to speak to you today.

© Copyright 2008 Florida Association of Security Companies. All rights reserved.