You must do these things to safely hire an Armed Guard

In the course of doing business, it is necessary to occasionally (or permanently for some industries) hire Armed Guard services. The following list covers the most frequent questions we receive and will serve as a guide in general when engaging Armed Guard services. We seek first and foremost to provide plain, honest information on the use of Armed Guards in California and what you should expect from reputable security & investigation firms.

1- What is the difference between an Armed Guardand Unarmed Security?

The biggest difference is the amount of training and field experience when it comes to dealing with threats and violence.  

Our clients specifically want an ex-cop, not a security guard.  Why?  Peace Officers’ are generally granted their firearm permit card and CCW at a much higher rate than civilians, since they are retired Peace Officers.  They are therefore uniquely suited to perform armed bodyguard service.  Most civilian security guards are not even allowed to carry a baton.  For real protection, armed guards are the only way to go. 

In addition, the more trained someone is, the better prepared they are to act when it counts.  Our team members have real field experience and years of training and drills.  There is no comparison to a civilian who filled out an application for a guard card and took a weekend course versus a Peace Officer.  Peace Officers undergo extensive background checks, stress tests, physical standards, and decades of training at a level far beyond a civilian security guard.

Most civilian security guards have not dealt with threats and situations involving physical violence.   Their inexperience can lead to injury, death, and claims of negligence.  Our Armed Guards are active or retired Peace Officers. They have been trained, vetted, and have dealt with real violence.  

It is also critical to note how California law makes a distinction between Unarmed Security, which is known as a Proprietary Private Security Officer or “PPSO” and an Armed Security Guard.   Business and Professions Code Section 7574.01(f) defines a proprietary private security officer, as follows:

7574.01 (f) “Proprietary Private Security Officer” means an unarmed individual who is employed exclusively by any one employer whose primary duty is to provide security services for his or her employer, whose services are not contracted to any other entity or person, and who is not exempt pursuant to Section 7582.2, and who meets both of the following criteria: (1) Is required to wear a distinctive uniform clearly identifying the individual as a security officer. (2) Is likely to interact with the public while performing his or her duties.

For Armed Guards, we must look under the section on Private Patrol Operator and Security Guards – Business and Professions Code Section 7582.1(a) defines a private patrol operator and Section 7582.1(e) defines a security guard, as follows: 

7582.1(a) A private patrol operator, or operator of a private patrol service, within the meaning of this chapter is a person, other than an armored contract carrier, who, for any consideration whatsoever: Agrees to furnish, or furnishes, a watchman, guard, patrolperson, or other person to protect persons or property or to prevent the theft, unlawful taking, loss, embezzlement, misappropriation, or concealment of any goods, wares, merchandise, money, bonds, stocks, notes, documents, papers, or property of any kind; or performs the service of a watchman, guard, patrolperson, or other person, for any of these purposes. 

7582.1(e) A security guard or security officer, within the meaning of this chapter, is an employee of a private patrol operator, or an employee of a lawful business or public agency who is not exempted pursuant to Section 7582.2, who performs the functions as described in subdivision (a) on or about the premises owned or controlled by the customer of the private patrol operator or by the guard’s employer or in the company of persons being protected.

Nolan Enterprises is a licensed California Private Patrol Operator, and also holds a Private Investigation license.  We are capable of protecting private property, lives, and conducting investigations on behalf of clients. 

The California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services has issued its “Powers to Arrest” manual which covers the specific roles of Armed Security Guards and Unarmed Security, which is known as Proprietary private security officer or PPSO.   

  • A security guard’s registration card does not allow the security guard to carry a weapon; the security guard must also have a valid exposed firearm permit and/or a baton certificate. It is ILLEGAL to carry a firearm without a firearm permit and a valid security guard registration. It is ILLEGAL to carry a baton without a baton permit and a valid security guard registration.  
  • A proprietary private security officer’s registration card does not allow the proprietary private security officer to carry a weapon. 
  • A firearm permit and/or a baton permit cannot be issued to a PPSO registrant.

Which would you rather have protecting your employees, guests, and yourself?  Unarmed Security guards are not allowed to carry a weapon – how can they properly respond to a life-threatening situation when seconds count?

2- What does it cost to hire an off-duty cop?

The answer is: less than you think!

Our rates are competitive and depend on the length of assignment, number of Armed Guards, and whether 24-hour protection is needed.  Generally, you should expect to pay between $75-105 per hour for each armed guard.   Compare that to New York and Florida, where rates range from $95-135 an hour. 

To give you a more accurate quote, we recommend you consider the following questions and gather the relevant information:

  • Will you need permanent re-occurring armed guards? Or is this a one-off event?  Is this an annual event?
  • Do you need patrolling guards covering multiple facilities?  Or only at one location?
  • Will guests/members of the public be on the premises?
  • What level of security do your clients, guests, and employees expect?

Each Armed Guard working for Nolan Enterprises is extremely responsive, yet respectful and discrete.  If our client does not like one of our team members, they are gone…immediately.  We are used to serving wealthy/powerful/famous clients and are aware many clients do not want to be bothered/do not want to talk and we will only engage with them if they initiate a conversation.  Anyone who doesn’t get the picture is gone.

Our clients include Corporate Security Managers, HR Managers, Entertainment/Employment law attorneys, and private citizens. The clients who seek us out are looking for real Law Enforcement Officers, armed and ready to protect lives and property. 

When it comes to cost, weigh the proactive use of professional Armed Guards versus the expense stemming from a wrongful death lawsuit or damage to your reputation. 

 Clients often hired Armed Guards for the following events and services:

  • Hostile termination of an aggrieved employee
  • Workplace Threats made against co-worker(s) and/or management
  • Facility protection for Manufacturing / Industrial plants
  • Protection for Churches/Places of Worship
  • Hospitals & Medical Facilities (dealing with overcrowding; irate, angry patients or guests; theft; mentally ill transients) 
  • Marijuana dispensaries
  • Entertainment (talent being stalked/harassed; body guard services)
  • Home Protection (we serve Private Citizens with on-premises 24-hour protection with active/retired Peace Officers)

3- How qualities should I look for in an armed guard?

  • A valid firearm qualification card
  • A valid Carrying Concealed Weapons license (known as a “CCW”)
  • Insurance
  • Training

Make sure they are licensed to perform guard work in California and have all necessary licenses and permits.   

To verify a Private Patrol Operator License, click here

To verify a Private Investigator License, click here

To verify a Firearm Permit, click here

BSIS does not currently have an online system for verifying CCWs.  

Make sure that the Armed Guard you hire has liability insurance covering at least one million, preferably five million in coverage.  It is normal to request a copy of their insurance coverage.  

Last, ask about training.  Request a CV for each of the Armed Guards working on your assignment.  If necessary, speak with the Armed Guards directly and inquire into their field experience dealing with hostile guests, threats, crowds, and violence.  

Unarmed security guards are a useful layer of security, but Armed Guards give you need peace of mind.  When there is a high threat potential, or athletes/celebrities/VIPs will be in a large open venue, use trained professionals.   Our team members have previous experience with protecting high-value targets.

4- Why do I need to hire an armed guard?

As funny as it sounds…to do actual guard work! Did you know that under California law: 

The main role of a security guard/proprietary private security officer should be PREVENTION.  If prevention is not possible, the role of a security guard/proprietary private security officer should be to OBSERVE and REPORT.

This means that in the time of need, your unarmed security guard literally cannot help you.  They are legally bound to either prevent the situation, OR takes notes, and call for help, adding more time before real help can arrive and respond.

The BSIS Powers of Arrest manual also contains this caveat: 

The above direction is a suggestion and is at the discretion of the employer. Some employers may want their security personnel to be more proactive as long as they stay within the parameters of what is lawful regarding private persons (citizen’s) arrest.

As retired Peace Officers, we know when and how to intervene.  If you want to take a more proactive approach to your security, we can help you to legally and effectively handle all situations.  There is a time to Prevent, there is a time to Observe and Report…and there is a time to Act. 

We recognize that carrying a firearm is a serious responsibility and can only be used in life-threatening situations.  Because of this, we have also been trained in CPR and other emergency services.  At Nolan Enterprises we are qualified to protect you and if necessary, to provide life-saving CPR.  

5- What can go wrong if I hire unarmed security instead of armed guards?

Reputations take a lifetime to build but a moment to destroy.  Your brand is too important to allow bad publicity or negative social media attention.  There is also criminal and/or civil liability for failure to provide adequate security, negligence, and acting in bad faith.  Here are some of the routine problems caused by inadequate security: 

  • A routine hostile termination can turn violent if the aggrieved employee feels that your security presence is lax
  • In an emergency, such as the COVID-19 scare, scarcity of resources can lead to aggressive/violent customers, theft, and looting
  • Drug addicted individuals who cannot access medicine may attempt to rob or steal goods
  • Aggressive patients and distraught family members may cause physical harm to staff and others
  • Active shooter event
  • Robbery
  • Loss of clientele due to poor/unsafe reputation 
  • Reputational harm caused by social media posts regarding lack of security
  • High-profile/high-net worth client discontinues your services

6- What are some additional benefits of hiring an armed guard?

Aside from being armed & ready to act, the team members at Nolan Enterprises distinguish themselves from unarmed security by talking the talk and walking the walk. 

We speak the hidden language of Police.  When we work a security detail, we often interact with active Law Enforcement.  They immediately recognize us as fellow brothers and treat us differently. 

We get greater access, more information, and cut through the red tape.  We excel at working with the fulltime regular Cops and getting results.  On many projects, we are Law Enforcement background makes a difference in how we are treated, and by extension, how our client is treated.  

Many of our team members have Specialist skills, including pilot’s licenses, counter-terrorism training, threat assessments, Emergency First Aid response, evasive driving, evacuation, crowd control, surveillance identification, etc.  Other areas of expertise include: 

7- How can tell if an armed guard company is legitimate?

First and foremost, look them up to make sure they are licensed.  If the company offers armed guard services, they will need to have a valid Private Patrol Operator (PPO) License.  California requires this license for companies to provide armed guard services for persons and property.  California Private Investigators can protect clients, but only if it is incidental to an ongoing investigation, and it does not apply to property.  For the most effective protection, look for companies that are licensed as both Private Patrol Operators and Private Investigators.  This will allow them to protect a client’s property and persons, as well conduct investigative work that will bolster the effectiveness of the armed protection services.  

The California Department of Consumer Affairs runs the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS), the agency that is responsible for licensing for PPO, PI, and Guard cards.  Their website allows consumers to verify licenses and look up past disciplinary actions.  

To verify a Private Patrol Operator License, click here

To verify a Private Investigator License, click here

To verify a Firearm Permit, click here

To verify a Guard Card, click here

We hope the above information will be of use to you as you select an Armed Guard.  We understand that different clients have different needs and offer a variety of armed protection solutions.  

Nolan Enterprises offers the following Armed Guard services to meet your needs:

Working closely with clients, we develop a security plan to ensure genuine protection.  

Contact a Licensed PI to get more information

 Call Tracey Nolan, a retired Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy:  951-415-8237


Nolan Enterprises Executive Protection, Surveillance & Investigations

Nolan Enterprises has 30 years of experience working to bridge the gap between corporate security needs and professional law enforcement. 

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