By John-Michael Gillaspy | G2 Security Solutions
At least 4 or more times a month I get a call, email, or text regarding whether a CHL holder can legally provide security as part of a church security team. As both a CHL training school as well as a state licensed security academy, we are uniquely poised to answer this type of question. Before I get into the technical aspect, the answer is a definite NO. A CHL holder may not provide armed security using their CHL for a church security team or any other business/nonprofit.
To start, what would you need to legally provide security services to a church or business? You would generally need:
- A state license as a security contractor (Texas Occupations Code 1702.102)
- An individual Security Officer license (Texas Occupations Code 1702.222)
- Depending on the license you may need a distinct DPS approved security uniform
There are two types of licenses a church could get to legally have security officers providing security services. The first is a license as a guard company. This would allow them to both provide security for themselves as well as contract to other businesses to provide security services. This wouldn’t make much sense for a church. The second, is a private letter of authority (PLOA). This allows the church to create an in house security department with armed security officers. Both licenses have the same general requirements to start. To get licensed as a guard company/PLOA you must have insurance and what is called a Qualified Manager. A Qualified Manager is someone who has at least three years of licensed security experience with two of those years being verifiable experience in a supervisory role. The Qualified Manager candidate then must pass an exam with DPS in Austin. Upon passing, they can be licensed as a Qualified Manager for the guard company/PLOA.
Once the company license is taken into account, you must also consider the personal licenses required to provide security. A security officer has an individual license that is registered under the company license or PLOA. There are three types of security officer licenses in Texas:
- Level II Non Commissioned Officer: This license requires a 6 hour all classroom based course, and an FBI background check. A Non Commissioned Security Officer is unarmed and must wear a distinctive DPS approved uniform. The main purpose of this type of officer is the phrase most associated with security, Observe and Report. You are generally there to be a good witness.
- Level III Commissioned Security Officer: This license requires the previous Level II course, a 40 hour Level III course, and the prior FBI background check. The training for this license consists of classroom, defense tactics, handcuffing, and firearms training. A Commissioned Security Officer openly carries a handgun and may also carry a baton, chemical dispensing device (OC), Taser, etc. Commissioned Officers also must wear a distinct DPS approved uniform and can at no time conceal their weapon while on duty and/or in uniform. The main purpose of this type of officer is to actively prevent and deter crime. Observe and report is now a secondary function and the officer is to actively protect the clients and property in accordance with clients procedures as well as state/federal law.
- Level IV Personal Protection Officer: This license requires all previous training and the FBI background check. The training for this license consists of 15 hours of additional law, defense tactics, and OC training. In addition to the training and background check a PPO must also submit an MMPI (psych test) administered by a Texas Psychologist. A PPO is the ONLY security officer that may carry a concealed weapon. When on duty a PPO generally wears plain clothes, because they are the only license type that may do so and they want to blend in. If in plain clothes, they must carry their weapon concealed. If providing service in uniform the same rules apply as a commissioned officer and the weapon must be carried openly. The main purpose of this type of license is direct protection of a client or clients IE: Priest, preacher, etc.
Without going through the proper licensing procedures to provide security a CHL holder opens themselves up to large amounts of legal liability. Firstly, you can be charged with “Impersonating Security Officer” (Texas Occupations Code 1702.3875), providing security services without a company license (1702.388), and if you use your firearm you may have lost your justification for deadly force because you are breaking the law (Texas Penal Code 9.31(a)(3)). Both the impersonation and providing a regulated service without a license charges are Class A misdemeanors and would, if convicted, result in the loss of your CHL for 5 years.
DPS’s opinion statement on this subject can be found here:
DPS states the one exception to the licensing requirement for non-peace officers in this instance would be “However, there is one exception to licensing under Chapter 1702 provided by the legislature that could arguably apply, which can be found in section 1702.323 (“Security department of Private Business”). This exception would allow volunteers to provide security services exclusively for one church, as long as they do not carry firearms and as long as they do not wear “a uniform with any type of badge commonly associated with security personnel or law enforcement or a patch or apparel with ‘security’ on the patch or apparel.” See Tex. Occ. Code §1702.323(a) & (d)(2). Thus, the wearing of a uniform or any apparel containing the word “security” would subject them to the licensing requirements of the act.”
The ONLY other exception to the licensing requirements we have discussed is the use of an off duty full time peace officer. Full time peace officers are exempted from the need for a security contractor or security officer license, and they may provide security off duty and armed in or out of uniform.
Now outside of this, an individual not providing security may be an usher, pastor, member of the congregation, etc. carrying into a church under their CHL. Do not mistake this as us telling you that you may not carry into a church that isn’t properly post with a 30.06 sign under your CHL. This simply means that you cannot use your CHL to provide security while there.
We want to keep you, the CHL holder, safe and out of trouble. If you have any questions regarding this article or security in general, feel free to contact me.
About the Author
John-Michael Gillaspy is the owner of G2 Security Solutions, Inc. a physical security and investigations company as well as a security training academy. He is a firearms, security, and defense tactics instructor licensed by the state of Texas and certified both nationally and internationally. He is also the President of Security Officer’s Brotherhood. Security Officer’s Brotherhood is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing training requirements, affecting positive change in the security profession, and recognizing security officers.
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