The law was passed nearly three years ago, but new licensing requirements for security guards are still catching many by surprise. The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has been flooded with applications, which began arriving by the hundreds in late March.
“Very busy, the executive staff is pretty much going crazy staying late nights and they’ve been doing Saturdays,” said Douglas Inouye, chairman of the Board of Private Detectives and Guards, which developed some of the new criteria for the industry.
Enacted in July of 2010 as Act 208, the law requires all security guards to have a high school diploma or GED, and receive additional training before applying for a state license.
According to DCCA estimates from 2010, there are 10,700 workers in Hawaii employed in the security guard field. To date, 2,992 people have been registered, or are pending approval.
“We are currently working now on applications, (and) we have a thousand that came in last week,” said Charlene Tamanaha, executive officer of the Board of Private Detectives and Guards.
Recognizing that many people will not meet Monday’s deadline to become licensed, DCCA will allow security guards to remain on the job as long as they turn in applications before the cutoff date.
“If however, we find that they aren't (in compliance) and there's something amiss or some component is missing, then we will deny that application," said Inouye.
DCCA formed an ad-hoc in July of 2010 keep industries that employ security guards better informed about the new requirements under Act 208. But Sen. Will Espero, one of six co-sponsors of the bill, blames the agency for the number of security guards who have not yet complied.
"The outreach from the state was lacking and it was subpar, Espero told Kitv4"
The law requires all present and future security guards to complete an 8-hour course at one of seven community colleges across the state. The course is followed by a written exam and four hours of on-the-job training. Those who pass the course must also continue their training by receiving four hours of classroom time every year, or a total of eight hours in a biennium.
Travis Pelch of Aiea, turned in his application for a state license on Thursday, spending about $200 for the entire process, which includes finger printing. But since he doubles as both the resident manager and security guard for his condominium in Aiea, Pelch will be reimbursed. That’s not the case for many security guards trying to meet the new mandates.
"If you have to pay out of pocket, it's definitely much more of a burden,” said Pelch. “All in all, it's business fees and you need to have it to do the job."