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Requirements to be an armed guard in Columbia don’t include training

After court documents revealed Monday that an armed security guard shot and killed Anthony Warren “in order to protect himself and the other customers,” ABC17 News learned more about Columbia’s policies and requirements for an armed security guard. The requirements to become a security guard regulated through local municipalities.

Guards, armed or not, must obtain their license through the city of Columbia. An armed guard pays a $25 application fee and an unarmed security guard pays a $20 fee.

A guard must be at least 21 years old, have no felony convictions within 10 years of applying and pass a test put together by the Police Department on gun use and safety. If a guard uses their weapon, they must report the circumstances to the chief of police within 24 hours, according to the rules.

They’re also required to take and pass a written test at the Columbia Police Department that includes three sections: firearms safety, law and skills. A 70 percent or more on each section allows them to pass, but they’re able to retake it if they fail.

ABC17 News was able to look at the test Tuesday, but reporters were asked not to take photos or video. There were less than 20 questions per section.

In a general sense, the questions require the applicant to know when someone is allowed to shoot at another person, how to properly handle a gun and what to do in specific situations. There are several questions that ask the applicant to identify when the use of deadly force is appropriate.

The test also requires the applicant to know that armed security guards don’t have the same status as a law enforcement officer. They have the powers of a private citizen.

But at the same time, law enforcement training expert Adam Duncan said an armed guard’s situation is elevated, and they’re not likely to be in the same situations a private citizen would be in.

“If there is some sort of a disturbance, their job is to intervene,” he said. “They are much more likely to be involved in a high stress, high risk situation than even another employee at the same location.”

Duncan said because of that, there are some elements and nuances of training that a law enforcement officer receives that would be beneficial to armed security guards, like deescalation and crisis intervention.

“They’re not something that you can test, per se,” he said. “That’s an important element of training that may be missing because of the lack of standardization [for security officers].”

Many security guards do have some sort of law enforcement or military background.

So far, the armed security guard that shot Warren has not been charged, nor has there been an announcement of an investigation.

On the night of the deadly fight, ABC17 News crews confirmed that Signal 88 Security was on scene. ABC17 News reached out to Signal 88 Security to see if it had any internal policy of investigation into deadly incidents involving its employees.

We reported Monday night that any armed guards that discharge their firearm in Columbia must report it to the chief of police or a designated subordinate within 24 hours. ABC17 News is waiting to hear back from the Columbia Police Department on the question of whether Chief Ken Burton was informed.

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