13. Do I Need A License If I’m A Police Officer?

This requires a detailed answer, as many have been misinformed, uninformed, or simply don’t like what the law says and do it anyway, so let’s run through this :

First, let’s address the obvious that yes, you are police officer 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the ability to carry your police ID and your firearm with state backing and your department’s authorization. With that said, all customers and businesses should be aware that many police departments have policies in place that prohibit their officers from working non-departmental approved security details. Many departments also have policies against their officers or representatives from having anything to do with a private security agency.

Currently, if you are a Full-Time, Active, Peace Officer, in a sworn position, not on administrative or disciplinary leave OR retired, then you do not need to take any security guard classes nor hold any security licenses. With that said, we at TCTA think that if you are dressing up or wearing a security uniform that may open up another door where licenses and classes may be required in our opinion under 1702 OCC. *Special attention to the fact that volunteer officers, reserve officers, retired officers,  or anyone that does not qualify under 1701 of the Texas Penal Code as being a current and active peace officer, and anyone not a full-time peace officer must take the security classes and hold the security licenses if working off-duty “security details” (outside of their department). Please note: Just because you are a police officer does not make every security detail a “police detail”- so a word of caution with semantics and the law.  Last point here- If you only graduated from the police academy but are not in a sworn, and current, peace officer position, you are not a peace officer (sorry), and would need to take the classes and get licensed. Many graduate from the police academy and have not been hired on yet with a department and keep telling everyone they are a “Certified Peace Officer”- no you are not if not on a Department, and in a Sworn position.

Now, Can You Work Security As An Off-Duty Police Officer?

The short answer is: Yes. Ideally, if it is an off-duty security detail than that officer’s department or agency should approve (and most require a heads-up). Some even require a contract with the department and the business to provide this service. As stated prior many departments have policies and restrictions in place that prevent their officers from working “non-department approved”- off-duty security details.

How Do You Know If It Is Okay As A Business Owner Or Client To Hire A Police Officer?

Call the department, speak with the Watch Commander or any representative there, and they will inform you. Ask prior to hiring that off-duty officer, if that department will cover your business insurance wise (most will not -so if your business is targeted in a lawsuit you will not be protected by the police officer’s department)- another reason to employ a security agency that is fully insured to protect their client as well.

What if you are not a “Full-Time” peace officer but you are classifying your security detail as a “Police Detail?”

Okay, that means your client has a contract with the City/County/State and your department correct? – If not, then you have a problem. If you are not a full-time peace officer and this is not a department provided detail – you cannot just classify yourself and your detail as a “police detail” and exempt yourself from the requirements of being licensed- remember only full-time police officers are exempt from obtaining security licenses when working off-duty security details.

An area where there is a bigger concern especially to the private security industry and citizens is when we have off-duty peace officers running their own “Unlicensed security, Security Consulting or Bodyguard agencies” because they carry a badge. Just to be clear, off-duty police officers can work security as described above but they need to be working for a licensed security guard company or a department sanctioned detail, or a business with Letter of Authority from DPS to run a security department –one of the three.

Although full-time peace officers can work as a security officer or bodyguard without licenses, one thing many are confused on, and often lines are crossed with the fact that you CANNOT run an actual Security Guard company, Security Consulting business, or Bodyguard agency without being licensed and insured as a company as per Texas law; it is a Class – A Misdemeanor arrestable offence to do so. Keep in mind working “off duty security” for a licensed company and not be required to have pocket cards is completely different than running an entire off-duty unlicensed guard company whereas you have your own client(s), you are being paid directly from the client as their employee or 10-99 (subcontractor)- then you have taken the issue from “pocket cards” into now running an illegal company (two different things).

What’s The Definition Of Running A Security Company?

A: You have one client and you are providing a service for money, (you are being paid not your department) or there is a barter, free rent, or some type of compensation, to includes, donating your time or volunteering at a church – you are still providing a service in a “service or company” capacity. If you wish to claim that you’re an employee of the location, then you still need a Letter of Authority from DPS to run a security department of the business. Sorry, there’s no way around it legally. Our question which should be your client’s question is “Who is providing the required insurance coverage to your client if your police department is not?”

It does not take a website, a business card, or written contract to define your activities as running an unlicensed business. As stated prior, if you have one client that is paying you to perform a service, you’re running a business (if done outside of a contracted police department detail) – get a business license or contract out with a company that has one. A police badge is not meant to allow full-blown private companies (or covert companies) to be formed and operate without state required licensing and insurance. There is a big difference between working as a security officer and running an entire unlicensed company.

Let’s make sure that while we are enforcing the law on a daily basis as peace officers, that we are also obeying the law at night when working a non-departmental security detail for private clients and not running an unlicensed company or operating as such. Any questions or clarification on this topic, feel free to contact us at any time and we will point you in the right direction.

As we tell others when they violate the law:  “Just pay the fee, get the proper license and insurance.”