State Agents Find Some Companies Give Filmmakers False Sense of Security

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Are the security guards present on your set qualified and legally permitted to do the work you’ve hired them to do?

If arranging on-location set security is one of your job responsibilities, you owe it to yourself and your production to make sure the private security companies you hire meet all state requirements applicable to private Licensed Patrol Operators (LPOs) and guards.

According to the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS), some private security companies are now marketing their services to filmmakers without verifying that the guards with whom they contract carry appropriate California credentials.

The situation is serious, because hiring unlicensed personnel can cause your insurance company to deny claims from your production, thereby invalidating your coverage and making your production financially liable for on-set accidents and theft (and we all know cameras aren’t cheap).

There are also steep penalties for ignoring the requirement. Per state law, any person found to knowingly engage a nonexempt, unlicensed security guard is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $5000, up to one year in county jail, or both!

Licensed guards must pass a California Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation background check, have 40 or more hours of required training and prove themselves proficient in security topics before being issued a license.

LPOs also undergo an extensive testing and licensing process and are educated about their legal responsibilities to their clients. LPOs can hire only licensed guards and must carry workers compensation and liability insurance, among other obligations.

BSIS maintains a website where filmmakers can verify that the security companies they hire are appropriately licensed. Visit and click on the “Instant License Check” link at the upper left to get started.

And, just to be on the safe side, call your security operator(s) and ask if they verify their employees’ state credentials. LPOs should confirm that their employees’ state license numbers and names match what is listed in the BSIS database to protect themselves from being victims of fraud.

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