Newspaper: Illinois has lack of oversight on security guards

CHICAGO (AP) - A newspaper investigation has found that private security guards in Illinois often aren't as closely monitored as police officers, who in recent years have faced scrutiny over excessive force.

The Chicago Tribune analyzed state and police records, court documents and media reports to find that security guards deliberately fired a gun in a work-related situation 40 times from April 2011 to June 2018. Eleven people died in these shootings.

Illinois law requires security companies to report such shootings to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, which licenses guards. The agency also has the ability to investigate cases and evaluate if guards are fit for duty. Some small forces, such as in-house security of fewer than five guards, are exempt from reporting shootings.

The newspaper found 11 shootings since 2011 that weren't reported as required. Records show that none of the companies were disciplined for failing to report.

R. Paul McCauley, a professor emeritus of criminology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said the unreported shootings signal a lack of accountability in the industry.

"I think that's unacceptable," he said. "I'm assuming the legislative intent was not to allow security people to be so-called cowboys."

The newspaper also found no record in the past seven years of the state disciplining a guard for playing a role in a shooting.

Illinois requires guards to undergo a background check, but doesn't require a mental health examination. There is no law barring convicted felons or registered sex offenders from becoming a guard.

Armed guards undergo 40 hours of training, half of which is focused on firearms. In comparison, Chicago police spend nine months training in the academy and on the street.

More than 97,000 people are licensed to be armed guards in the state as of June.

The profession is dangerous, with records indicating that at least a dozen guards in recent years have been shot, the newspaper found. Those shootings resulted in six guards dying, including a security guard killed in a Robbins bar last month by police responding to a call.

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