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How to Get a Guard Card

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Guard cards, also known as guard registrations, are issued by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services -- or BSIS -- and are legally required for anyone working as a security officer in California. Guard cards are intended for workers in all security-related positions, including bodyguards, bouncers, loss prevention officers, and guards in malls, stores, schools and other facilities. Candidates are eligible to apply for registration once they are 18 years old, complete the initial 40 hours of training and submit to a criminal background check.

Initial Instruction

Candidates must complete the eight-hour BSIS Power to Arrest course before they can apply for registration. The course can be completed online or in a classroom setting. The first component discusses topics such as escalation and de-escalation techniques, restraint methods and trespass laws, and concludes with a final exam. The second section focuses on weapons of mass destruction, the nature of terrorism and sharing critical information, and no exam is required.

Fingerprints and Forms

After completing the Power to Arrest training, candidates may submit applications for guard cards online through the BSIS website, along with a $51 fee, as of July 2012. The BSIS site also provides the form for fingerprint clearance as part of a background check. Candidates must locate the nearest live scan center and bring forms and fees, which were $32 for the California Department of Justice fingerprint and $17 for the Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint, as of July 2012. Accepted applicants receive their guard card in the mail in 10 to 15 business days.

Mandatory Courses

New guards must meet further requirements to maintain their registration. Within the first 30 days of being approved, guards must complete eight hours of mandatory training -- and another eight hours within the first six months. Mandatory courses highlight public relations, observation and documentation, communication and legal aspects. According to the BSIS Security Guard Training Regulation, guards must be trained in areas such as report writing, suspicious activity, crisis intervention and the role of a guard.

Training Electives

In addition to the mandatory courses, guards must complete eight hours of electives within 30 days of being approved for registration, and another eight hours within six months. The electives cover the processes and procedures of reporting, preserving incident scenes or chemical agents, among other topics. Additional electives include courtroom demeanor, handling difficult people, threat assessment, emergency response issues, first aid and CPR, liability implications, crowd control and site-specific training.