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Washington DC SOMB Security Guard Certification

Important Note: The information on this page has become dated. Please see the new Washington DC Security Officer and Special Police Officer (SPO) Portal for updated information concerning licensing, training and working security in Washington DC.

Unarmed security within the District of Columbia receives regulation from the Security Officer Management Branch of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department, also known as SOMB. SOMB provides both a Special Police Officer license and a Security Officer certification.

The regulation takes place under the provisions of the District's Title 17 of the DC Municipal Regulations.

Law enforcement officers, armored car drivers, campus police officers, special police (armed security) and security personnel working on behalf of the federal government are exempt from regulation as an unarmed security officer. They do not have to apply for the security officer certification.

To qualify for certification the applicant must have reached at least 18 years of age. He should either be a US citizen or maintain a valid work permit and must read, write and speak English. The applicant must receive a form from his physician declaring that he can accommodate the physical requirements of the job and isn't addicted to either drugs or alcohol. In fact, he must also submit to a drug test. Those who have incurred felonies and certain misdemeanors may be ineligible to apply pursuant to certain restrictions. A convicted felon will likely not receive licensure if he has been released from custody within the last two years. Certain exception process can come into play depending on the circumstances.

The applicant must allow the DC Police Department to take his fingerprints so as to facilitate the criminal background check. Additionally, the Department requires the submission of a least four one by one-half inch photographs.

Before the officer commences with his responsibilities he must take 24 hours of training. This training should be arranged through the employing agency. Within the first 90 days of the officer's employment he must also receive 16 hours of training while on the job. After the completion of this training the security agency should forward the notice of training completion to the Department.

The Department also administers the final written examination on behalf of the applicant although it may issue a temporary license to those who have met the general eligibility requirements. This license lasts for six weeks time. Subsequent temporary licenses may be issued as circumstances dictate.

To prepare for the SOMB examination the applicant should download and study the free 50-page Unarmed Security Exam Prep Guide from this site.

The initial request for an unarmed security certification must be accompanied by a $54 fee. DC Security officers renew certification on a yearly basis and the renewal fee costs $19. Additionally, a fee may charged to the test taker when he takes the required city-issued examination. Finally, depending on the location of the training the officer may need to pay for that as well. For instance, TW and Company charges unarmed officers a fee of $150.00 for the unarmed course.

Certifications are good for a one year period of time. Upon renewal the City conducts another background check to ensure the officer has not committed a crime.

Officers must meet a continuing education requirement of eight hours each year.

The powers of a person holding a DC unarmed security officer certification are the same as the average citizen. The certification itself grants no powers.

Step-by-Step Directions:

  • 1. Seek employment from a licensed Washington DC area security firm. The firm will sponsor the application for certification. Those wishing to work without the sponsorship of a firm must apply for an agency license. An agency license application costs $500.
  • 2. Complete the applications packet. This packet should be provided by the security firm and should include the application form, three fingerprint cards and the $54 application fee.
  • 3. Complete the training requirements. The training will meet the requirements necessary for receiving approval for the certification and prepare the officer for the city's examination.
  • 4. Study for the examination using the free Unarmed Security Officer Exam Prep Guide from this site.
  • 5. Take the examination.

Washington DC SOMB Special Police Commission

Important Note: The information on this page has become dated. Please see the new Washington DC Security Officer and Special Police Officer (SPO) Portal for updated information concerning licensing, training and working security in Washington DC.

In the District of Columbia, security officers may apply for a special police commission. This commission appears to function as the equivalent of an armed security guard license from many other jurisdictions. The rules governing the award of the commission and regulation of special police officer are established in Chapter 6A of the city's code.

In order to receive a special police commission the officer must be at least 21 years in age, a citizen, of good moral character, must not have received a dishonorable discharge from the military and can not have been released for incarceration for a felony offense within the last 10 years or a misdemeanor offence within the last 5. The applicant must also submit to drug and alcohol testing.

Special police officers are required to sit through at least 24 training hours related to the officer's duties as a commission officer and another 16 hours regarding arrest powers and search and seizure laws, the local DC code as well as use of force training. This training may be provided by area security training schools. Depending on the school the training may be taken during a concentrated period of time. For example, the CMS Training Academy provides the special police officer with unarmed training over the course of just one week. Armed training takes place over the time period of two additional weeks. The hiring security firm needs to provide the officer with another 16 hours of on-site training not more than 90 after he starts the job.

Each year, prior to renewing his commission, the special police officer must sit through an additional eight hours of training.

Special police commission applications require the submission of a $54 fee. Each year an additional $54 must be paid as part of the yearly renewal process.

The authority of the special police officer is limited to the jurisdiction to which he is assigned. His authority may extend to multiple sites if he assigned to a patrol involving more than one jurisdiction. He may also pursue and arrest a fleeing felon who has fled the property where the officer holds jurisdiction.

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