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Could a mental health screening have stopped the Orlando shooter?

This past weekend the largest mass shooting in US history took place at a nightclub in the city of Orlando, with 49 killed and more still hospitalized. The shooter was a licensed security guard employed by G4S Security Solutions for several years. G4s claims that it had run two background checks on the shooter and that nothing strange had been. With mass shootings becoming more frequent, mental health screening of security officers and law enforcement has come under scrutiny. Security companies must re-assess how they screen candidates so tragedies such as this are not repeated.

Requirements To Become An Armed Security Officer In FL

Before an individual can become a security guard in Florida, he or she must be licensed through the Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing. According to the State, to apply for a license an individual must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and have a permanent address. Legal aliens authorized to work in the U.S. can also apply for a license. Also, an individual must complete 40 hours of training through a licensed security officer school or training course before becoming a security officer. To receive an armed guard license officers are required to complete the Florida G License firearms training course to work as an armed security guard. A mental health screening is not a requirement by the State of Florida to become an armed security guard. With the recent incident, perhaps the State of Florida will review its requirements to license persons seeking to become security guards, and in turn avoid future tragedies. The State has not yet issued a statement on licensing the shooter.

Surprising Facts

In the vast majority of states, armed security officers are not required to undergo mental health screenings. Critics believe this could have detrimental effects on safety at schools, businesses, and other places where such officers are deployed. Currently, only Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Delaware require security officers to take mental health screening or psychological tests to carry a firearm. In 2013, at least seven states had armed officers on their school campuses.

What Type Of Screening Do Security Guards Generally Undergo Prior To Employment

Generally, the following checks are run on those seeking employment as security officers

  • Criminal record
  • Previous employment
  • Educational history
  • Driver’s license record
  • Social security
  • Credit reporty
  • Drug test
  • Work references

As previously mentioned in this article, most states do not require armed security officers to undergo mental health screenings. However, there are many reputable security guard companies that do issue psychological assessment tests to screen guard candidates. According to guidetopsychology.com, psychological assessment tests fall under the following categories:

Achievement and aptitude tests are usually done in educational or employment settings, and they attempt to measure either how much you know about a certain topic, such as mathematics or spelling, or how much of a capacity you have to master material in a particular area, such as mechanical relationships. 

Intelligence tests attempt to measure your intelligence and basic ability to understand the world around you, assimilate its functioning, and apply this knowledge to enhance the quality of your life. The challenge is to design a test that can actually be free of cultural bias, most intelligence tests fail in this area to some extent for one reason or another.

Neuropsychological tests attempt to measure deficiency in cognitive functioning (your ability to think, speak, reason, etc.) that may result from some kind of brain damage, possibly by stroke or a brain injury.

Occupational tests try to match your interests with the interests of persons in known careers. The logic behind this is that if things that interest you in life match up with the things that interest most school teachers, then you might make a good teacher yourself.

Personality tests measure basic personality style and are most used in research or forensic settings to help with clinical diagnoses. Two well-known personality tests are:

  • The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), or the revised MMPI-2, composed of several hundred yes or no questions.
  • The Rorschach test, composed of several cards of inkblots, in which you simply give a description of the images and feelings you experience in looking at the blots.

There are also other clinical tests that measure a subject’s current level of anxiety or depression.
ASIS (American Society for Industrial Security) International released a message of support for Orlando and the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. To aid the city of Orlando and the security community, ASIS is making available (free of charge) many of its materials on active shooters and protecting soft targets.

Pro-Secur offers its condolences to the families of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Many hospitals are still in need of blood donations. To find your nearest blood donation center please visit aabb.org or oneblood.org.

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