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New Training and Background Check Requirements Implemented by Denver for Security Guards on Nov 1


DENVER – The most commonly issued professional license in Denver is undergoing major changes. Denver is replacing the Merchant Guard Individual and Merchant Guard Company Licenses with a new Security Guard and Private Security Employer Licenses effective on November 1. The new licenses will have additional training requirements and strengthened background checks, so security guards in Denver are better prepared to protect and a stronger shield will be in place to prevent guards with past criminal convictions from working in Denver. Notable changes and new requirements for security guards and private security employers include:


  • Security guards will be required to submit a FBI background check that covers criminal violations on a national level instead of a Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) background check, which doesn’t always flag crimes committed outside of Colorado.
  • In-house security companies will no longer be exempt from licensing.  Any employer of security guards will be required to have a private security employer license. This includes bars and clubs that hire their own security.
  • Security guards will be required to complete at least 16 hours of training before being licensed, and 8 hours of training upon renewal. Training must cover duties of a security guard, communication procedures and protocols, interaction with law enforcement and use of force.
  • Clearer standards for the use of uniforms, vehicles and canines.
  • License applications will now be accepted online to improve convenience.
  • Security guard licenses no longer required in many circumstances for ticket takers and ushers at events when they have no security role.
  • “As Denver rapidly expands, so has the number of security guards,” said Ashley Kilroy, Executive Director of Denver Excise and Licenses. “We are eager to implement these new requirements for security guards and private security employers. Security guards in Denver will be better equipped to report potentially violent situations and will have a better understanding how to work with law enforcement. We believe these new requirements will play an important role in our continued efforts to improve overall public safety in the Mile High City.”

    There are currently more than 7,000 Merchant Guard Licenses issued in Denver. Existing Merchant Guard and Merchant Guard Company Licenses issued before November 1 are valid until their expiration date when they are required to obtain the new licenses.

    Denver is one of only 3 cities in Colorado that requires a private security employer and security guard to be licensed. The other cities are Colo. Springs and Glendale. There is no state security guard license in Colorado like many other states. These strengthened security guard requirements are a result of Denver City Council Ordinance 17-1177 passed in November of 2017. As with any major changes to a current business license, Denver Excise and Licenses held public hearings to get community and stakeholder input before writing the rules. More information on Security Guard and Private Security Guard Employer Licenses can be found at


    About Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses

    The Department of Excise and Licenses (EXL) is the central business and professional licensing department for the City and County of Denver. The department issues approximately 180 different business license types including marijuana, liquor, short-term rentals, security guards and food trucks. EXL determines the qualifications for licenses under city ordinance and determines which licenses should be issued, renewed or suspended while ensuring consumer safety, protecting the community and promoting economic development. The department is also responsible for inspections and enforcement of business licensing requirements and the public hearing process that accompanies many business licenses. EXL also encompasses Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP), originally established in 2014 to recommend, administer and implement policies; oversee and coordinate city agencies; and act as a liaison between Denver and other local, state and federal officials, agencies, and stakeholders. OMP merged with EXL in 2016 and assists with coordination of marijuana regulation, education and enforcement efforts throughout Denver.