The Ohio Department of Public Safety has launched a tip-line to reduce unlicensed or unregistered security guard activity as state officials say the problem is growing and present in Northeast Ohio and statewide.
"There are a lot of people across the state who work unlicensed," said Geoff Dutton, executive director of the Ohio Dept. of Public Safety's Private Investigator Security Guard Services.
The Private Investigator Security Guard Services is a component of the Ohio Department of Public Safety and is encouraging the public to use a new text-a-tip line if they see someone working who is unlicensed or unregistered and / or someone carrying a weapon without proper firearm authorization.
They encourage anyone to use the number at any time they have questions about a security guard so they can verify if they're working legally.
The number for the tipline is 614 705-2TIP (2847).
Ohio law states that all security companies and each individual guard in the state must be licensed. In order to get a license, guards must go through an extensive criminal background check, firearms training and have proof of liability insurance.
"If you're someone who wants to get in this line of work, and you're not willing to get insurance, you could be a real risk and danger to everybody," added Dutton. "You don't want somebody who is providing security with a weapon on their belt and badge on their shirt who has no business being in that position."
On Thursday, Franklin Harris of Toledo was found guilty of two counts of providing security services without a license, a fifth-degree felony. It's the first felony case of its kind. Harris faces up to a year in prison. He was working as an unlicensed armed security guard in bars and clubs and has two prior misdemeanor convictions in the past 14 months for working unlicensed.