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Texas Churches May Establish and Maintain Their Own Security Teams

by Eric Inman

Ten years ago, a private security company in Texas posed a question to the TX dept. of public safety – whether c
hurches were subject to the regulations of occupational code section 1702, which regulate and license  private security companies.  The resulting opinion was that, yes, they were.

From that time forward, Texas churches were honor-bound to not operate armed security teams – unless team members held private security certifications, and were under the authority of a private security certificate holder’s license. 

The same company that posed the question immediately launched their solution: They would train church volunteers for armed security teams,  the church would pay for all the training, plus – churches would pay the company an hourly rate for any hours worked by the volunteers – who, essentially became unpaid employees of the company. The obvious implication was that the company planned this sweetheart deal all along.

Churches all over Texas were compelled to tell their retired law enforcement professionals, and others, who made up their volunteer teams, that they could no longer serve. Now, only active duty LEO’s, and/or level 4 (armed, 40 hours training) security officers could participate. Not surprisingly, 
many or most law enforcement retirees, with thousands of hours of training and experience, refused to become a private security guard for that purpose. Several of those honorably retired law enforcement professionals testified at various hearings during the past two legislative sessions. Additionally, not many of the approximately 24,000 evangelical Christian churches in Texas could afford to pay for this scheme… and the results were:  a) Churches ignored the opinion and continued to operate their teams, b) They complied, or, c) They disbanded their armed teams or never formed one.
Fortunately, in September 2017 that all changed. Due to the efforts of Rep. Matt Rinaldi, Rep. Matt Schaefer, and many others, HB421 was passed (under another bill as an add-on), which removed “places of worship” from the 1702 security regulations.

Happily, churches may now – without governmental interference – establish and maintain their own security teams, armed or otherwise.

E. Inman
Sr. Special Agent, USNPS, (Ret.)

Featured photo: Screen shot of Eric Inman testifying before the Texas House of Representatives Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee, March 7, 2017.  Homeland Security & Public Safety – Mar 7th, 2017

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  1. Glad that they finally did this but the article is misleading. They cannot form and maintain a security team or element….they can form whatever they want to call it but they cannot use the term “security team” or call the members “security officers”…Response team, Shepherd Team, Safety Ministry whatever, but they cannot give the appearance of being security officers. If an individual intends to volunteer in one of these capacities then they may can’t carry or wear anything that identifies themselves as security(badges, duty belts, name plates with security on it), regardless of whether or not they possess an LTC. So yea….arguing semantics here but it’s important for churches to fully understand this to stay out of trouble.

    1. The caveat in the code, 1702.333 is that they can not wear a uniform giving the impression that they are peace officers or security officers. The term “security team” in conjunction with “volunteers” is fine. “Duty belt” is not seen anywhere in the Texas Penal Code. If you can legally carry your pistol openly, carrying it in a black holster on a black belt, with two, four or more black magazine holders, a pepper spray holder, restraining devices, flashlight holder, key holder, etc will not violate the statue. Uniforms are a specific clothing combination with particular insignia patches etc.

  2. A “duty belt” is not an issue. The question should be, who can carry what? Are these “security team volunteers” allowed to carry subject to regular Texas Penal Code Chapter 46 guidelines? Meaning person’s in control of a property (open or concealed handguns), licensed carry holders (open or concealed handguns), and any long gun?

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