Inside look: Security guard training in Virginia

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — What training do security guards receive in Virginia?

Last week, police charged a Chesapeake security guard with second-degree murder after they say he shot a man in the River Walk community back in January. Police say it happened during a confrontation between 21-year-old security officer Johnathon Cromwell and 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen.

In response to the shooting, Representative Bobby Scott (D – VA) called for Congress to work together to review all law enforcement training, including security guards.

10 On Your Side found out what training security guards go through. Private security company Top Guard agreed to let a WAVY crew in their classrooms for a firsthand look. Cromwell did not work for Top Guard.

Christopher Stuart first stepped into the world of private security 30 years ago. He has spent most of that time as vice president of Top Guard.

“Historically, security is a distinct, defined role on a client’s property,” Stuart said.

Stuart said in Virginia, all security guards — armed and unarmed — have to register with the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

“The amount of time that unarmed officers have been in class has increased,” Stuart said. “The amount of time and the subject matter for armed officers has also increased.”

Before security guards can register with the state, they have to complete training.

“They have 90 days from that point to complete core subjects training,” instructor Peter Lupica said.

Down the hall from Top Guard, you will find Lupica teaching future security guards in the Coastal Virginia Training Academy.

Lupica said for 18 hours, unarmed guards learn Virginia laws and how to report what they see to police.

“Unarmed security officers have no arrest authority,” Lupica said.

To become an armed guard: 50 or more hours of training and classes. That includes 24 hours of firearms training.

In Lupica’s course, he goes over the shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. Then they do eight hours of arrests.

“Strictly on how to make an arrest and what the laws are,” Lupica explained.

In Virginia, armed security guards have the authority to make arrests on the property they patrol.