NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – New legislation called Dallas’ Law, enacted in January 2023 mandating more training for security officers, may have unintended consequences.
According to the CEO of a security company, the restrictions may prohibit some security officers from finding work or cause financial difficulties for others.
It all stems from an unfortunate incident in August 2021. That’s when 22-year-old Dallas Barrett died while security guards at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row held him down.
Those security officers have subsequently been charged in connection with his death. The case has yet to go to trial.
Gov. Bill Lee signed the Dallas’ Law legislation into effect back on Jan. 1 of this year. It mandates that security officers, primarily those working in establishments selling alcohol, get more training in de-escalation, first aid, safe restraint and CPR.
Jack Byrd, CEO for Solaren Risk Management, said his firm employs more than 400 people.
“It’s a tragedy. We cannot make light of what happened,” he said.
Byrd’s company runs security for some of the biggest clients in Tennessee.
“It takes incidents like that sometimes to bring about awareness,” Byrd said.
Byrd told News 2 he supports Dallas’ Law, but also said there have been some unintended consequences, not the least of which is financial implications.
“I’m disgusted to say exactly how much money people have lost, how many families this has actually impacted,” he said.
According to Byrd, his company now supplies licensed security officers to Dierks Bentley’s bar, the very bar where the incident happened and for which the law is named.
Byrd said he couldn’t discuss the incident, but admitted it was uncontrolled.
According to the Department of Commerce and Insurance, of the tens of thousands of licensed Tennessee security guards, both armed and unarmed, only a fraction have completed the mandatory course.
The Department of Commerce and Insurance said the numbers may be misleading because only security guards who work in establishments where alcohol is served must complete the training.
Here is the break down for the number of active security guard licenses in the state as of Feb. 14, according to the Department of Commerce and Insurance:
– Armed security guard -13,024
-State certified trainers – 453
-Unarmed security guards – 22,474
And here are the numbers for security guards who have been trained in accordance with Dallas’ Law:
Armed security guards – 635
State certified trainers – 76
Unarmed security guards – 630
Armed security guard – 627
State certified trainers – 87
Unarmed security guard – 616
First Aid Training:
Armed security guard – 613
State certified trainers – 76
Unarmed security guard – 620
Safe Restraint Training:
Armed security guard – 608
State certified trainers – 93
Unarmed security guard – 609
According to Kevin Walters with the Department of Commerce and Insurance:
- Only guards who work in establishments licensed/permitted for the consumption of on-premises alcohol consumption must complete the Dallas’ Law-related additional trainings.
- Off-duty law enforcement officers and other individuals exempt from registration requirements are not required to complete these trainings.
- Additionally, as security guards are not required to report where they work, until the department investigate a complaint or conduct a compliance inspection, the department is not aware of any violations based on numbers alone.
- Lastly, the department’s team is conducting routine compliance checks at locations that serve alcohol that are required to have guards in order to ensure they are compliant with the new trainings.
- The department understands there are continued conversations between industry and legislators
“I know that there are not enough trainers. I know that; I think the state knows that. There are not enough trainers teaching it who are capable of teaching it, because this came out, there was no warning, no answer to what was compliant and not compliant, and to this day there is still not an answer,” Byrd added.
Despite the requirements to the law, Byrd told News 2 his company is 100% certified and has plenty of staff to provide to clients.
Tennessee Rep. Bill Beck (D-Nashville) helped draft the legislation for Dallas’ Law.
“When we passed this bill last year, we set the effective date out a year, so the guards and the people who work at these establishments would have enough time to come into compliance,” he said.
Beck told News 2 a lot of thought was put into this legislation.
“I don’t know how they could lose their jobs. They have plenty of opportunity to get the training, and when we did this, we brought in all: the Department of Commerce and Insurance and the bars and restaurants, and many of the employees when we crafted this bill,” Beck said.
State records indicate of the six security guards charged in Dallas Barrett’s death, only two were properly licensed.
Dallas’ mother, Tammy Barrett, said that is unacceptable and why she endorses Dallas’ Law. She issued the following statement to News 2:
“Dallas’ Law was put into place to protect all persons. That includes patrons of businesses that employ security guards, as well as the guards and businesses themselves. Just as many occupations require completion of training, so should security guards. Guards that work in establishments serving alcohol in particular, need to understand they aren’t working a tea party. There will be times that a person may need to be detained, but it should be done correctly. If a person desires to be a security guard, they should be aware that there are certain costs involved and it is not something to be taken lightly. Security guards are there to protect and keep order. That must be done properly. Therefore, this training is and should be mandatory. We must be willing to go the extra mile to save lives. Businesses should want to have the most reputable and knowledgeable employees working for them to protect their patrons and business. Dallas’ Law is something that should have been in place long ago, anyway. The cost of going through this training is nominal compared to losing a life, or some other life changing injury. So if someone is having a difficult time paying for the training, I hate it for them, but I would much prefer to have someone take a little longer to come up with the funds and be properly trained, than just saying it’s ok we’ll just stick them out on the floor and then something happens and they don’t know what to do. What if someone needed CPR on their watch and because they didn’t want to or for whatever reason didn’t go through training and then that person died? That more than likely could have been avoided if they had been properly trained. In my opinion, Dallas’ Law has to stand in order to try and put the most knowledgeable employees in those positions.”