Private Security

The Private Security Section is responsible for the processing, training, and licensing of all applicants for security licenses in the City of St. Louis. With the exception of St. Louis Police Officers, all persons performing a security function in the City of St. Louis must be licensed to do so through the Private Security Section.  This includes police officers from other jurisdictions who are working in the City of St. Louis.

Picture of Private Watchman Badge

Basic Licensing Requirements

  • At least 21 years of age (18 years of age for watchman category).
  • U.S. citizen or legal resident alien.
  • No felony convictions.
  • Free of any type of chemical dependency.
  • Licensing Categories

    Watchman –   A person employed without police powers and without authorization to carry weapons or protective devices.  A watchman performs the tasks of observation and reporting on or in a designated area and may include patrolling a public street.  A watchman has no powers of arrest, search or detention and must wear an approved uniform.

    Courier –  A person employed to carry out the assignment of protecting/transporting property from one designated area to another. A courier must wear an approved military style uniform. A courier has no powers of arrest, search or detention. If qualified, a courier may carry a firearm.

    Security Officer – A person employed with certain police powers to protect life or property on or in designated premises. A security officer’s powers exist only within the established property owned or leased by the contracting employer and to incidents occurring on the premises.  If qualified, a security officer may carry a firearm and certain protective devices.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Private Security

    What must I bring with me when I come to the Private Security Section to apply for a license?
    You must have a color photo ID (valid driver’s license or state-issued ID card), and a dated letter from your intended employer (no more than ten days old). Payment of licensing fees can be made by cash, company or personal checks, and most credit/debit cards.

    What type of background check is conducted when I apply for a license?
    A complete background check is conducted using your name, date of birth and fingerprints. Information obtained from local police agencies, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the FBI will be used to determine license eligibility. A felony conviction will automatically disqualify anyone from obtaining a license.

    Must I carry a security identification card while working?
    YES.  The badge/identification card issued by the Private Security Section must be worn conspicuously if working in uniform or carried on the person if working in a uniform- exempt capacity. A metallic company badge may be worn but the word “police” must not be displayed anywhere on the uniform.

    As a security officer, may I make an arrest?
    Security officers have the power to arrest and detain in incidents occurring on company property. These powers are in effect only while on duty and on the premises you are paid to protect.

    Do all security officers wear a uniform?
    NO. As determined by the employer, some security officers are licensed in a uniform-exempt capacity and are not required to wear a uniform.

    How many licenses may one person hold?
    A person may hold a license for any number of employers as long as a letter from each employer requests it and the proper fees are paid. A separate license is issued for each company.  When licensed and working for any given company, the appropriate license/ID card must be displayed on the uniform.

    How long is a license valid?
    Licensed security personnel are issued a badge/identification card which must be carried/displayed while security duties are being performed. A license is good for one year and it must be renewed annually. 

    May I work on an expired license?
    NO.  Working on an expired license or no license subjects you to arrest and booking. Companies or agencies that knowingly employ someone without a license subjects them to a fine and/or liability in a civil action.

    What are the requirements if I want to open my own contract security business?
    Generally, St. Louis City ordinance requires that persons wanting to establish their own security contract business have a minimum of two years experience in the security field, either as a licensed officer or supervisor/manager.  Requirements for establishing a company can be found in a link at the end of this section.


    Private Security

    7900 Forsyth Boulevard, B021
    St. Louis, Missouri 63105

    7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Main Office: 314-615-4272
    Fax:     314-615-5301

    Guidelines for registering a Security Agency (PDF)

    If you are interested in hiring off-duty police officers for security at an event or business, please contact the Division of Professional Standards at 444-5419.