State investigates after felon gets guard license

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The state superintendent who oversees the process of granting licenses to everyone from physical therapists to nail technicians is now launching an internal investigation, after a board granted a convicted felon a state security guard license. That felon now has another violent charge on his record, kidnapping.

Under state law, people that want to become security guards can’t have any felony convictions no matter how long ago they happened. State-licensed security guard Bryce Harper, a convicted felon, was arrested this week. He was accused of pulling a woman into a vacant apartment at Villa Hermosa apartments, where he worked as a guard, and forcing her to touch him.

Now, harper has another felony charge, kidnapping with great bodily harm, to add to a long list of felony arrests and convictions for fraud, burglary, forgery, and a weapons charge. But state law is clear, if you want to be a security guard, you can’t have any felony convictions.

Under the section for security guards, it doesn’t list any exceptions. News 13 pressed the state’s regulation and licensing division for answers.

“One of the questions I’ve been looking at as I’ve been doing an internal investigation is, how did we license this guy?” Superintendent Mike Unthank told News 13.

It turns out, the board in charge of granting licenses for guards was playing by their own rules, adopting a “principle” that said after 10 years, they’d consider felons for licenses. But in the process, they may have broken state law.

The board in question is the Private Investigations Advisory Board, currently made up of four people who issue licenses to investigators, guards, private patrol and polygraphers.

Superintendent Mike Unthank says he’s not satisfied with the answers he’s received from staffers.

“I would even want to know, how did they go about adopting it? Did they have legal advice?” said Unthank.

Where the board came up with that exception for security guards, is not clear. It’s not written in state or federal law and the new policy isn’t even in writing. There’s a federal rule about felony convictions that applies a 10-year rule to certain circumstances in criminal trials, but not employment.

Staffers are also telling the Superintendent that they can license felons under the state’s Criminal Offender Employment Act. The act says felonies don’t have to be held against job-seekers after three years, but it only applies if the conviction doesn’t relate to their profession and it doesn’t apply to law enforcement at all.

Under state law, security guards are classified under statutes for “Private Law Enforcement Practitioners.”

Unthank says he’s going to get to the bottom of this and that the state has now suspended Harper’s license.

News 13 wanted to ask United Security, the company that hired Harper, if they also ran a background check on him. They declined to comment except to say Harper has been fired.

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