Looking back at the History of Security Guards, to see how far we have come!



The idea of armed and unarmed security guards is an ancient concept, and you can traced back as far as any time where there were individuals who would watch over another group in order to promote peace and safety.

Within the United States, the origins can be directly traced back to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency founded in 1850. This quickly became one of the country’s most valued crime fighting and prevention organizations during a lawless time in our history.

Just as today, many industries then relied on security services to safeguard their property and assets. The railroad companies and their employees in particular relied on the Pinkertons and other security agencies to protect cargo.

No to mention the passengers and their personal effects needed to be protected too!

Security guards weren’t just private police; they investigated crimes, guarded banks, and acted as bodyguards to anyone who required their protection.

Regulation of the security industry was fully enforced in 1915, when California began issuing licenses and passing regulatory laws under the Administration of the State Board of Prison Directors.

The regulation was the beginning of a new era of lawful actions, appropriate aggression, and community service.


For many years, following the creation of the Pinkerton’s, security guards or their equivalent would always be armed. The equipment they used was mostly just durable leather or heavy clothing, depending on the environment.

Wooden batons were the only non-lethal options available, and were unanimous amongst police and private security. The police and security of the time even sometimes wore top hats or other flamboyant headwear!

 modern times, security guards have access to a wealth of equipment. AGS officers keep pace with California police in terms of the clothing and utility belts we use.

Security armed guards often have to adhere to client specifications, but most commonly use firearms chambered in 9mm, .45 ACP, or.38 special ammunition.

The only hold-over from older generations like the Pinkertons is the Sam-Browne holster/belt, which in recent years has been all but phased out within the security services industry. 

A huge improvement in technology of course comes in the form of reporting capabilities. Gone are the handwritten notes, instead giving way to software like the one we use; AGSTrac. Daily reports are all digital, instantly accessible by the client, along with advanced analysis to better protect your business.


Security guards today are much more regulated than those of the past, to the benefits of both clients and community. Accountability is key, and starts with ensuring that all private security firms in California employ only unarmed or armed guards who have obtained a license from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS).

All security personnel needs to undergo a thorough background check, as well as training for different certifications and knowledge/competency levels before they receive full accreditation as a security guard.

Modern security guards are certified in CPR, they are trained in Emergency response and evacuations, and understand their legal powers to arrest and detain better than at any time in history.

This increased knowledge comes with increased responsibility for AGS to wield our authority as a private security services firm as a force of good.

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