Wisconsin: Unarmed Security Officers

Legislation and Details for Wisconsin


Chapter 440, Subchapter 440.26 Department of Safety and Professional Services
440.26 Private detectives, investigators and security personnel; licenses and permits.

Chapter SPS 31 Credentialing Requirements and Procedures for Private Detective Agency, Private Detective and Security Person

Authorizing Department

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services
P.O. Box 8935
Madison, Wisconsin 53708
Phone: (608) 266-2112
Email: dsps@wisconsin.gov

Official Website

Private Detective/Security Agency

Licensure and License Fees

Wisconsin primarily issues licenses to business forms- sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporate forms. The bulk of the regulatory oversight relates to the licensure of detective agencies.

However, a permit is generally required for any person who holds themselves out as a “Private Security Person”. That “person” may be an employee of a licensed agency or individually conduct business as an agency.

See: Information on Private Security Person

Either licenses and permits are generally required in the following instances:

(a)   No person may do any of the following unless he or she has a license or permit issued under this section:

1.   Advertise, solicit or engage in the business of operating a private detective agency.
2.   Act as a private detective, investigator, special investigator or private security person.
3.   Act as a supplier of private security personnel.
4.   Solicit business or perform any other type of service or investigation as a private detective or private security person.
Receive any fees or compensation for acting as any person, engaging in any business or performing any service specified in subds. 1. to 4.

See: 440.26(1)(a)

Regular Permit and Temporary Permit Only

$27.00   Initial Credential Fee
$8.00   Background Check Fee
$10.00   Temporary Permit
$34.75   Fingerprinting Fee

Temporary Permit Only
$10.00   Temporary Permit Fee
$27.00   Regular Permit Fee
$8.00   Background Check Fee

Veteran Fee Waivers Available

The administrative guidance states:
Each person who wishes to act as a Private Security Person for a Private Security Agency must submit a complete application to the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) and is not eligible to practice until receiving a permit from the DSPS. Private Security Personnel who are directly employed by businesses and industrial companies are not required to obtain a permit as a Security Person.

See: Form #2271 – Application for Private Security Permit

Age Requirements

License Applicants need to be 18 years of age.
Permit age requirements are not designated.

See: 440.26(2)(c)3


A citizen or national of the U.S., or a qualified alien or nonimmigrant lawfully present in the U.S. who is eligible to receive this professional license or credential as defined in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996, as codified in 8 U.S.C. §1601 et. Seq. (PRWORA).

See: Form #2271 – Application for Private Security Permit


While there is no explicit formula for experience, the state and its corresponding department appears to reserve the right to mandate specialized requirements in the form of training and experience as it deems necessary. This seems nothing more than a discretionary right.

The statute states in part:

The department shall prescribe, by rule, such qualifications as it deems appropriate, with due regard to investigative experience, special professional education and training and other factors bearing on professional competence.

See: 440.26(2)(c)1


There are some narrow exemption categories that tend to cross-over between the various licenses. Governmental employees working for municipalities, boroughs and other entities may make claim for an exemption at these particular places of employment. The statute notes:
(b)   The license requirements of this section do not apply to any person employed directly or indirectly by the state or by a municipality, as defined in s. 345.05 (1) (c), or to any employee of a railroad company under s. 192.47, or to any employee of a commercial establishment, while the person is acting within the scope of his or her employment and whether or not he or she is on the employer’s premise

See: 440.26(5)(b)

Permit Required

Applicants have three choices for obtaining a permit.
•   Temporary & Regular Permit: The Department can issue a temporary permit only if a check of the criminal records at the Department of Justice indicates no criminal history. If your background check is satisfactory, you will be issued a temporary permit, which will expire at the end of 30 days. Upon receipt of a satisfactory state and federal crime record search, the Department will issue you a regular permit.

•   Regular Permit Only: The Department may issue a regular permit after receiving the results of the state and federal criminal record search. If the search reveals a criminal history, the applicant may be requested to submit further information or a Notice of Denial will be sent, as appropriate.

•   Reinstatement: If you previously held a Private Security Permit and the credential has been expired more than 5 years. The applicant will need to meet the same requirements needed for a regular permit.

See: Form #2271 – Application for Private Security Permit

Requirement to carry an ID card

Private Security Persons shall carry their permit (SPS 33.025), identification tags (SPS 33.03), and agency photo identification (SPS 33.04) while on duty.

See: SPS 33 – Practice Requirements

Moral Character

No baseline requirement


Must submit fingerprints electronically for a background check. For any Wisconsin resident or out of state applicant, schedule an appointment with the Department’s approved vendor, Fieldprint, by visiting their website . Use the Fieldprint code “FPWISecurity” when prompted. The cost for the digital fingerprints will be $34.75 and is expected at the time of reservation. Plan to arrive at the test center 15 minutes before the scheduled start time of the appointment for check-in. Submit application to the Department within 14 days after submission of fingerprints.

See: Form #2271 – Application for Private Security Permit

Substance Abuse

The permit will be granted if the applicant is not a user of drugs or alcohol to an extent dangerous to the applicant or others or to an extent which would impair the applicant’s ability to responsibly perform private security activities.

See: SPS 31.02(3)(c)

Mental Health

The permit will be granted if the applicant does not have a physical, emotional or mental condition that might adversely affect the applicant’s ability to responsibly perform private security activities.

Criminal History Background Check

Background investigations and criminal histories will be conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and
Professional Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Form # 2687
Provisions set forth in Title 28, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section
16.34, state that fingerprints may be used to check the criminal history records with the FBI. Identification records
obtained from the FBI may be used solely for the purpose requested and may not be disseminated outside the receiving department, related
Agency, or other authorized entity. The Department of Safety and Professional Services does not deny a license based on the information in
the record itself, but does require the submittal of a certified copy of the criminal complaint and judgment of conviction in any matter which
would appear to be cause for denial of a license.

Authorization for Release of FBI Information (Form 2687)

Form #2252
If any applicant was ever been convicted of a felony in Wisconsin or any other state and not pardoned,
the applicant’s application will be denied. There are no exceptions.

If an applicant has been convicted of one or more misdemeanor or other violations or has pending charges,
and if the Department determines that the crimes or violations are substantially related to the practice of
a private detective, the Department will not grant a license until it has received sufficient information to
determine whether the license should be granted, denied or limited. It is the responsibility of the applicant
to provide complete information to the Department. Applications are deemed complete after submission of all
relevant background information by the applicant is received. A certified copy of the police report, criminal
complaint, and judgment of conviction is required for each conviction.

Convictions and Pending Charges (Form 2252)

Personal References


Training Requirements

No baseline requirements

Exam Requirement
Examination is only required for agency licensure.
See: SPS 31.04
Child Support

Under Wisconsin Law, the Department must deny your application if you are liable for delinquent child support.

See: Form #2271 – Application for Private Security Permit

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