HONOLULU (AP) -- The state agency administering Hawaii's new security guard licensing law stayed open over the weekend to accept a flurry of last-minute applications.
The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs received 354 applications Saturday and Sunday. The new law takes effect Monday, requiring security guards to have a state-issued card. To receive the card, guards must submit an application and meet certain requirements, including eight hours of training and a background check.
The bulk of applications — 326 — were on Oahu. Agency staff members on the neighbor islands were on hand to accept the applications. Normally, they have to be mailed to Honolulu.
According to 2010 state data, there are an estimated 10,000 security guards in Hawaii. It isn't clear how the 10,000 figure is defined and might not be an accurate representation of the security guards who are affected by the new law, said DCCA spokesman Brent Suyama.
About 6,000 applications have been received so far, with 3,729 processed or waiting for review, and 2,000 pending processing, Suyama said.
"We saw just a trickle come in from January until the end of April," Suyama said. In recent weeks, more have been coming in, sometimes more than 100 per day, he said.
Those who submitted applications by Monday will be able to continue working as a guard, pending review of the application. The state is encouraging others to continue submitting applications. Otherwise, "that would be working illegally as a security guard," he said.
As guards and the state grapple with the new requirements, there has been some miscommunication that may have deterred some from applying, such as confusion about education requirements and fear about criminal histories barring applicants from being approved. Guards must have proof of high school graduation, a GED or any education equivalent. Criminal convictions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Board of Private Detectives and Guards, Suyama said.
The department's Professional and Vocational Licensing Division only has jurisdiction over agencies that provide security guards and the guards themselves. The state is still working out penalties, but they likely will entail fines, Suyama said. Investigations into noncompliance will be spurred by a complaint.
"In the beginning, we're going to be a bit more understanding," he said. "It's more of an education process in the beginning."
Jennifer Sinco Kelleher can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jenhapa .