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School Security Officer (SSO) Certification Program

§ 9.1-101 A "school security officer" means an individual who is employed by the local school board or a private or religious school for the singular purpose of maintaining order and discipline, preventing crime, investigating violations of the policies of the school board or the private or religious school, and detaining students violating the law or the policies of the school board or the private or religious school on school property, school buses, or at school-sponsored events and who is responsible solely for ensuring the safety, security, and welfare of all students, faculty, staff, and visitors in the assigned school.

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  • Our school division does not have an SSO program, but we are interested in starting one. Where can I get more information?

Please contact Danielle.clark@dcjs.virginia.gov for information related to starting an SSO program!  

  • I work for a private or religious school; can we have an SSO program?

Yes! Virginia Code includes private and religious schools in the SSO program. However, private schools are not required to certify their SSOs, unless they are armed.  

  • I am certified through DCJS as a private security officer. Do I still need to take the SSO Initial Certification class?

Yes. Private security and school security are regulated under different codes and regulations, therefore there is no overlap. A private security certification license cannot be used to waive the SSO certification and training requirements.  

  • I am not employed with a school division but would like to take the Initial Certification class. Is that allowed?

The SSO Initial Certification class is only open to currently employed school division employees, or private security employees with a current contract to provide services to the school division. 

  • I am currently serving as a law enforcement officer (part time or full time), can I be an SSO?

No, a school security officer is a school board employee operating under civil law. A currently sworn law enforcement officer is an employee of a law enforcement agency operating under criminal law; therefore, there would be a conflict of interest.  

  • Can we contract with a private security company to fill vacant SSO positions within our school/school division?

A local school board or private or religious school may contract with a private security company to fill vacant positions; however, the school division Point of Contact (POC) must be a school division employee and not a member of the private security Company. The POC is responsible for submitting all required documentation to the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) on behalf of the private security company employee.  

Certified school security officers are required to obtain 16 hours of job-related training, including at least one legal topic, as ongoing professional development during their 2-year certification period. You can find all available training opportunities on the VCSCS Training Page or by searching "VCS" on your DCJS Benchmark account. At the conclusion of a training course, an SSO will receive a Certificate of Attendance that can be used towards their recertification hours.

 

Please note: DCJS does not maintain a record of the number of hours an SSO currently has while working towards their recertification. It is the responsibility of the SSO to ensure the minimum training hours have been met prior to their certification expiring.

Armed school security officer eligibility requirements can be found in Virginia Code 22.1-280.2:1. The armed SSO must meet all of the following criteria and be a certified SSO before they can carry a firearm in the performance of their duties.

 

Local school boards and private or religious schools may employ school security officers, as defined in § 9.1-101, for the purposes set forth therein. Such school security officer may carry a firearm in the performance of their duties if the SSO:  

  • Is a former law enforcement officer within 10 years from hire date with the school; 
  • Retired or resigned from their position in law-enforcement in good standing; 
  • Meets the training and qualifications standards described in subsection C of § 18.2-308.016; and
  • Provides proof of training completion in Active Shooter Emergency Response, Emergency Evacuation Procedure, and Threat Assessment; 
  • If training is provided by law enforcement, it shall be of the locality in which he is employed as an SSO. 

Additionally,  

  • Local school board or private or religious school shall solicit input from the chief law enforcement officer of the locality to ensure the SSO is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing, purchasing, or transporting a firearm. 
  • The local school board or private or religious school must grant the SSO authority to carry a firearm in the performance of his duties. 

Current law enforcement, current or former military or military police and individuals with an armed endorsement through private security or a concealed weapons permit do not satisfy the Code requirements to be an armed SSO.


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All SSO applications need to be emailed to schoolsecurity@dcjs.virginia.gov.

Danielle Clark, K-12 School Safety and Security Training Coordinator
804.877.6638
Email Danielle