Security guard using portable radio transmitter

The Difference Between Security Guards and Police Officers

October 28, 2021 5:36 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Both often wear a badge. Both are usually in a uniform that denotes a position of authority. And both are tasked with keeping the peace. But while there may be many similarities between a security guard and a police officer, there are also some significant differences you should know about.

Here are some ways in which a security guard and a police officer are different.

Duties and responsibilities

The main difference between someone who works for a guard agency and someone who works for a police department are the responsibilities and powers assigned to them. You may already be aware that police officers have certain powers granted to them to protect the public and enforce the law. This authority requires extensive training to be completed before it is granted and comes with a lot of responsibility.

Security guards do not require as much training and do not have as much responsibility. While police officers are tasked with protecting the public at large, a security guard is tasked with protecting the interests of their client. They are not public servants but private security with a specific job detail.


The power given to a security guard is regarded as “agent of the owner.” This is defined in the guard agency’s contract with the client who hires them. There are some aspects of this agreement that limit their powers compared to those of the police, but there are also some aspects that grant them extended authority.

For example, private security guards have the power to question without a probable cause, as they are tasked with protecting a private space rather than a public space. This is technically not a power granted to police officers. Private security guards have a responsibility to keep the private property and people on it safe from criminal, emergency or natural hazards.

Police officers, on the other hand, are tasked with protecting the public at large. This includes enforcement of all laws on the books as well as keeping people safe from harm.

While most police officers have the authority, training and permits required to carry a firearm, not all security guards have or need this distinction. Special training and proper licensing is required for a private security guard to carry a firearm.

Guard/officer combo

It is possible to hold jobs as both a police officer and a security guard. Some guard agencies have security guard positions that benefit from this type of experience and will specifically seek out police officers to work for the agency in their off time. Of course, while officers are on the clock for their department, they should not be doubling as a private security guard.

That’s not to say that their duty to protect the public goes away, however, when they are off the clock from the department. They are still obligated to enforce the law and protect the public in the absence of any on-duty officers in the area, though the specific details of this may vary between states.

For more information on the difference between security guards and police officers, or to get an application to start or continue your career in private security, contact Advance On-Site Protection Security today.

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This post was written by ADP Security

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