Four Things Security Officers Have Legal Authority to Do

December 2, 2021 12:16 am Published by Leave your thoughts

While the police have the authority to stop crimes and arrest perpetrators, they’re not the same as having on-call protection at your home or business. When you’re concerned about protecting your property, family or employees, a security guard agency is your best bet.

What can a security officer legally do? Whether you’re already working with a security guard agency or you’re considering it, it’s important to know what, exactly, security guards can do to protect your home or business.

Where does security officer authority come from?

Security guards might get their authority from three different sources: 1) private security officers with limited citizen powers; 2) security guards with special authority granted by local government; 3) security officers who are also law enforcement officers.

Generally, their authority comes from a mix of constitutional, tort, criminal, contract and regulatory laws. Depending on what your own security guards’ authority levels are, their legal powers may vary.

What security guards are allowed to do

Security guards are usually either employed by an agency or work in-house for a company. Even if they are also law enforcement officers, they don’t have the same legal authority that the police do when on duty.

As long as they have the powers granted by local authorities, your security guard can do the following:

  • Exercise jurisdiction over private property: If you hire a security officer without police powers, they have jurisdiction over your private property only. This allows them to tell people to stop doing prohibited acts (stealing, vandalism and more), ask them to leave and make a citizen’s arrest if the person does not comply.
  • Make citizen’s arrests: Citizen’s arrests are not like arrests by the police. The police are allowed to arrest a person if they have probable cause to believe that someone was committing or intending to commit a crime. Security guards must witness an actual felony before they can make a citizen’s arrest. They’re only allowed to detain the person (using reasonable force and restraints) until the actual police show up. They can’t send a suspect to jail or make an official arrest.
  • Search and disarm during arrest: If a security officer witnesses someone committing a felony, they have limited power to search a person and disarm them during a citizen’s arrest. (The person can consent, but they usually do not.)
  • Use reasonable force: Finally, a security guard can use reasonable force when making a citizen’s arrest or removing someone from the property. For example, shooting someone who was asked to leave property is not considered reasonable, but forcibly moving a stubborn person may be.

When you interview security guard agencies, make sure to ask them what their security guards can legally do to protect your property. You’ll quickly get an idea of whether the company knows the legal limits or is making promises that could leave your business open to liability.

Want to work with a quality security guard agency? Call Advance On-Site Protection Security to learn more about our services today.

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This post was written by ADP Security

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