-: Mar 18, 2019 / Nick K

What Are the Legal Limitations on What a Security Guard Can Do?

Security guards play an important role in society. They provide asset protection, personal protection, safety enhancement, and a variety of other services. While security guards don’t have the same level of authority as police, they can still perform some of the same functions. The following guide, brought to you by the experts from Security Consulting Group, a premier Chatsworth security provider, explores what security guards can legally do in the course of their jobs.

Security Guards Versus Off-Duty Police Officer

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a regular security guard and an off-duty police officer. While regular security guards have leeway when it comes to many things, they can’t do as much as off-duty police officers. 

Businesses often hire off-duty police officers as security guards. Even if a police officer is off duty, he or she can still perform all the functions of the job. If a police officer is serving as a security guard, he or she has the legal right to use force, conduct arrests, and more. However, some police departments don’t allow their officers to moonlight in other jobs. If a police department does allow its officers to perform off-duty work, the hourly rate for these services can be several times higher than a basic security guard.

Use of Force and Power to Detain

Basic security guards are likely to experience legal problems if they attempt to use force against members of the public. Unless a security guard feels his or her life is in danger, he or she can’t use force against an individual. In most cases, a security guard can’t detain an individual either. However, there are some exceptions. 

In the United States, many areas have a law called shopkeeper’s privilege. Under shopkeeper’s privilege, a security guard is allowed to detain a shoplifting suspect for a short time. If the security guard is able to find evidence of shoplifting, he or she can detain the subject until the police arrive. However, security guards can’t use excessive force in these situations. If the suspect is injured, the security guard may face civil liability.

Excessive Force and Use of Weapons

Excessive force may include direct punches, pepper spray, taser use, or the use of a firearm. These types of force can result in civil action against a business or organization. While they can be used for self-defense, they should only be used as a last resort. While a regular police officer may be able to tase a suspect for being noncompliant, a security guard can’t tase someone for the same reason. 

Some security guards do carry firearms. However, this varies significantly based on jurisdiction. In many cases, security guards working for financial institutions carry firearms. However, they’re more likely to face legal problems and potential criminal charges for the use of force, and they must be very careful when making the decision to use a weapon.

If you’re planning to hire security for your business, it’s important to understand what the guards you hire are legally allowed to do to protect your employees, customers, and property. When they need the finest in security guard services, Chatsworth business owners rely on the experienced professionals from Security Consulting Group. Give us a call today at 818-462-3080.

Posted in: Security Guard Company