The demand for private security guards is climbing and even surpassing that of law enforcement. More than 1 million security guards were employed as of May 2016. In contrast, only 120,000 law enforcements officers were employed full-time. However, private security guards do not have the same rights and obligations as law enforcers do.
Security guards may be in uniform, but they are not public servants. They cannot read Miranda rights, and they operate as private citizens. This makes it necessary to understand their legal limitations and, at times, to involve the local police. Here are some times when security guards should definitely call local law enforcement
It’s important to ensure that any and all arrests made are legal. The arrest must be reasonable, and the security guard must have a probable cause to arrest an individual, such as witnessing shoplifting. For this reason, it’s often recommended that security guards only make arrests when they are felonies, as opposed to misdemeanors. If your guard is wrong, it’s possible that you will be sued and/or face accusations of false arrest.
When an Arrest Is Out of the Guard’s Jurisdiction
Private security guards are usually hired to protect private property. The private property that a guard patrol protects generally dictates the jurisdiction of the patrol unit. Preventing any crime from happening outside of that area is not the security guard’s legal obligation. On the other hand, law enforcement would be able to conduct arrests and pursue intruders that are located around the property. For example, if an intruder trespasses, commits a crime and then flees the scene, the security guard should contact the police. The police can then intervene to protect the safety of the guards and the community.