The Law and Private Security

The Law and Private Security

March 03, 2015 - PSPA Editorial Staff

A Must Read for all Security Personnel

Laws governing the conduct of private security officers are derived from several sources: tort law, state statues, criminal law, and State and U.S. Constitutional law.

Many of the restrictions on private security officers come from the tort law of each state. Tort law defines a citizen’s responsibilities to each other and provides for relief to recover damages for injury caused by another's failing to carry out these responsibilities. Public officers, including but not limited to, police, sheriffs, constables, marshals, and rangers, are trained in the latest case-law that affects the ways in which they carry out their jobs. Private Officers, i.e. security officers, may or may not be as well versed in these same laws. With the changing landscape of tort decisions, keeping current on the law that regulates the industry in which you serve (Police or Security) is very important, as the consequences of transgressions (wrongdoings) are the same for both.

Knowledge of the law as it pertains to employment within the security industry must be understood prior to starting to work in the industry, particularly when employed as a uniformed, security officer. Regulations governing security officer services, armed and unarmed, can vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Because private security officers wear uniforms, often carry weapons and have been placed in a position of authority by their employers, private security officers may appear to have more legal authority than private citizens. This is not always the case. Private security officers usually have no more powers than private citizens. As citizens, security officers have a limited power to arrest; to investigate, to carry weapons, to defend themselves and to defend their own property or the property of others entrusted to their care.

With this said, PSPA promotes “Personal Responsibility” in all that we do. Understanding and following all occupational prerequisites including, but not limited to, laws, rules, regulations, licensing, training and proficiency requirements must be strictly adhered to. Occupational prerequisites, including, application, renewal and/or re-certification, must be strictly managed. Working as a private security professional with invalid or expired occupational credentials/licenses/permits is unacceptable and in many jurisdictions considered a violation of the law.

To that end, it is the responsibility of the individual security officer to understand his/her profession as well as all laws governing the profession in the area (city, state and/or jurisdiction) in which employment is sought.