The Responsibilities of the Security Officer
As a registered or commissioned security officer, you have certain responsibilities to the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau. In order to prevent possible denial or revocation of your registration, it is important that you be aware of the following:
Your Noncommissioned Security Officer registration is valid for a two-year period.
Power to Arrest
The Role and Responsibilities of the Security Officer
It is important to remember:
How are security officers different from peace officers?
Security officers do not have:
What happens when a security officer pretends to be a peace officer?
Any security officer who pretends or even implies [lets others think] that he is a peace officer is committing a crime. The Penal Code, in Section 37.11 makes it an offense to falsely identify yourself as a peace officer (public servant). A person who is found guilty of impersonating a peace officer could be punished by a fine or county jail sentence, or both.
What are a security officer’s roles and responsibilities?
How should security officers perform their job?
The major responsibility of a security officer is prevention before an incident/offense occurs. Thus, a security officer should be highly visible. By being seen, the officer may discourage anyone who might be considering theft, damage, or personal injury. A security officer’s job is prevention.
To do this job well, the security officer must-
+ be alert + listen + watch
What is the sign that a security officer is doing a good job?
The absence of incidents/crimes is one sign that a security officer is doing a good job.
What should a security officer do if an incident does occur?
If an offense does occur, an officer does not charge. Instead the security officer should:
Areas of Responsibility
What is a Security Officer’s job?
A security officer is assigned to protect specific people and property. This may include detecting some of the same offenses that would cause a peace officer to act, such as a fight or burglary. However, it would not include other offenses such as vehicle violations or prostitution.
For example, if you were on duty at a plant gate and you saw two teenagers having an auto race down a public road, you would not try to arrest them. You may decide to report it to the police if a telephone is nearby. Remember, you were hired to protect the plant - not to arrest speeders. [In fact you should be suspicious of any activity that may draw you away from your post. It could be a plan to draw your attention away from your duties.]
What is a Peace Officer’s job?
Peace officers are law enforcement officers such as Sheriffs and their Deputies, Constables, Marshalls, members of a city police force and other officers whose duty is to enforce the law and preserve the public peace. If a law is violated, peace officers are required to pursue and apprehend the person responsible. This is not required or expected of a security officer!
Remember, a peace officer’s responsibilities are different from a security officer’s responsibilities.
Security Officers only protect specific people and property.
Police [Peace Officer] protect people and property, and enforce laws.
What other duties could a Security Officer have?
A security officer may be responsible for maintaining certain company rules. These could include:
Prevention is the Key
The security officer’s concern is to protect persons and prevent damage or destruction to property. Prevention is the key word.
For example, if you spotted some young people trying to climb a fence to private property you could shout at them or turn on the lights. Do anything lawful that would discourage their trespassing: don’t wait until they cross the fence so that you can confront them.
Another typical situation might be: A person intends to steal from a store but sees a uniformed officer on patrol. The person leaves the store without stealing anything. The officer, simply by being there in uniform, has prevented a crime.
Observe and Report! Observe and Report! Observe and Report! Observe and Report!
If you can’t prevent an incident, the proper action is to observe and report. You should:
Situation Security Officer's Role:
Before the incident - Prevention
During or After the incident - Observe and Report
If a serious offense, such as a robbery, burglary, or assault with a deadly weapon, has been committed, you may need to apprehend the suspect.
Call the Police immediately. Even police who are trained to make forcible arrests are encouraged to call for help in a dangerous situation.
You are patrolling the grounds of a factory at 2:00 a.m... and see two armed adults entering the stock room. What should you do?
[You should call the police, then observe and report.]
While you are guarding a sporting goods store, a man runs out of the store. Ten seconds later, the owner runs to you and says there has been a robbery. What should you do?
[Have the owner call the police, then observe and report.]
You are patrolling a store parking lot. A shopper loads Christmas gifts into a station wagon and goes back to do some more shopping. The windows of the wagon are open, and three boys are gathered around the station wagon looking in. What should you do?
[You should try to prevent a possible theft by making your presence known.]
You are on guard in a jewelry store. An employee showing diamond rings to a customer is called to the telephone. The customer is left alone with the display box of diamond rings. What should you do?
[You should try to discourage a theft by making your presence known.]
Relations with Local Police
Your job is made easier if you have a good working relationship with the local police.
Never play “cop”. You don’t have the training for it and you don’t have the legal authority to do the same things a peace officer can do. Also, playing “cop” will antagonize the local law enforcement and hurt your company’s working relations.
Don’t mislead people. Because of your uniform, badge, hat or gear, some people may think you are a peace officer. Don’t do anything to encourage this false idea. Whenever the opportunity arises, make it a point to let them know that you are not a peace officer, but a security officer.
During an emergency. You may not interfere with peace officers who are on the scene of an incident at your client or employer. You must cooperate with these peace officers or be subject to arrest. Your role remains the protection of the clients or employer’s assets; that is their people, property, information and time.
Your roles are different! A peace officer is charged with the enforcement of laws. A security officer is responsible for protecting specific people or property; his customers or employers.
Observation and Report Writing
Stop! Look! Listen! In a sense security officers are paid observers. As a security officer your job is Prevention. When an offense has been committed, it is your responsibility to Observe and Report. You may be required to:
Facts vs. Conclusions. You will need to know the difference between a fact and a conclusion.
Peace officers and employers are interested only in the facts. With proper facts, they can reach their own conclusions. For example:
Fact: As I came around the corner, I saw two men kneeling at the door. One was holding a crow bar. The door had markings around the lock.
Conclusion: The men are burglars.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect! It will take practice to become a good Observer and to be able to Report facts instead of conclusions.
When you write a report, remember to include these six facts:
As these apply to the victim, the perpetrator, the witnesses, and the evidence.
Authority to Question and A Basis for Making Decisions
A security officer's authority to question people.
A security officer is an agent of the property owner and in this role can exercise the owner’s right to question people on the owner’s property. If they refuse to answer the questions, or if their answers are not satisfactory, the officer may ask them to leave. If they do not leave, the officer may contact the police and report them for criminal trespassing.
Remember, in general your authority is no greater than any other private person’s. On the other hand, you have authority to question people while on the property of a client where you are on duty as a security officer.
What are the property owner’s right’s?
The owner has the right to establish certain rules on his property that may not be part of the Penal Code. For instance, if an employee shows up for work drunk, he may be violating a company rule. The client may want the employee sent home or may want to fire him. How this situation is handled is between the employee and his employer and has nothing to do with the police or criminal law. A security officer must know company policies!
Do not confuse company policy with criminal law.
For example, if the employee refuses to leave when asked, he may be arrested by the police for trespassing. On the other hand, if the security officer uses unnecessary force in removing the employee from the premises, the officer may be arrested for assault.
How should you handle violations?
As a security officer, acting as a representative of the owner on his private property, you can physically prevent a person from entering an area--but only as a last resort. Be sure to check with your employer regarding the way to handle a violation of company rules as well as how to handle a violation of criminal law.
A basis for making decisions:
The very nature of security work requires security personnel to be constantly aware of their surrounding, the law, and the mission of private security.
Three factors to consider when making timely and reasonable decisions are:
Who? What? When? Where ? Why? and possibly How?
The Security Officer’s Legal Responsibilities and Liabilities
Actions based on poor judgment can lead to legal problems for both you and your employer. You must, by law, avoid certain actions. The legal responsibilities and liabilities that affect you are presented in this section.
Who has the Power to Arrest?
The authority to arrest is given to all private persons. A security officer arrests with the same power as any other private person. However, because the security officer wears a badge and a uniform, that can lead to misunderstanding and abuse.
Article 14.01 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states the conditions that allow a private person to make an arrest. Article 14.01 “Offense within view” A peace officer or any other person, may, without a warrant , arrest an offender when their offense is committed in his presence or within his view, if the offense is one classed as a felony or as an offense against the public peace.
What is an arrest?
Article 15.22 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that: A person is arrested when he has been actually placed under restraint or taken into custody by an officer or person executing a warrant of arrest, or by an officer or person arresting without a warrant.
In simple terms an arrest is a form of lawful control by one person over the actions of another. An arrest, in Texas law, is “The apprehension or detention of another in order that he may be forthcoming to answer for an alleged or supposed crimes .” An arrest may be made by a peace officer or private citizen. To deprive someone of their liberty or freedom of movement may be viewed as an arrest.
If you, by communication or other means make a person feel that they are not free to go then you have arrested them.
Frisk for safety
If you are legally detaining a person you have the right to conduct a “frisk” of that person for your safety. Remember that you must be able to justify the “frisk” of that person as it relates to your safety. A “frisk” is defined as a “pat-down” search of a suspect designed to discover weapons, not to recover contraband. A frisk is not a full scale search of the person.
What is criminal liability?
Crimes are generally defined in the penal statutes of a state, or in the ordinances of local cities or counties. All persons are expected to know and obey these laws. Anyone who violates a criminal law is subject to a fine and or a term in jail or prison. The potential for punishment as a result of violating a criminal law is called Criminal Liability.
Some acts by security officers for which criminal liability is possible include:
The arresting party may be held criminally and civilly liable. An example of excessive force is the shooting of a suspect in order to protect personal property; deadly force is allowed only to protect lives.
Possession of prohibited weapons
Receiving a security officer commission does not entitle you to carry another weapon other than a firearm.
False Arrest: (unlawful restraint)
A private person making an arrest may be found criminally liable if the offense did not happen within their presence or view and the offense was neither a felony nor a misdemeanor against the public peace. If you arrest a person it did not meet the above criteria you could be charged with the criminal offense of Unlawful Restraint PC 20.02) which is punishable by fine and or jail or prison time or both.
Everyone has a Civil Liability.
The legal term “party” can be a person, company, or organization.
When one party believes it has been injured, damaged, or wronged by another party, it may make lawful claim for damages.
The claim or Law Suit is presented to a civil court where both parties may explain their position to a judge or jury.
A court judge may decide whether or not one party in a law suit has damaged another.
If damages are due, the court will decide, after a trial, how much money must be paid by one party to another.
The responsibility for the things we do, or fail to do, with the possibility of being sued is called Civil Liability.
Why is your employer also responsible for your actions?
As a security officer, you are a representative of your employer. Therefore, any negligent or wrongful acts committed by you may also cause your employer and the client to be held responsible. Suits may be brought against you [ the security officer ] your employer, and/or a client.
A security officer makes a false arrest. The person arrested may file a civil suit for damages against the officer, his employer, and anyone else he believes to be responsible.
Even if the civil suit fails, the action may be costly to you and your employer.
When should a security officer arrest ?
A security officer who is expected to make arrest should receive instructions and the training on how to do so. Training should make the circumstances under which an arrest can be made and the procedure for making them.
As a security officer, you should work primarily in a preventive role. Use good judgment and exercise caution when faced with an arrest situation.
Every person is accountable for his actions. Acts of a security officer in an arrest situation are easy to defend when good judgment and good faith have been used. A security officer must not be afraid to execute an arrest, but must use restraint and good judgment.
Factors to Consider Before Making an Arrest
Are security officers required to make arrests?
At no time are you, as a security officer, obligated to make an arrest! You may be right at the scene when a violation occurs, but you do not have to make an arrest.
What are your primary responsibilities ?
Your first responsibility is protection/prevention. After a crime has been committed, your responsibility is to observe and report.
The purpose of this training is not to encourage you to make more arrests, but to teach you the law concerning arrest, so you will know what you can and can not do under the law.
What factors should you consider?
In addition to the law, there are other important factors you should consider before making an arrest. Here are a few:
What are the categories of apprehensible offenses?
The Penal Code defines criminal offenses. This program will not attempt to cover all of them, but it will cover many of the most common ones. The Penal Code classifies crimes into two categories: Misdemeanors, and Felonies.
Misdemeanors are offenses that are punishable by; a fine and/or term in the county jail. The following two conditions must exist in order for you to arrest a person on a misdemeanor charge:
The following are common examples and are found in Section 42.01 “Disorderly conduct” in the Texas Penal Code:
Other Examples of Misdemeanors against the public peace
Assault if a person intentionally knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another or threatens another with imminent bodily injury.
The act of exposing the persons anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person and is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed
Entering the property of another without permission; refusing to leave when asked. The offense may be aggravated if property is destroyed or damaged.
Criminal maliciously defacing, damaging, or destroying property.
A felony is a more serious offense than a misdemeanor and is punishable by confinement in a penitentiary to a maximum of Death.
The following condition must exist in order to arrest a person on a felony charge:
The felony must have been committed within your presence or view!
The following are common felonies: [ PC stands for Penal Code ]
Other Statutes that allow arrests or detainment by security officers
Security officers working in “retail” assignments MAY use the above statue to arrest or detain suspects. It is important to remember that the offender must be taken to a police officer or a magistrate.
It important to comply with company policy with regards to arrest or detainment of any person to avoid civil and criminal liability for you and the company.
Private Person’s Arrest
Although your normal responsibilities include protection, prevention, observation and reporting, there may be rare occasions when you consider it necessary to arrest. Every company in the private security industry has different policies about when and if you should arrest. If you do not know your company’s policies, find out and follow them!
A security officer’s legal powers to arrest are the same as any private citizen and no greater. An arrest made by such a private party is commonly known as a “citizen's arrest.”
Texas Criminal Procedure - Code and Rules, specifies the conditions under which you, a private citizen, may make an arrest. A private person may arrest another person without warrant when:
The offense is committed within his / her presence or view; and the offense is either:
In making your decision to arrest someone, you must first determine whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor.
Example of a Misdemeanor Offense:
If you saw a person pointing a firearm at a crowd, you could arrest him. He has committed a misdemeanor against the public peace and it happened in your presence or view.
On the other hand, consider this case:
A woman comes running up to you yelling that a man just pointed a gun at her and she wants you to arrest him. You can not make an arrest because this did not happen in your presence or view.
According to our legal system, a person is innocent until proven guilty. It is up to the courts to determine if a person is guilty, not the police. When a person is arrested, he is called a suspect. He is then considered a suspect until the court finds him guilty or innocent. Therefore, do not refer to an arrested person as the criminal, offender, robber, murderer, burglar, or by any other term which implies guilt. You can say he, she, they, this person, or the suspect since none of these terms implies guilt.
Making an Arrest:
If you should happen to be in a situation where an arrest is called for, you must tell the person he is under arrest, the charges, and by what authority you act. Once you effect the arrest [i.e. deprive him of his liberty or freedom of movement] you can not discharge him from it; only a magistrate can do that. If he resists, you must then decide if reasonable force is necessary. You may ask as many persons as you think necessary to help you make this arrest. Remember you cannot force any person to help you.
Use of Force in an Arrest - Article 15.24 [ T.C.C.P. ]
If the suspect resists, you are permitted to use no greater force than is necessary to effect his detention and arrest. A judge or jury will have the final say as to whether or not you acted reasonably.
What is excessive force?
Examples of excessive force include knocking unconscious an unarmed suspect when he is only trying to leave the scene. Handcuffs may be used on persons who have resisted or on suspects you think may be trying to escape or resist.
What is detainment?
A person who voluntarily responds to questioning and is not actually restrained [i.e. free to go at any time] is considered to be detained. A person may be detained by the police for further questioning in an investigation, and that person is not necessarily under arrest. While the police may do this, a private citizen [including a security officer] cannot unless he is investigating probable theft and then the detention must only be for a reasonable period of time.
When is a suspect considered to be under arrest?
It should be clear to the suspect that he is under arrest after you have communicated your intent to arrest him and effect a detention that is actual or constructive. However, there are also other actions that may make a suspect feel he is under arrest. If, because of your uniform, badge, hat, or words the suspect concludes he must answer your questions or is not free to walk away, he may justifiably claim he was arrested.
What is the right way to approach suspects?
Guilt by association is not a lawful way to make an arrest. Let’s look at an example.
It’s 11:00 p.m. and, while making his rounds, a security officer finds a gate open. There are pry marks on the chain. About 50 yards from the gate is an old pickup truck parked by the side of the road. The hood is up and two men are bent over the engine. The officer walks over and says, “All right, you guys, what are you doing here?” “One the men responds, What’s it to you pal?” The officer answers angrily, “Look, you better tell me what you’re doing here or you’re in trouble!” One of the men gets in the truck and tries to start it. The officer then asks “Didn’t you hear what I said?” The other man says “Leave us alone.” The officer moves to the front of the truck and grabs the man’s arm, stating, “You guys aren't going anywhere until you answer a few questions.”
Finding the gate open with pry marks does not necessarily mean there has been a crime. Next, there is nothing to tie the two men in the truck to any alleged crime. Furthermore, the security officer can not demand the men answer this questions. By his action the officer could well have caused the men to believe they were under arrest, particularly when the officer assaulted the man by grabbing his arm.
What should the security officer have done?
First, he should take complete notes to include descriptions of, the condition of the gate, the license of the truck, as well as descriptions of the two men. Next, he should lock the gate and report the incident to his supervisor. If he can approach the two men without leaving his post unprotected he should do so in a friendly manner. An accusatory approach seldom gets good results.
A Better Approach
Remember you are seeking the information they have; its your responsibility to get them to talk to you and that does not happen when you are hostile. Most people have a difficult time refusing a request for help. Let’s try this approach!
“Hi! Got car troubles?” One of the men replies, “Yeah! This darn thing shorts out every once in a while.” The officer then says “I need some help. I found a gate open a few minutes ago, have you seen anybody around the gate?” The men reply, “No we haven’t seen anyone but you.” The officer asks “How long you guys been broke down?” “Oh maybe five minutes.” “Well thanks for your help. If you need to call for road service I can make the call for you.” “Thanks anyway but we’ll get it going.” The officer then walks away.
The security officer may not have gotten much information, but at least he had a chance to observe each man closely and check their activities without running the risk of bad public relations or a false arrest suit.
After the Arrest
Article 18.16 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure - states that "all persons have the right to prevent the consequences of theft by seizing any personal property which has been stolen and bringing it and the supposed offender before a peace officer or magistrate. There must be reasonable grounds to suppose the property to be stolen and the seizure must be openly made and the proceedings must be made without delay."
A person commits theft if he unlawfully appropriates [takes for his own use], property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property of its use or value.
Remember, except for a reasonable period of time to investigate probable theft, you can not detain someone against his or her will other than in an arrest situation. There is no fixed amount of time that is known, for sure, as reasonable.
What should a security officer do after an arrest?
After you arrest someone you must turn him over to the police without delay. You should write down the time you made the arrest and the time you called the police. If you delay too long in calling the police, you may be guilty of an illegal detention even though you spent the time questioning the subject.
What is reasonable delay?
Texas law does not define reasonable. Reasonable delays, however, are usually acceptable. For example, if you had to walk a half-mile to get to the nearest phone or wait at your post for your partner to relieve you, these would be considered reasonable delays. However, if a phone is handy and you wait an hour before calling, this could be considered an unreasonable delay.
What is the peace officer's responsibility?
If you have made a legal arrest, the police, by law must take custody of the suspect. Custody means “to take charge of.” If the suspect is charged with a serious offense, the police will probably take him down to the station, take fingerprints and make a photo identification. They might not release the suspect unless bail is posted. Taking custody of suspects charged with less serious offenses may not involve going to the station. The police may choose simply to cite and release the suspect pending a hearing. This is also considered “taking into custody.”
The police will take down a statement of what happened, so you should take care to observe as many details as possible. The police will also investigate to collect evidence. You may be asked to testify at the trial.
Private person’s arrest - Misdemeanor
You cannot arrest a suspect for a misdemeanor unless it happens in your presence or view and it is against the public peace.
14.01 [ T.C.C.P.] If you arrest a suspect, you must deliver them to a peace officer or magistrate. When they arrive, turn the suspect over to them and make your statement.
Other things you will be expected to do if you make a misdemeanor arrest include:
This is the end of the study manual.