What Authority Does a Security Guard Have?

A security guard obviously does not have the same authority as a police officer, but they are able to enforce many of the same things, depending on the particular situation and if they follow certain protocols. Security guards generally have the following powers:


The Ability to Enforce Rules

When operating on private property, whether it’s a private residence or a business, the security guard has the authority to enforce the rules the owners have made, as long as the rules themselves are not illegal.


For example, a security guard in a shopping mall will be able to enforce rules such as “no loitering” and “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” Other examples can include enforcing if the bathroom is for employees or is open to customers as well. The list goes on and on.


Granted, the enforcement of these rules has to be fair to everyone involved, and a security guard does not have the right to discriminate against someone. Everything has to be applied fairly and consistently.


If any of these general property rules are broken, the security guard can ask the person to leave the premises. Reasonable force can be used and if the person continues to resist the security guard’s instructions, the police can be called and a citizen’s arrest can be made. The person can thus be arrested and charged with trespassing.


The Use of Reasonable Force

Security guards are permitted to use reasonable force. Reasonable force can be defined as force that is not excessive or unreasonable based on the particular situation. Some of the factors that have to be considered when a security guard uses force are:


  • The severity of the crime
  • The risk of harm to both the security guard and other individuals
  • How dire the situation is


In an ideal situation, the security guard will be able to contact law enforcement and have them confront the person and attempt to make an arrest. However, that is not often possible, meaning that a security guard may have to use force. The use of force, especially deadly force, should always be the last resort. A security guard should try to communicate verbally and explore other options before resorting to the use of force, unless he or she has no other choice.


The Ability to Detain and Arrest

If a security guard apprehends someone who is attempting a robbery, who has shoplifted, or committed another serious violation, the guard has the right to detain and perform a citizen’s arrest on the person. This only applies though if the security guard has personally witnessed or has reasonable suspicion to believe that something has occurred. In addition, when detaining a person, the police have to be alerted within a reasonable period of time. Otherwise, the person can be detained unlawfully.


First Security Services’ security guards are well aware of their powers and never overstep their authority. Contact us today for a free consultation!