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What powers if any do security staff have?

Do security staff have any powers over and above any other civilians? If for example they caught a shoplifter, and that shoplifter runs away, have they got the right to restrain them or lock them up until the police arrive? Do they have the right to search people? If someone picks a fight with them, what are they legally allowed to do?

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6 Responses to “What powers if any do security staff have?”

  1. Ted said :

    they call the cops on speedial but cant touch anyone

  2. Tom1999 said :

    They have the same rights as any other member of the public. They can perform a citizens arrest – but are then open to charges of false arrest if a crime cannot be proved.

  3. jackie m said :

    Husband is a security guard and their job is to observe and protect, they cannot search you or restrain you or lock you up, door stewards are there to prevent fights but cannot get involved.

  4. Larry said :

    The have the same powers of arrest any citizen has long as it within their employers guidelines

  5. Jason W said :

    This depends on what state you live in. In Massachusetts for example, security guards have only the right to make citizen’s arrests. Bear in mind, though, that the right of a citizen to arrest is identical in many states to the right of a peace officer to make an arrest. As a representative of the property owner, they can also eject persons from the property without arresting them (as in the case of bouncers).

    Sometimes security guards will be sworn in as special police officers by the town or city in which they work, thus giving them regular arrest powers.

    Many states also have “temporary detention” statutes which specifically allow merchants and shopkeepers (or their designated employees) to detain persons suspected of shoplifting until the police arrive. Thus, if a store security guard suspects that a person is guilty of shoplifting, they have the right to physically restrain that person (though not search them) and hold them in a back room until the police arrive, at which time the person will be arrested and searched by the police.

  6. laughter_every_day said :

    A security guard is generally seen as an agent of the owner of the property. They can do what you could do if someone came to your house and you caught them stealing your property. That authority varies by state. In general, you can use reasonable and necessary force to make an arrest, and to defend yourself, and to detain the person for the police. Some states grant a little more authority and some a little less. Some specific employers direct their security forces to never use force and some do not, but that is a matter of policy, not of law.


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