Security guard

Security guard
Security guard
Private factory guard.jpg
Private factory guard
Activity sectors Security

A security guard (or security officer) is a person who is paid to protect property, assets, or people. Security guards are usually privately and formally employed personnel. Often, security officers are uniformed and act to protect property by maintaining a high visibility presence to deter illegal and inappropriate actions, observing (either directly, through patrols, or by watching alarm systems or video cameras) for signs of crime, fire or disorder; then taking action and reporting any incidents to their client and emergency services as appropriate.

Until recently, the term watchman was more commonly applied to this function, a usage dating back to at least the Middle Ages in Europe. This term was carried over to North America where it was interchangeable with night-watchman until both terms were replaced with the modern security-based titles. Security guards are sometimes regarded as fulfilling a private policing function.


Functions and duties

Many security firms and proprietary security departments practice the "detect, deter, observe and report" methodology. Security officers are not required to make arrests, but have the authority to make a citizen's arrest, or otherwise act as an agent of law enforcement, for example, at the request of a police officer or sheriff.

A private security officer's primary duty is the prevention and deterrence of crime. Security personnel enforce company rules and can act to protect lives and property, and they often have a contractual obligation to provide these actions. In addition to basic deterrence, security officers are often trained to perform specialized tasks such as arrest and control (including handcuffing and restraints), operate emergency equipment, perform first aid, CPR, take accurate notes, write detailed reports, and perform other tasks as required by the contractee they are serving.

Many security officers are required to go through additional training mandated by the state for the carrying of weapons such as batons, firearms, and pepper spray (e.g. the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services [1] in California has requirements that a license for each item listed must be carried while on duty).[1] Some officers are required to complete police certification for special duties.

The number of jobs is expected to grow in the U.S., with 175,000 new security jobs expected before 2016.[2] In recent years, due to elevated threats of terrorism, most security officers are required to have bomb-threat training and/or emergency crisis training, especially those located in soft target areas such as shopping malls, schools, and any other area where the general public congregate.

One major economic justification for security personnel is that insurance companies (particularly fire insurance carriers) will give substantial rate discounts to sites which have a 24-hour presence. For a high risk or high value property, the discount can often exceed the money being spent on its security program. Discounts are offered because having security on site increases the odds that any fire will be noticed and reported to the local fire department before a total loss occurs. Also, the presence of security personnel (particularly in combination with effective security procedures) tends to diminish "shrinkage," theft, employee misconduct and safety rule violations, property damage, or even sabotage. Many casinos hire security guards to protect money when transferring it from the casino to the casino's bank.

Security personnel may also perform access control at building entrances and vehicle gates; meaning, they ensure that employees and visitors display proper passes or identification before entering the facility. Security officers are often called upon to respond to minor emergencies (lost persons, lockouts, dead vehicle batteries, etc.) and to assist in serious emergencies by guiding emergency responders to the scene of the incident, helping to redirect foot traffic to safe locations, and by documenting what happened on an incident report.

Armed security officers are frequently contracted to respond as law enforcement until a given situation at a client location is under control and/or public authorities arrive on the scene.

Patrolling is usually a large part of a security officer's duties. Often these patrols are logged by use of a guard tour patrol system, which require regular patrols. Until recently the most commonly used form used to be mechanical clock systems that required a key for manual punching of a number to a strip of paper inside with the time pre-printed on it. But recently, electronic systems have risen in popularity due to their light weight, ease of use, and downloadable logging capabilities.[3] Regular patrols are, however, becoming less accepted as an industry standard, as it provides predictability for the would-be criminal, as well as monotony for the security officer on duty. Random patrols are easily programmed into electronic systems, allowing greater freedom of movement and unpredictability. Global positioning systems are beginning to be used because they are a more effective means of tracking officer's movements and behavior.


Although security officers differ greatly from police officers, military personnel, federal agents/officers, and the like, Australia and the United States have a growing proportion of security personnel that have former police or military experience, including senior management personnel. On the other hand, some security officers, young people in particular, use the job as practical experience to use in applying to law enforcement agencies.

Types of security personnel and companies

Security personnel are classified as either of the following

  • "In-house" or "proprietary" (i.e. employed by the same company or organization they protect, such as a mall, theme park, or casino); formerly often called works police or security police in the United Kingdom.
  • "Contract," working for a private security company which protects many locations.
  • "Public Security," "Private Police Officers," or "Special Police."
  • "Private Patrol Officers", vehicle patrol officers that protect multiple client premises.
  • "Parapolice", aggressive firms that routinely engage in criminal investigation and arrests.[4]

Industry terms for security personnel include: security guard, security officer, security agent, safety patrol, private police, company police, security enforcement officer, and public safety. Terms for specialized jobs include bouncer, bodyguards, executive protection agent, loss prevention, alarm responder, hospital security officer, mall security officer, crime prevention officer,patrolman, private patrol officer, and private patrol operator.

Cash transport van with a crew of security guards in Guangzhou, China

State and local governments sometimes regulate the use of these terms by law—for example, certain words and phrases that "give an impression that he or she is connected in any way with the federal government, a state government, or any political subdivision of a state government" are forbidden for use by California security licensees by Business and Professions Code Section 7582.26. So the terms "private homicide police" or "special agent" would be unlawful for a security licensee to use in California. Similarly, in Canada, various acts [5] [2] specifically prohibits private security personnel from using the terms Probation Officer, law enforcement, police, or police officer.

Alberta and Ontario probibit the use of the term 'Security Officer' which is in widespread use in the United States for many decades. Recent changes to the act have also introduced restrictions on uniform and vehicle colours and markings to make private security personnel clearly distinctive from police personnel. Some sources feel that some of these restrictions are put in place to satisfy the Canadian Police Association.[6]

There is a marked difference between persons performing the duties historically associated with watchmen and persons who take a more active role in protecting persons and property. The former, often called "guards," are taught the mantra "observe and report," are minimally trained, and not expected to deal with the public or confront criminals.

The latter are often highly trained, sometimes armed depending on contracts agreed upon with clientele, and are more likely to interact with the general public and to confront the criminal element. These employees tend to take pride in the title "Security Officer" or "Protection Officer" and disdain the label of "guard."

Security jobs vary in pay and duties. There is sometimes little relationship between duties performed and compensation, for example some mall "security officers" who are exposed to serious risks earn less per hour than "industrial security guards" who have less training and responsibility.[7] However, there are now more positions in the security role that separate not just the titles, but the job itself. The roles have progressed and so have the areas for which security people are needed.

The term "agent" can be confusing in the security industry because it can describe a civil legal relationship between an employee and their employer or contractor ("agent of the owner" in California PC 602), and also can describe a person in government service ("Special Agent Jones of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.") The title "agent" can be confused with bail enforcement agents, also known as "bounty hunters," who are sometimes regulated by the same agencies which regulate private security. The term "agent" is also used in other industries, such as banking agents, loan agents and real estate agents.

Security agents are often employed in loss prevention and personal or executive protection (bodyguards) roles. They typically work in plainclothes (without a uniform), and are usually highly trained to act lawfully in direct defense of life or property.

Security personnel are essentially private citizens, and therefore are bound by the same laws and regulations as the citizenry they are contracted to serve, and therefore are not allowed to represent themselves as law enforcement under penalty of law.[8][9]

Licensing and regulation


Any person who conducts a business or is employed in a security-related field within Australia is required to be licensed. Each of the six states and two territories of Australia have separate legislation that covers all security activities. Licensing management in each state/territory is varied and is carried out by either Police, Attorney General's Department, Justice Department or the Department of Consumer Affairs.

  • New South Wales - (Police) Security Industry Act 1997 & Security Industry Regulation 2007
  • Victoria - (Police) Private Security Act 2004; Queensland - (Justice & Attorney-General) Security Providers Act 1993
  • South Australia - (Consumer & Business Affairs) Security and Investigation Agents Act 1995
  • Western Australia - (Police) Security & Related Activities (Control) Act 1996 & Security & Related Activities (Control) Regulations 1997; Tasmania - (Police) *Security and Investigation Agents Act 2002
  • Northern Territory - (Justice) Private Security Act & Private Security (Security Officer/Crowd Controller/Security Firms/Miscellaneous Matters) Regulations;
  • Australian Capital Territory - (Regulatory Services) Security Industry Act 2003 & Security Industry Regulation 2003

All of this legislation was intended to enhance the integrity of the private security industry.

All persons licensed to perform security activities are required to undertake a course of professional development in associated streams that are recognised nationally. This has not always been the case and the introduction of this requirement is expected to regulate the educational standards and knowledge base so that the particular job can be competently performed.

Strict requirements are laid down as to the type of uniform and badging used by security companies. Uniforms or badging that may be confused with a police officer are prohibited. Also, the use of the titles 'Security Police' or 'Private Detective' are unacceptable. Whilst the term security guard is used by companies, government bodies and individuals, the term security officer is deemed more suitable. Bouncers use the title Crowd Controllers, and Store Detectives use the title Loss Prevention or Asset Protection Officers. Bouncers, while a widely used description of security, are usually not trained security guards. Bouncers generally lack specific training, a criminal history check, and a uniform or ID. A bouncer is often an individual hired by the management of the specific venue he guard, and sometimes provided simple black clothing.

Security Officers are not permitted to carry firearms, handcuffs or batons unless they have a legitimate requirement to do so and then only when working and have the appropriate sub-class accreditation to their license.


In Canada, private security falls under the jurisdiction of Canada's ten provinces and three territories. All ten of Canada's provinces and one of its territories (the Yukon) have legislation that regulates the contract security industry.[10] These eleven jurisdictions require that companies that provide security guard services and their employees be licensed.

Most provinces in Canada regulate the use of handcuffs and weapons (such as firearms and batons) by contract security companies and their employees, either banning such use completely or permitting it only under certain circumstances. Additionally, in some provinces, some terms, or variations of them, are prohibited either on a uniform or in self reference.[11]

Canada's federal laws also restrict the ability of security guards to be armed. For example, section 17 of the Firearms Act makes it an offense for any person, including a security guard, to possess prohibited or restricted firearms (i.e. handguns) anywhere outside of his or her home.

There are two exceptions to this prohibition found in sections 18 and 19 of the Act. Section 18 deals with transportation of firearms while Section 19 deals with allowing persons to carry such firearms on their persons to protect their lives or the lives of other persons, or for the performance of their occupation (Armour Car Guards, Licensed Trappers), provided an Authorization to Carry (ATC) is first obtained.

British Columbia

Private security in the province of British Columbia is governed by two pieces of legislation: the Security Services Act[12] and the Security Services Regulation.[13] These laws are administered and enforced by the Security Programs and Police Technology Division[14] of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

The legislation requires that guards must be at least 19 years old, undergo a criminal background check, and successfully complete a training course.[15] As far as weapons, British Columbia law severely restricts their use by security guards. Section 11(1)(c) of the Security Services Regulation prohibits security personnel from carrying or using any "item designed for debilitating or controlling a person or animal", which the government interprets to include all weapons. As well, section 11 forbids private security from using or carrying restraints, such as handcuffs, unless authorized by the government. However, as in other parts of Canada, armoured car guards are permitted to carry firearms.

In the past, only personnel that worked for contract security, that is, security companies, were regulated in British Columbia. However, as of September 1, 2009, in-house security guards and private investigators came under the jurisdiction of the Security Services Act and Security Services Regulation. Bodyguards and bouncers, effective November 1, 2009, are also subject to these regulations.[16]


Armed private security are much rarer in Europe, and nonexistent in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Switzerland. In developing countries (with host country permission), an armed security force composed mostly of ex-military personnel is often used to protect corporate assets, particularly in war-torn regions.

As a requirement of the Private Security Industry Act 2001, the UK now requires all contract security guards to have a valid Security Industry Authority license.[17] The licence must be displayed when on duty, although a dispensation may be granted for store detectives, bodyguards and others who need to operate without being identified as a security guard. This dispensation is not available to Vehicle Immobilisers. Licenses are valid for three years and require the holders to undergo formal training, and are also to pass mandatory Criminal Records Bureau checks. Licences for Vehicle Immobilisers are valid for one year. Armed guarding and guarding with a weapon are illegal.

In Finland, all contract security guards are required to have a valid license granted by police. Temporary license is valid for four months and normal license for five years. License requires a minimum 40-hour course for temporary license and 60 hours more for a normal license. Additionally a narrow security vetting is required. The 40-hour course allows the carrying of a fixed-length baton and handcuffs, separate training and license is required for the security guard to carry pepper spray, extendable baton or a firearm. Rehearse of weapons usage is mandatory every year and is regulated by the Ministry of The Interior, to ensure the safe handling of pepper spray and such. In Finland, a security guard has the right to detain a person "red-handed", or seen committing a crime and the right to search the detained individual for harmful items and weapons. An individual who has been forcefully detained can only be released by the police. All companies providing security guarding services are also required to have a valid license from Ministry of the Interior.[18]

In The Netherlands security guards Beveiligingsbeambte must undergo a criminal backgroundcheck by the local police department in the area where the private security company is located. To become a securtiy guard in The Netherlands a person must complete the basic training level 2 Beveiliger2, to complete the training a trainee must undergo a three month intership with a private security company that is licensed by the svpb, this is the board that controls security exams. A trainee guard must pass for his diploma within one year, if the trainee does not pass he is not allowed to work anymore until the trainee completes his training with a positive result, after a positive result a new ID can be issued and is valid for three years, after that the guard must undergo a backgroundcheck by the local police again. Security guards in The Netherlands are not allowed to carry any kind of weapon or handcuffs. Every uniformed security guard in The Netherlands must have the V symbol on its uniform to ensure the public they are dealing with a private guard, this rule is mandatory by the Ministry of justice. Security uniforms may not look like similar to police uniforms, and may not contain any kind of rank designation, and the collor yellow or gold are not allowed to used because the Dutch police uses gold accents in their uniforms, also wearing a uniformcap is not longer allowed. Every new uniform design or addition must be approved by the ministry of justice before use. A patrol vehicle may not look like a police striped vehicle. The only private security guards that are allowed to carry firearms are those who work for the military or Dutch National bank (De Nederlandsche Bank) this is were the national gold reserve can be found.


In Norway security officers are called "Vektere". there are a two different types of vektere — the normal uniformed or civil-clothing officers who watch over private and semi-public properties, and government-hired vectere who work in public places, such as the Parliament. The law provides more enforcement powers to security officers in the Parliament than to private security officers.

Security officers must undergo three weeks of training and internship. They are allowed to work for six months after one week of the introduction course. It's also possible to choose Security as a high school major, which requires two years of school and two years of trainee positions at private companies, resulting in a certificate from the government. This certificate makes it easier to get a job, with slightly higher pay. It also makes it easier to get a job elsewhere in the security industry. The certificate can also be obtained by private security officers who have had a minimum of 5 years working experience.

In addition to normal "vektere" there also is a special branch for "Ordensvakter" who normally work as bouncers or security at concerts and similar types of events. Ordensvakter has to undergo an extra week of training to learn techniques on how to handle drunk people and people on various drugs. They also learn about the alcohol laws of Norway (which are rather strict). The police in the local police district must approve each Ordensvakt. These special regulations arose after events in the 1990s when bouncers had a bad reputation, specially in Oslo for being to brutal and rough with people. At that time, the police had no control over who worked as bouncers. After the government forced training and mandatory ID-cards for bouncers the problems have been reduced. The police of Oslo report that Ordensvakter are now helping the police identify crimes that otherwise would not be reported.

In 2007 several guards from the Securitas AB company were arrested for brutality against a robber they apprehended on the main street of Oslo. The crime was captured with a mobile camera by pedestrians and created a public outcry, with many objecting to the way the security guards took the law in their own hands. Later, it came to light that the thief first attacked the security guards when they approached him, so the brutality charges were dropped.[19] As a result of this episode, the police said that they would be more careful when conducting criminal background checks for security guards. Before 2007 security guards were checked when they applied for a job, but not while they were working. Security companies were also criticized for not checking criminal records sufficiently, in some cases not at all. Now guards working in private security must be checked annually. The police have the authority to withdraw a company's licence if the company does not submit lists of employees to the police. The police in Norway were widely criticized for not checking guards properly, and even when they encounter an issue with a guard, the guard can stil work for months before anything is done. The security company G4s, after being criticized by police for hiring criminals, stated that they cannot do anything about the problem, because only the police have the ability to check the guard's crimial records.[20]

Today there are around 15,000 people working within private security in Norway. The police have around 10,000 employees in total.

Notable companies operating in Norway:

  • Securitas
  • G4S
  • Infratek
  • ISS A/S (formerly Personellsikring)
  • ProSec – Professional Security (mainly event security)

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the term Security Officer refers to a senior staff member who supervises a team of security personnel. The staff who work under security officers' supervision are called Security Guards.


Before 1 October 1996, private security personnel were regulated by the Watchmen Ordinance (Chapter 299). However, there were many problems with that system of regulation—for example, there were no restrictions as to whom may establish private security service companies to provide security services to a client. Also, there was no regulation of people whom may perform installation of security systems. Some employers hired "caretakers" instead of security guards to avoid their responsibilities under the ordinance (in formal definition, "caretakers" are supposed to provide facilities management service, although security service, which provided to residential properties, takes some parts of facilities management service). As a result, the Hong Kong Government enacted a wholly new law, the Security and Guarding Services Ordinance (Chapter 460), to replace the Watchmen Ordinance.

According to the Security and Guarding Services Ordinance: No individual shall do, agree to do, or hold himself/herself out as doing, or as available to do, security work for another person unless he/she does so-

  • Under and in accordance with a permit; or
  • Otherwise than for reward.[21]

Security work means any of the following activities-

  • Guarding any property;
  • Guarding any person or place for the purpose of preventing or detecting the occurrence of any offence; (Replaced 25 of 2000 s. 2)
  • Installing, maintaining or repairing a security device;
  • Designing for any particular premises or place a system incorporating a security device.

Security device means a device designed or adapted to be installed in any premises or place, except on or in a vehicle, for the purpose of detecting or recording- (Amended 25 of 2000 s. 2)

  • The occurrence of any offence; or
  • The presence of an intruder or of an object that persons are, for reasons of security, not permitted to bring onto the premises or place or any other premises or place.[22]


Any applicant who wishes to apply for a Security Personnel Permit (SPP) must:

  • He/she have been living in Hong Kong for at least 5 years. (This requirement may have been changed)
  • No criminal record.
  • At least 17 years old when submitting his/her application.
  • Have passed a mandatory 16 hour training course and have been granted a certificate of the course.
  • If the applicant is over 65 years old, he/she must submit his/her health examination report.

Although the Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority ( SGSIA ) is the agency in charge of the security service industry, all applicants must submit their application and pay the fee by mail or in person to Hong Kong Police Force(License Section).


Security Personnel Permit was separated to four types: A, B, C, and D.

  • Type A permit holder was permitted to work in a "single-block" residential building; they are not allowed to carry firearms. No age limit.
  • Type B permit holder was permitted to work in any type of properties, but they also are not allowed carry firearms. The maximum age limit of this permit is 65.
  • Type C permit holder was permitted to work as an armed guard. (Usually, they are members of the cash transport car crew.) The maximum age limit of this permit is 55.
  • Type D permit holder was permitted to design, install, and repair security devices. No maximum age limit.

The permit is valid for five years. All holders must renew their permit before it expires, or they will lose their qualification to work, as such, until their permit is renewed.

The type A and Type B security service are gradually combined with property management service, though the boundary between these two industries is unclear.

Power of Arrest

Security Guards in Hong Kong do not have special powers of arrest above that of the ordinary citizen, i.e. citizen's arrest, also known locally as the "101 arrest power." The Section 101 in the Criminal Procedure Ordinance addresses that arrest of an offender by a private citizen is allowed in certain circumstances if the offender is attempting an arrestable offense. Once arrested, the suspect must be delivered to a police office as soon as possible.

An arrestable offence is defined as any crime carrying a sentence of more than 12 months imprisonment. No security personnel are allowed to search other person, nor are they allowed to get personal information from other people, with the exception of some specific circumstances.

A group of security guards in Hong Kong lined up (fall-in) before on duty.


In Israel, almost all security guards carry a firearm, primarily to prevent terror attacks. Security guards are common: they perform entrance checks at shopping malls, transportation terminals, government and other office buildings, and many stores. Many locations with a high number of visitors, such as the Jerusalem Bus Station, employ X-ray machines to check passenger's bags; in other places, they are opened and visually inspected. As of 2009, private security guards have also replaced official security forces at some checkpoints inside and on the border of the West Bank, as well as the crossings to Gaza.


In August 2007, Malaysia banned hiring of foreign security guards following a rape and murder of a student by a Pakistani security guard.[23]

Security guard companies need to apply to the Ministry of Internal Security.

South Africa

Security guards along with the rest of the private security industry are regulated under Act 56 of 2001, Private Security Industry Regulation Act.[24]

United States

Private security guards have outnumbered police officers since the 1980s, predating the heightened concern about security brought on by the September 11, 2001, attacks. The more than 1 million contract security officers, and an equal number of guards estimated to work directly for U.S. corporations, dwarf the nearly 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States.[25]

Most states require a license to work as a security officer.[26] This license may include a criminal background check or mandated training requirements.

Security guards have the same powers of arrest as a private citizen, called a "private person" arrest, "any person" arrest, or "citizen's arrest." Most security officers do not carry weapons. If weapons are carried, additional permits and training are usually required. Armed security personnel are generally employed to protect sensitive sites such as government and military installations, armored money transports, casinos, banks and other financial institutions, and nuclear power plants. However, armed security is quickly becoming a standard for vehicle patrol officers and on many other non-government sites.

The responsibilities of security guards in the United States are expanding in scope. For example, a trend is the increasing use of private security to support services previously provided by police departments. James F. Pastor addresses substantive legal and public policy issues which directly or indirectly relate to the provision of security services. These can be demonstrated by the logic of alternative or supplemental service providers. The use of private police has particular appeal because property or business owners can directly contract for public safety services, thereby providing welcome relief for municipal budgets. Finally, private police functions can be flexible, depending upon the financial, organizational, political, and situational circumstances of the client.[27]

Arizona – Licensed security companies are required to provide eight hours of pre-assignment training to all persons employed as security guards before the employee acts in the capacity of a security guard.[28] There is a state-mandated curriculum that must be taught, and subjects covered must include criminal law and laws of arrest, uniforms and grooming, communications, use of force, general security procedures, crime scene preservation, ethics, and first response.[29]

An ADT Bel-Air Patrol vehicle

California – Security Guards are required to obtain a license from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS), of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, undergo a criminal history background check through the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and complete a 40-hour course of required training. This required training is broken down into smaller training sections and time-lines. The first is 8-hours of BSIS-designed instruction on powers to arrest and weapons. Then, within 30 days of getting the individual officers license, they must receive 16-hours of training on various mandatory and elective courses. Finally, within 6-months of getting their license, they must receive an additional 16-hours of training on various mandatory and elective courses.

California security officers are also required to complete 8-hours of annual training on security-related topics, in addition to the initial 40-hours of training.

The training and exam may be administered by any private patrol operator or by any of a large number of certified training facilities. This training can be classroom or online.,[30][31]

New Jersey – As of 2006 all security personnel must undergo a state mandated certified training program. This law commonly referred to SORA is the state's effort to increase the quality of security personnel.

New Mexico – As of 2008 all security guards must undergo FBI background checks and a certified training program. Guards who carry firearms must also undergo additional training with a firearm through an approved firearms instructor and pass a phycological exam. The security industry is regulated through New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Division.

North Carolina – Security Officers in North Carolina are required to register and become certified with the Private Protective Services Board (PPSB) the private security authority body under the North Carolina Dept. of Justice. The purpose of the Private Protective Services Board is to administer the licensing, education and training requirements for persons, firms, associations and corporations engaged in private protective services within North Carolina. The board is totally fee funded and is staffed by departmental employees directed on a daily basis by the Director, who is appointed by the Attorney General. There are two classifications for an officer: Armed and Unarmed. While an unarmed officer is required to take a 16 hour class of training and instruction to become certified, an Armed officer must take additional hours of classroom training as well as qualify on a gun range with the firearm which will be carried on duty. One of the leaders and largest private security firms in the state of North Carolina is Lankford Protective Services based out of Greensboro NC. Lankford employs the most armed and unarmed Officers in the entire state and also has the largest Private "Company Police" force in the state, in which include sworn Police Officers who can enforce law to the fullest extent while on the client's property whom employs and pays for their services.

Oklahoma – Security officers in Oklahoma are licensed by CLEET (Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training). To be licensed as an unarmed officer an individual must be at least 18 years of age and undergo 40 hours of classroom training and pass criminal history checks. Armed guards must be 21 years of age, have another 40 hours of classroom training, qualify with their firearm and pass a psychological evaluation.

Pennsylvania – No licensing requirements to be an unarmed security guard. However, armed security guards must undergo and successfully complete a 40 hour training course (including shooting range time) in order to be certified to carry weapons and on watch while on duty under the Lethal Weapons Training Act (commonly referred to as Act 235 certification). Certification involves qualifying on a pistol range, with firing of 50 rounds of ammo larger than a .380acp. You are also required to qualify on a shotgun. The certification is good for five years at which time an eight hour refresher course must be taken or the certification is revoked.[32]

South Carolina – All Security Officers have the same authority and power to make an arrest as Sheriff's Deputies, while on the property they are paid to protect.[33] Most companies prohibit this authority by policy due to lack of confidence and liability fears. Private Officers may respond to calls for service, make arrests and use blue lights[34] and traffic radar. They may also be specially authorized by the State Law Enforcment Division (SLED), to issue Uniform Traffic Tickets to violators.[35] Security Officers are licensed or registered (as appropriate) by SLED for one year at a time. Training for unarmed officers is 8 hours, an additional 8 hours is required for a security weapons permit or a concealed security weapons permit. Additional hours are required to be documented for officers issuing public or private tickets as well as officers that will be using batons, pepper spray or tasers.

Virginia – Security officers in Virginia are required to be licensed by DCJS (Department of Criminal Justice Services).[36] To be licensed as an unarmed security officer one must go through 18 hours of classroom training from a licensed instructor in order to obtain this card and it must be done by the end of their 90 days after hire with a Security company. Every two years the card must be renewed, by completing an inservice with a licensed instructor. To be licensed as an armed security officer one must complete an additional 16 hours of firearms training, 6 hours of training in conducting a lawful arrest, and qualification with the type and caliber of weapon they intend to carry. Firearms endorsements must be renewed annually by completing an inservice and passing a firearms qualification. Licensed armed security officers are authorized under state code to arrest [37] for any offense committed in their presence while they are on duty at the location they are hired to protect. They may also be granted the authority by the chief law enforcement officer in their jurisdiction to issue summons to appear in court[38] for felonies and misdemeanors.For more information on DCJS codes and regs click here.

St Louis, Missouri – Security officers are required to be licensed by the St Louis County Police or St Louis City Police. St Louis County Security Officer training is a two day class and yearly renewal class. Armed officers must shoot bi-annually to keep their "armed" status. County license is called a Metropolitan License meaning to is good for St Louis City and County. More Info for St Louis County License is available though the County website posted here:[39] St Louis City Web site has all the info regarding licensing requirements due to fact they are the same in city and county.The City web site is posted here.[40] Readers should note that this only applys to persons working in security in St Louis City or St Louis County

Security officers and the police

Security personnel are not police officers, unless they are security police, but are often identified as such due to similar uniforms and behaviors, especially on private property. Security personnel in the U.S. derive their powers from state laws, that allow them a contractual arrangement with clients that give them Agent of the Owner powers.

This includes a nearly unlimited power to question with the absence of probable cause requirements that frequently dog public law enforcement officers, provided that the security officer does not tread on the rights and liberties of others as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Some jurisdictions do commission or deputize security officers and give them limited additional powers, particularly when employed in protecting public property such as mass transit stations. This is a special case that is often unique to a particular jurisdiction or locale. Additionally, security officers may also be called upon to act as an agent of law enforcement if a police officer, sheriff's deputy, etc. is in immediate need of help and has no available backup.

Some security officers do reserve police powers and are typically employed directly by governmental agencies. Typically, these are sworn law enforcement personnel whose duties primarily involve the security of a government installation, and are also a special case.

Other local and state governments occasionally enter into special contracts with security agencies to provide patrol services in public areas. These personnel are sometimes referred to as "private police officers."

Sometimes, police officers work as security personnel while not on duty. This is usually done for extra income, and work is particularly done in hazardous jobs such as bodyguard work and bouncers outside nightclubs.

Police are called in when a situation warrants a higher degree of authority to act upon reported observations that security does not have the authority to act upon. However, some states allow Licensed Security Officers the full arrest powers equal to that of a Sheriff Deputy.

In 1976, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration's National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals reported:

'One massive resource, filled with significant numbers of personnel, armed with a wide array of technology, and directed by professionals who have spent their entire adult lifetimes learning how to prevent and reduce crime, has not been tapped by governments in the fight against criminality. The private security industry, with over one million workers, sophisticated alarm systems and perimeter safeguards, armored trucks, sophisticated mini-computers, and thousands of highly skilled crime prevention experts, offers a potential for coping with crime that can not be equalled by any other remedy or approach...Underutilized by police, all but ignored by prosecutors and the judiciary, and unknown to corrections officials, the private security professional may be the only person in this society who has the knowledge to effectively prevent crime.' [41]

In New York, the Area Police/Private Security Liaison program was organized in 1986 by the NYPD commissioner and four former police chiefs working in the private security industry to promote mutual respect, cross-training, and sharing of crime-related information between public police and private security.



Private Security personnel initially outnumbered police. From the Australian Bureau of Statistics Report in 2006 there were 52,768 full-time security officers in the security industry compared to 44,898 police officers. But since Security Industry Regulation Act 2007 it has droped to less than half that.


The trend in the UK at the time of writing (March 2008) is one of polarisation. The market in Manned Guarding (the security industry term for the security guards most people are familiar with) is diverging toward two opposite extremes; one typified by a highly trained and well paid security officer; the other with security officers on or about minimum wage with only the minimum training required by law.

Within the “in-house” sector, where security personnel are not subject to licensing under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, the same divergence can be seen; with some companies opting for in-house security to maintain control of their standards, whilst others use it as a route to cheaper, non-regulated, security.


Economist Robert B. Reich, in his 1991 book The Work of Nations, stated that in the United States, the number of private security guards and officers was comparable to the number of publicly paid police officers. He used this phenomenon as an example of the general withdrawal of the affluent from existing communities where governments provide public services. Instead, the wealthy pay to provide their own premium services, through voluntary, exclusive associations. As taxpayer resistance has limited government budgets, and as the demand for secure homes in gated communities has grown, these trends have continued in the 1990s and 2000s.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the trend in the US is one of a quiet transformation of the role of security guards into first responders in case of a terrorist attack or major disaster. This has resulted in longer guard instruction hours, extra training in terrorism tactics and increased laws governing private security companies in some states.[42]


The vigiles were soldiers assigned to guard the city of Rome, often credited as the origin of both security personnel and police, although their principal duty was as a fire brigade. There have been night watchmen since at least the Middle Ages in Europe; walled cities of ancient times also had watchmen. A special chair appeared in Europe sometime in the late Middle Ages, called the watchman's chair; this unupholstered wooden chair had a forward slanting seat to prevent the watchman from dozing off during his watch.

Notable security guards

  • The security guard Frank Wills detected the Watergate burglars, ultimately leading to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon as President of the United States.
  • Christoph Meili, night guard at a Swiss bank, became a whistle blower in 1997. He told about the bank destroying records related to funds of Holocaust victims, whose money the bank was supposed to return to their heirs.
  • In 1999, Pierlucio Tinazzi rescued 10 victims from the Mont Blanc Tunnel Fire, before dying while trying to rescue an 11th.
  • In 2001, Gary Coleman, former child actor, was employed as a shopping mall security guard in the Los Angeles area. Whilst shopping for a bullet-proof vest for his job, Coleman assaulted a female autograph collector. Coleman said he felt "threatened by her insistence" and punched her in the head.[43] He was later charged for the assault and ordered to pay her $1,665 for hospital bills.
  • Derrick Brun, an unarmed security guard employed by the Red Lake School District in Minnesota, was praised by President Bush for his heroic role in protecting children during the 2005 Red Lake High School Massacre: "Derrick's bravery cost him his life, and all Americans honor him".[44][45]
  • Armed security guard Jeanne Assam. In 2007, Matthew Murray fatally shot two and wounded two others at the Youth With A Mission retreat center in Arvada Colorado. A few hours later he fatally shot two others and wounded another three in the New Life Church parking lot. When Murray entered the church, he was met by armed security guard Jeanne Assam, who ordered him to drop his weapon. Assam shot and wounded Murray when he failed to comply. The pastor of New Life Church credited Assam with saving over 100 lives.[46]



Many security guards in Canada are unionized. The primary unions which represent security guards in Canada are the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Local 333, and the Canadian branch of the United Steelworkers (USW). In contrast to the legal restrictions in the United States, Canadian labor relations boards will certify bargaining units of security guards for a Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)-affiliated union or in the same union with other classifications of employees.

United States

In June, 1947, the United States Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act placing many restrictions on labor unions. Section 9 (B) (3) of the act prevents the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from certifying for collective bargaining any unit which mixes security employees with non-security employees. This restricts the ability of security employees to join any union that also represents other types of employees.

They may be part of an independent, "security-only" union, not affiliated with any coalition of other types of labor unions such as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). A union which also represents non-security employees may also represent and bargain on behalf of security employees with the employer's consent.

Two of the largest security unions are the Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) and the United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA).

Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America

In 1948 with the Taft-Hartley restrictions well into effect, the Detroit, Michigan area security guards of United Auto Workers (UAW) Amalgamated Local 114 were forced to break away and start a separate "Plant Guards Organizing Committee". The NLRB ruled that as an affiliate of the CIO, the committee was indirectly affiliated with production unions and therefore ineligible for certification under the new restrictions.

The committee was then forced to completely withdraw from the CIO and start the independent United Plant Guard Workers of America. By the 1990s, this union had evolved to include many other types of security officers and changed its name to the SPFPA.

United Government Security Officers of America

In 1992, the USGOA was formed. It specializes in organizing federal, state, and local government security officers, but since May, 2000 has been open to representing other types of security personnel as well.


The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has also sought to represent security employees, although its efforts have been complicated by the Taft-Harley Act because the SEIU also represents janitors, trash collectors, and other building service employees.

Hazards in the Industry

Security personnel often are exposed to physical and physiological trauma that can have lasting effects.This has always been an issue but the 21st century’s more violent and angry culture combined with drug and alcohol related violence results in more instances of security personnel being physically or verbally abused.

Other contributing factors are high workload, long hours, low pay, boredom and disregard of industry standards by employers and clients e.g. break times, access to bathrooms and facilities ECT.

Another problem particularly in NSW Australia is the severe security officer shortage brought on by the rushed Security Industry Regulation Act 2007 (which has been nicknamed the Crimpers act).This act was approved by David Andrew Campbell who at the time was Minister for Illawarra and acting police commissioner and had signed the Act for both parties.

See also


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  2. ^ "Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition". 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  3. ^ "Morse Watchmans | Products | PowerCheck". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  4. ^ Rigakos, George. 2002. The New Parapolice: Risk Markets and the Commodification of Social Control. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (see: or McLeod, Ross. 2004. Parapolice: A Revolution in the Business of Law Enforcement. Toronto: Boheme Press. See also the recent empirical work of Button, Mark. 2007. Security Officers and Policing: Powers, Culture and Control in the Governance of Private Space. Aldershot: Ashgate.
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  11. ^ "Licences and Forms". Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Government of Ontario. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  12. ^ "Security Services Act". Government of British Columbia. Retrieved 2009-03-12. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Security Services Regulation". Government of British Columbia. Retrieved 2009-03-12. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Security Programs and Police Technology Division". British Columbia Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  15. ^ "JIBC | Police Academy | Security Training - BST1 BST2". 2008-09-01. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  16. ^ "News and Updates". British Columbia Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  17. ^ "SIA website". 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  18. ^ "Ministry of the Interior unit for supervision of the private security industry". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  19. ^ "Får ingen konsekvenser for vekterne". Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  20. ^ url= | Kriminelle vektere slipper unna
  21. ^ "SECURITY AND GUARDING SERVICES ORDINANCE - SECT 10 Restrictions on doing security work". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  22. ^ "SECURITY AND GUARDING SERVICES ORDINANCE - SECT 2 Interpretation". 1997-06-30. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  23. ^ "Malaysia bans hiring of foreign security guards". 
  24. ^ "Act 56 of 2001, Private Security Industry Regulation Act". South African Government. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  25. ^ Goldstein, Amy (2010-08-23). "More security firms getting police powers / Some see benefits to public safety, but others are wary". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  26. ^ "Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers". 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  27. ^ Pastor, James F. (2003). The Privatization of Police In America: An Analysis and Case Study. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-1574-8. 
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  31. ^ "Security Guard Fact Sheet - Bureau of Security and Investigative Services". 2007-03-23. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  32. ^ LWTA Rules and Regulations[dead link]
  33. ^ South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 40,Chapter 18
  34. ^ South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 56,Chapter 5 Section 170
  35. ^ South Carolina, Attorney General's Opinion: Aug 01,1978 Apr 30, 1987 May 23, 1995 Aug 30, 2001 Oct 15, 2004 and State V. Brant (S.C.1982) 278 S.C. 188,293 SE2d 703
  36. ^ "Legislative Information System". 2003-01-01. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
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  39. ^ "Division of Operational Support Services". 2001-09-11. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  40. ^ "SLMPD Private Security". 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  41. ^ National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (NAC-CJSG) (1976). Private Security: Report of the Task Force on Private Security. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration 
  42. ^ "Contact Support". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  43. ^ "court TV becomes truTV". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
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  45. ^ "Welcome to". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  46. ^ "Police: Same Gunman Attacked Both Churches". KMGH Denver. 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 

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