What Security Guards Can’t Do: Understanding the Limits

While security guards provide invaluable protection services, there are legal and practical limits on their roles and capabilities. Understanding what guards can’t do ensures appropriate expectations and utilization of security personnel. Here are some key restrictions:

Make Arrests

Security guards do not have arrest powers except in cases of felony crimes committed directly in front of them. They can detain suspects until police arrive. Trying citizen’s arrests often leads to excessive force allegations. Guards mainly observe and report crimes.

Conduct Searches

Guards cannot conduct searches of people, bags, lockers, cars etc. without consent. Random searches violate constitutional rights. Reasonable suspicion is required. Guards can request to inspect items and deny entry without consent.

Use Excessive Force

Guards must only utilize reasonable force to protect life or prevent substantial property damage. Excessive restraining methods can result in assault charges. Guards should use verbal commands first before any physical intervention.

Interrogate People

Guards lack the authority to interrogate people, attempt to get confessions, or disclose information involuntarily. This constitutes unlawful detention. Questions should relate directly to duties like access control.

Make Traffic Stops

Guards do not have the right to make traffic or vehicle stops unless authorized by the property owner in limited circumstances. This requires extensive extra training.

Ignore Criminal Acts

Guards should never turn a blind eye to crimes in progress or that have already occurred. Failing to address illegal acts can lead to charges of being an accomplice. Guards have a duty to deter and report crime properly.

Breach Confidentiality

Guards must protect the privacy and confidentiality of the property owners. Sharing sensitive information or gossiping about occurrences violates trust. Discretion is key.

By understanding appropriate practices and duties, guards and clients avoid issues down the road. Know the legal guidelines for your jurisdiction.

Enforce policies unrelated to safety/security

Guards cannot enforce company policies like employee productivity, working hours, smoking areas etc. unless directly related to safety and security matters. That responsibility lies with management.

Make medical diagnoses

Guards cannot provide medical opinions or care beyond basic first aid. Only trained medical professionals can make health assessments and deliver patient care.

Investigate crimes extensively

Guards are not investigators. They should interview witnesses and gather basic incident details, but leave in-depth criminal investigations to police.

Have access to personnel files

Due to privacy laws, guards cannot access employee records, health information, or other confidential documentation unrelated to security operations.

Modify operations or processes

Guards cannot modify business workflows, production lines, computer settings, machinery, etc. They protect existing operations rather than changing procedures.