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After the Arrest

In this page, we discuss what security guards should do after an arrest. Although you should always follow employer policies, you should also know the law and what is legal and illegal regarding what you can do after an arrest.

Following an Arrest


After you arrest someone, you must turn them over to the police WITHOUT DELAY. You should write down the time you (1) made the arrest, and (2) called the police. If you delay too long in calling the police, you may be guilty of an illegal detention even though you might have spent the time questioning the suspect. Questioning the suspect is not as important as obeying the law in any circumstance. If you illegally detain a suspect you may lose your job and your guard registration, and possibly be sued should the suspect wish to press charges against you. The most important thing to remember here is to call the local law enforcement as soon as possible. Do not attempt to transport a suspect on your own as this can result in false imprisonment charges.


You will also be asked to give a statement. Make sure to include everything that you witnessed and did during the criminal act and the arrest. Include and be clear about the time of the arrest, the time you called the local police, and any force you had to use to arrest the suspect. It is important to have that information on record as soon as possible.


You should remember to avoid making arrests. Arrests can be costly to everyone involved, can be risky and cause unnecessary danger in certain situations, and are time consuming. Also, be aware of employer policy and the law, and whether or not the two contradict each other. The law should be a priority in those situations.

Reasonable Delay


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, and you are guilty of illegal detainment.


What is the Peace Officer's Responsibility?


The police upon arrival at the scene will evaluate the elements of the crime, detention, and arrest. They will then make the determination as to whether they must take custody of the person from the security guard. If the elements of the crime that the person was arrested for have not been legally met, the officer could simply release the person and leave the scene after giving the security guard an explanation.


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 them down to the station to take fingerprints and make photo identification. Also, 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 police 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 factual details as possible. The police will also investigate to collect evidence. You may also be asked to testify at the trial.

Release from Custody


If the peace officer decides to release the suspect, Penal Code section 849 (c) provides that the peace officer shall include a record of release in the report. Thereafter, such arrest shall not be deemed an arrest, but detention only (PC 849.5).


Private Person's Arrest - Misdemeanor


If the suspect is charged with a misdemeanor (such as trespassing, petty theft, or disturbing the peace), you will be recorded as the person making the arrest. You cannot arrest a suspect for a misdemeanor unless you actually see a violation happen.


If you arrest a suspect, you must call the police. When they arrive, turn the suspect over to them and make your statement.


Other things you may be expected to do if you make a misdemeanor arrest include:


Meeting with the district attorney (usually the next day) to discuss the case and give a sworn statement regarding what happened.

Attending the suspect's hearing.

Testifying at the suspect's trial.



Here is a list of tips and things to remember in regards to completing an arrest legally and properly:


Be confident. Showing the suspect that you don't know what you're doing will make them more likely to leave the scene of the crime whether or not you have already detained them.

Be as observant as possible. Even if you aren't able to keep the suspect at the scene, you will be able to act as witness and identify the suspect later.

When dealing with potential criminals, it's better to be on the side of caution and leave the crime control to trained professionals.

In most cases, you don't need to be a citizen of the country you're in in order to make a private person's arrest, despite the other term "citizen's arrest".

By making an arrest, you're exposing yourself to possible lawsuits or criminal charges (e.g., impersonating an officer of the law, false imprisonment, kidnapping, or wrongful arrest) if the wrong person is apprehended or if you violate a suspect's civil rights. A citizen's arrest can be a legal minefield and dealing with a suspect's lawyers is often more dangerous than apprehending the suspect. You will most likely be called to court on multiple occasions.

Be very careful on arresting suspects who may have a concealed weapon or are threatening you. Unless you want your last words to be "I am making a private person's arrest," do not attempt to apprehend a suspect with a weapon. Just get a good description to give to the police.

Every employer has different policies; guidelines are not the same, and your best option is often simply to observe and report.

Detaining a suspect against their will may be attempted kidnapping and illegal detention or false imprisonment.

An arrest must be made during or immediately after the crime, or else it is illegal.

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