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Use of Force

If a guard needs to legally defend the amount of force they used,

they should know that the prosecutor, to succeed in convicting the

guard for assault, needs to show:


That the aggressor did not have the ability to harm the guard.

That the guard was not in imminent jeopardy of being harmed.

That the aggressor did not intend to harm the guard.

That the guard was able to escape or take other less forceful

defensive actions.


So, the justifications for use of force are:


That harm would have been inflicted on the guard or someone else.

That the use of force and the level of force used was necessary.

That the level of force used was reasonable.

That the use of force and level of force used followed employer policy and training.


If a security guard faces civil or criminal charges for excessive use of force, the following may also be considered during the trial:


Did the security guard use force under a reasonable belief that force was necessary?

Did the security guard command the aggressor to stop attacking them?

Did the security guard follow their employer's policy and procedures for use of force?

Did the security guard have a duty to retreat?

Did the security guard follow their training?

Does the security guard have documented proof that they were trained how to use the type of force they used?

Did the security guard by use of force put someone else physically in danger?


Are there witnesses that the security guard used reasonable force?

A Guard Should Never Use Any Type of Force That They Are Not Trained to Use 

A guard who attempts to use any type of force that they have not been trained in the use of opens themselves up to injury or death, could possibly injury or kill the suspect or causes injuries to others. Hence, a guard SHOULD NEVER use any type of force for which they have not been trained in the proper use. Using force types that a guard has not been trained in the proper use of also leaves them open to civil and criminal lawsuits. All types of use of weapons or self-defense training should be documented.


The order a guard should train and practice for conflict resolution and the possible use of force is:


  • Train their brain and practice what they learned. A guard should know correct conflict resolution techniques.

  • Train their voice to implement what their brain knows. A guard should practice using verbal conflict resolution techniques and become proficient with them before moving onto hand combat and self-defense training.

  • Train in proper hand combat or self-defense. A guard should practice these techniques and become proficient at them before moving onto weapons training.

  • Train in the proper use of weapons. Practice using them in simulations or other training venues to become proficient in their use without causing unnecessary injury to those the weapons are used against.


Training in this order helps ensure that the guard has developed proper judgment and de-escalation skills before being allowed to carry a weapon. Proper judgment and de-escalation skills help prevent a guard from using unnecessary force.


In situations where a guard has not been trained in the use of force, they should retreat and call for backup. If the guard cannot retreat, they should not attempt to use force, but continue to use verbal conflict-resolution and de-escalation techniques to try to talk themselves out of the situation until they can retreat and call for backup.

Writing Incident Reports When Force is Used


When a guard writes and files an Incident Report to cover any instance they

used force, they must be extra careful and precise. They must not leave out

any details. The report should be written in such a way that when it is read

in court, it meets technical requirements of both civil and criminal courts.

The guard's report must prove that they acted in a way that a reasonable

person would act in the same situation. When a guard reviews their report,

they should try to think like a prosecutor or media would when reading the

report; looking for areas that if not clarified further may prove they acted

in a negligent or illegal manner.


When writing an Incident Report in cases where the guard used force, the Incident Report should:


Include why was the use of force necessary. (To prevent the suspect from escaping, self-defense or the defense of others.)

State why the guard used the force and why they thought their actions were reasonable. (Following employer or supervisor training and policies; use of force was deliberate, controlled, intentional and conscious; suspect was the aggressor; and first-aid was provided to the suspect afterwards.)

Follow a chronological order, have no contradictions, times and facts match other reports or records of the incident.


De-escalate instead of Using Force


If at all possible, de-escalate the incident using conflict resolution tactics. A guard who remains calm has less chance of not using excessive force. If a guard is fearful of the confrontation, their judgment is impaired. A guard who becomes fearful may jump ahead in the use of force continuum and put themselves in physical and legal danger. Or a fearful guard may freeze and not be able to defend themselves or others.


A guard should be trained to recognize symptoms of fear in themselves, so that if they detect that they have become fearful, the can safely retreat and call for backup. Symptoms that a guard may be becoming fearful are sweating, fast heart rate, rapid and shallow breathing, tunnel vision, not hearing, loss of coordination, mind racing and the feeling that things are happening in slow motion.

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