Authority to Question and a Basis for Making Decisions
A Guard's Authority to Question People
A security guard is an agent of the owner of the private property and, in this role, can exercise the owner's right to ask people on the (owner's) property what they are doing there, who they are, etc. If they refuse to answer the questions or if their answers are not satisfactory, the guard may ask them to leave. If they do not leave, the guard may arrest them for trespassing, and should call local law enforcement without unreasonable delay.
When on property and not employed as a guard, your authority is no greater than any other person's. On the other hand, your authority to question people is greater on property where you are on duty as a guard.
What are the Property Owner's Rights?
The owner of the property has the right to establish certain rules on his property that may not be a part of the Penal Code. For instance, if an employee shows up for work drunk, he may be violating a company rule. The client may want the employee sent home or may intend to fire him. How this situation is handled is between the employer and the employee, and has nothing to do with the police or public law. A SECURITY GUARD MUST KNOW WHAT THE COMPANY POLICY STATES.
Trying to enforce company policy could, however, result in a violation of public law, by you or by the employee.
For example, if the employee is asked to leave and refuses, he may be arrested for violating the public law against trespassing. On the other hand, if the guard uses unnecessary force in removing the employee from the premises, the guard may be arrested for violating the public laws against assault and battery.
How Should a Security Guard Handle Violations?
As a security guard, acting as a representative of the owner on the owner's private property, you can physically prevent a person from entering an area - but only as a last resort and without using excessive force. Be sure to check with your employer regarding the way to handle a violation of company rules as well as how to handle a violation of public laws.
A Basis for Making Decisions
The very nature of security work requires security personnel to be constantly aware of their surroundings, the law, and the mission of private security in today's society.
Three factors to consider when making timely and reasonable decisions are Facts, Law and Policy:
Consider the FACTS involved in the incident. The facts of any incident will be learned by answering the following questions:
WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? HOW? and possibly WHY?
Consider the LAWS that may apply to the incident. Has a city, county, state, or federal law been violated?
Consider any POLICY that may apply to the incident. What is the POLICY of your employer, client, or local law enforcement agencies regarding this incident?