Many businesses have difficulty choosing between hiring off-duty police officers or entering a contract for private security services. We had a customer that was considering security service for his business in Baltimore, MD that was torn between the two options. Many questions enter the mind. Aren’t police better trained? Does it really matter? Which is better for me? Are security guard companies easier to fire? The answer to all of the questions is the same…it depends on your situation.The most important question to ask is do you have ongoing violent criminal activity?
Police officers are tasked with enforcing the law. Their training is focused largely on enforcement versus prevention. Their primary tool for preventing crime is firm enforcement. In fact they are often referred to as law enforcement officers. When law enforcement officers are placed in positions that focus on prevention they tend to either do too much or too little. An example of too much is when they treat the customers of the businesses they are protecting like criminal suspects. This can have a negative impact on the businesses they are protecting. Some of these customers may be people who may have had negative encounters with the police and feel uncomfortable making purchases as they are being watched in such a manner. On the other hand some police officers wait until a crime is actually committed to act. This is an example of doing too little. Their departmental regulations and training pertaining to probable cause can conflict with the interests of the business they are protecting. In a similar situation a security officer can act on behalf of the client for no other reason other than that is what their client wants. They do not have to wait until a crime happens.
Companies offering security guard services
Companies offering security guard services make significant investments in training their guards to prevent crime. Prevention is their focus. Security personnel are trained to prevent crime by being present and documenting activity to serve as extra eyes and ears for businesses. They can also report their observations to law enforcement in cases where criminal activity has been observed. Security guard services are focused on prevention. When placed in situations with high levels of ongoing violent crime a private security is usually not the best option. This is primarily because personnel from security guard companies lack the training, legislative protections and legal authority needed to enforce the law. Security service companies are mindful of the impact their actions can have on the liability of the client and the company. There are legal limitations in place that prevent security officers from engaging in enforcement activity. The specific guidelines are determined by the jurisdiction the security guard is working. Here is some examples of how different the regulations can be:
In Maryland unarmed and armed security officers have no arrest authority other than citizens arrest authority.
In Virginia, unarmed officers have citizens arrest authority. However, armed security officers have full arrest authority that is written into the state constitution.
Washington DC Security Regulations
In Washington DC, armed private security guards are called Special Police Officees (SPO). SPOs have full arrest authority. However, they are not trained to the same degree as metropolitan police officers. SPOs have much higher authority when compared the Washington DC Security officers (SO) who have no arrest authority.
Security guard companies stay aware of the applicable regulations that apply to any company providing security guard services. They must stay aware of the regulations governing their industry. Top security guard companies train their staff to be aware of the regulations guiding the jurisdictions in which they operate and provide them with all of the tools necessary to be effective. Security guard companies provide guards that provide an effective solution to prevent criminal activity. However, guards tend not to be the best solution for situations with ongoing violent criminal activity. This is the case regardless of which which company you choose for security service. The conclusion: Police officers are trained to enforce the law. Security guards are trained to prevent crime. The primary question: Is there any ongoing violent criminal activity? If yes, call the police. If no, you should contact a security guard company. There are many security guard companies to choose between. Of course we recommend this company.