Responsibilities of Security Officers
A security officer is assigned to protect specific people and property. This may include detecting some of the same offenses that would cause a peace officer (police officer) to act, such as fight or burglary. However, it would not include other offenses such as vehicle violations or prostitution.
For example, if you were on duty at a plant gate and you saw two teenagers having an auto race down a public road, you would not try to arrest them. You may decide to report it to the police if a telephone is nearby. Remember, you were hired to protect the plant- not to arrest speeders. [In fact you should be suspicious of any activity that may draw you away from your post. It could be a plan to draw your attention away from your duties.]
Peace officers are law enforcement officers, their duty is to enforce the law and preserve the public peace. If a law is violated, peace officers are required to pursue and apprehend the person responsible. This is not required or expected of a security officer!
REMEMBER, a peace officer’s responsibilities are different from a security officer’s responsibilities. SECURITY OFFICERS only protect specific people and property.
POLICE [PEACE OFFICER] protect people and property and enforce laws.
A security officer may also be responsible maintaining certain company policies. These could include:
- Requiring employees to show badges when entering the property; or
- Recording license plate numbers of vehicles entering or leaving; or
- Monitoring safety standards and reporting hazards: blocking exits, fire, safety, slippery floors, etc.
Prevention is the Key
For example, if you spotted some young people trying to climb a fence to private property you could shout at them or turn on the lights. Do anything lawful that would discourage their trespassing: don’t wait until they cross the fence so that you can confront them.
Another typical situation might be: A person intends to steal from a store but sees a uniformed officer on patrol. The person leaves the store without stealing anythinhg. The officer, simply by being there in uniform (command presence), has prevented a crime.
Observe and Report! Observe and Report! Observe and Report! Observe and Report!
If you can’t prevent an incident, the proper action is to observe and report. You should:
- Observe carefully and take accurate notes.
- Report immediately to the local law enforcement, and/or your supervisor.
Relations with Local Police
During an emergency, you may not interfere with peace officers who are on the scene of an incident at your company. Your role remains the protection of the clients or employer’s assets. Your job is made easier if you have a good working relationship with the local police; be respectful. A security officer may sometimes be directed by a police officer. As any other citizen, you must obey his commands. If a police officer asks you to leave your post, you CANNOT refuse.
Never play “cop.” You don’t have the legal authority to do the same things a peace officer can do. Any security officer who pretends or even implies [lets others think} that he is a peace officer may be committing an offense. The Penal Code, in Section 37.11 makes it an offense to falsely identify oneself as a peace officer (public servant). A person who is found guilty of impersonating a peace officer would be punished by a fine or county jail sentence, or both.
A peace officer is defined in the Texas Penal Code as a person elected, employed or appointed as a peace officer under Article 2.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- Common examples of this would be a Sheriff and their deputies, city police, state police (DPS), and constables.
- Peace officers are also considered Public Servants in the Penal Code.
- The Code of Criminal Procedure does not list a private security officer as a peace officer.
Your roles are different! A peace officer is charged with the enforcement of laws. A security officer is responsible for protecting specific people or property; his client’s or employer’s.
Remember you do not have:
- the same job duties as peace officers;
- the same training; or
- the same powers as peace officers, according to the law.
Don’t mislead people. Because of your uniform, badge, hat, or gear, some people may think you are a peace officer. Don’t do anything to encourage this false idea. Whenever the opportunity arises be sure to make it a point to let them know that you are not a peace officer, but a security officer.