According to our legal system a person is innocent until proven guilty. It is up to the court to determine if a person is guilty, not the police. When a person is arrested, he is called a suspect. He is then considered a suspect until the court finds him guilty or innocent. Therefore, do not refer to an arrested person as the criminal, the offender, the murderer, the robber, burglar are by any other term which Implies guilt. You can say he, she, they, this person, or the suspect, since none of these terms implies guilt.
• Making an Arrest
If you should happen to be in a situation where an arrest is called for, you must tell the person he is under arrest, the charges, and by what authority you act. Once you effect the arrest [i.e. deprive him of his liberty or freedom of movement] you cannot discharge him from it; only a magistrate can do that. If he resists you must then decide if reasonable force is necessary.
If you are legally detaining a person you have the right to conduct a “frisk” of that person for your safety. Remember that you must be able to justify the “frisk” of that person as it relates to your safety. A frisk” is deemed as a “pat-down” search of a suspect designed to discover weapons, not to recover contraband. A FRISK IS NOT A FULL SCALE SEARCH OF THE PERSON.
• Use of Force in an Arrest – Article 15.24 [T.C.C.P]
If the suspect resists, you are permitted to use no greater force that is necessary to affect his detention and arrest. A judge or jury will have the final say as to whether or not you acted reasonably.
Examples of excessive force include:
• Knocking unconscious and unarmed suspect when he is only trying to leave the scene. Handcuffs may be used on persons who have resisted or on suspects you think may be trying to resist or escape.
• Using physical force against someone who is only verbally provoking you. As a security officer you will have to deflect and ignore rude comments.
• Arrest or Detainment
A person who voluntarily responds to questioning and is not actually restrained [i.e. free to go at any time] is considered to be detained. A person may be detained by the police for further questioning in an investigation, and that person is not necessarily under arrest. While the police may do this, a private citizen [including a security officer] cannot, unless he is investigating a probable theft and then the detention must only be for a reasonable period of time.
It should be clear to the suspect that he is under arrest after you have communicated your intent to arrest him and affect a detention that is actual or constructive. However, there are also other actions that may make a suspect feel that he is under arrest. If, because of your uniform, badge, hat or words the suspect concludes he must answer your questions, or is not free to walk away, he may justifiably claim that he was arrested.
Guilty by association is not a lawful way to make an arrest. Let’s look at an example:
It’s 11:00 pm and, while making his rounds, a security officer finds a gate open. There are pry marks on the chain. About 50 yards from the gate is an old pickup truck parked by the side of the road. The hood is up and two men are bent over the engine. The officer walks over and says, “All right, you guys, what are you doing here?” One of the men responds, “What’s it to you pal?” The officer answers angrily, “Look you had better tell me what you are doing here or you’re in trouble!” One of the men gets in the truck and tries to start it. The officer then asks, “Didn’t you hear what I said?” The other man says “Leave us alone.” The officer moves to the front of the truck and grabs the man’s arm, stating, “You guys aren’t going anywhere until you answer a few questions.”
Analysis: Finding the gate open with pry marks does not necessarily mean there has been a crime. Next there is nothing to tie the two men in the truck to any alleged crime. Furthermore, the security officer cannot demand the men answer his questions. By his action the officer could well have caused the men to believe they were under arrest, particularly when the officer assaulted the man by grabbing his arm.
What should the security officer have done?
First he should take complete notes to include description of the condition of the gate and report his observations to his supervisor. If he can approach the two men without leaving his post unprotected he should do so in a friendly manner. An accusatory approach seldom gets good results.
• A better Approach:
Remember that you are seeking the information that they have; it your responsibility to get them to talk to you and that does not happen when you are hostile. Most people have a difficult time refusing a request for help. Let’s try this approach!
“Hi! Got car troubles?” One of the men replies, “Yeah! This darn thing shorts out every once in a while.” The officer then says, “I need some help, I found a gate open a few minutes ago, have you seen anybody around the gate?” The men reply, “No, we haven’t seen anybody but you.” The officer asks, “How long you guys been broken down?” “Oh, maybe five minutes.” “Well, thanks for your help, if you need to call for road service, I can make the call for you.” “Thanks anyway but we’ll get it going.” The officer then walks away. The security officer may not have gotten much information, but at least he had a chance to observe each man closely and check their activities without running the risk. of bad public relations or a false arrest suit.
The security officer may not have gotten much information, but at least he had a chance to observe each man closely and check their activities without running the risk of bad public relations or a false arrest suit