You were just leaving your friend’s apartment after a pleasant visit or walking back to your vehicle in the parking lot of the store. All of a sudden, you face an aggressive security officer who claims that you somehow broke the law.
After trying to talk with them calmly, you decide that you want to just leave. That’s when they put their hands on you, knock you to the ground or pull out a weapon and threaten you.
Those behaviors would constitute assault if someone not working in the security industry committed them. It’s important that you understand that a security officer does not have the blanket right to physically assault or threaten people while performing their job.
What can security guards do?
When a business hires security guards either directly or through a service, they will typically indicate what level of enforcement they believe is necessary. At some locations, security guards just routinely patrol on foot to deter shoplifting or misconduct.
Security guards may monitor camera feeds and other technological devices installed to deter crime. In cases where they catch a shoplifter in the act or intervene in an assault in progress, even an unarmed security officer could factually state they suspect someone of a criminal act and place them under citizen’s arrest.
However, some security guards like to act like they are the police. They may threaten or intimidate people with firearms or non-lethal weapons, like tasers. They may become unnecessarily confrontational or physically aggressive without having probable cause of a crime occurring. In some cases, they might even commit a criminal act and then try to blame it on the responsibilities of their job.
Security guards and businesses have a responsibility to their patrons
Businesses absolutely need to invest in security to keep their workers and visitors safe. However, they also need to make sure that they have proper rules in place for security professionals so that they don’t violate the rights of their visitors.
There have been scenarios where security guards have faced criminal charges for actions such as knocking someone to the ground or brandishing a weapon during an unnecessarily aggressive confrontation.
Businesses can also face legal claims by the victims of security guard misconduct. Especially if the security guard has a history of overzealous behavior, the business may be responsible if they hurt or traumatize patrons. Understanding how security guard misconduct could be the responsibility of a property owner can help you seek justice if a security guard victimizes you.