Legal Rights of a Security Guard


In most states, a security guard has only one right that people without security guard licenses have: the right to work as a security guard. However, the rights of citizen's arrest, bearing arms and acting in agency—all rights common to every citizen without a felony conviction—are especially important to the day-to-day work of a security guard. In some cases, those rights extend further for security guards than for unlicensed citizens.

Working as a Security Guard

  • Many states require special licensing in order to work as a security professional. There are certifications for unarmed security, armed (firearm) security and individual certifications for various tools of the trade like handcuffs and batons. Without a security license, and the training that precedes it, you can't work as a security guard. Even in states where you can, employers often prefer to work with certified personnel for liability reasons.

Citizen's Arrest

  • Security guards don't have special rights of arrest like fully sworn law enforcement officers. They have the same right of citizen's arrest that we all do. However, they have the training, backup, tools and often the holding space to successfully arrest a citizen they find breaking the law. Also, because security guards occasionally arrest somebody as part of their job, the police who show up to take the arrestee into custody tend to take the arrest more seriously.

Bearing Arms

  • Security guard licensing for a weapon gives the guard the right to carry that weapon on the job. This is even true in states or cities that restrict the open carrying of weapons for unlicensed civilians. Note that training with one weapon does not give the right to carry other weapons, nor does it always mean the security guard can carry those weapons when not performing his job duties.

Acting in Agency

  • In theory, the only person allowed to tell you to leave a property is the person who owns the property. Acting in agency in this case means telling somebody to leave, or how to behave on, a property on behalf of the person who actually owns it. This is a right all citizens have, as any Denny's manager will tell you. However, like a citizen's arrest, security guards have the training and tools to insist.

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