A security officer (or security guard) is a person who is paid to protect property, assets, or people. They are usually privately and formally employed civilian personnel. Security officers are generally uniformed and act to protect property by maintaining a high-visibility presence to deter illegal and inappropriate actions, observing (either directly, through patrols, or by watching alarm systems or video cameras) for signs of crime, fire or disorder; then taking action and reporting any incidents to their client and emergency services as appropriate.
Many security firms and proprietary security departments practice the “detect, deter, observe and report” methodology. Security officers are not required to make arrests, but have the authority to make a citizen’s arrest, or otherwise act as an agent of law enforcement, for example, at the request of a police officer or sheriff.
A private security guards primary duty is the prevention and deterrence of crime. Security guard personnel enforce company rules and can act to protect lives and property, and they often have a contractual obligation to provide these actions. In addition to basic deterrence, security officers are often trained to perform specialized tasks such as arrest and control (including handcuffing and restraints), operate emergency equipment, perform first aid, CPR, take accurate notes, write detailed reports, and perform other tasks as required by the client they are serving.
All security guards / security officers are also required to go through additional training mandated by the state for the carrying of weapons such as batons, firearms, and pepper spray (e.g. the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services in California has requirements that a license for each item listed must be carried while on duty). Some security guards / security officers are required to complete police certification for special duties. Virginia training standards for security guards / security officers are identical to police training with regards to firearms (shotgun and handgun) but do not place licensing requirements for other items carried, only that training be provided that is documented. Several security guard companies have also become certified in RADAR and trained their sworn special police officers to use it on protected properties in conjunction with lights/sirens, allowing them to legally enforce traffic laws on private property.
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