Security guards are often compared to private police forces, and while they do share several similarities, there are major differences that set both groups apart.
Security guards can be hired by individuals or businesses and are obligated, often contractually, to act to protect the property, people or assets in their charge.
However, security officers are generally more focused on deterring disturbances before they occur by maintaining a very visible presence and monitoring premises through patrols, cameras and alarm systems.
Unlike police officers, security guards don’t have to make arrests, but they do have the authority to act as agents of law enforcements at the request of a sheriff or police officer and make citizen’s arrests.
Security guards are also called upon to play more of a customer service role than police officers, since many are appointed to guard entry points and have regular interactions with employees and clients.
All security companies require their employees to go through vigorous security guard courses and screening to become licensed, and the department that performs this licensing differs in each state or territory. Security guards can be cleared to use much of the same equipment that police officers do, but they usually have to be licensed for each piece of equipment.
In spite of these differences in duties and procedures, many employees of commercial security companies were previously employed as police, military personnel or federal agents, all the way up to senior management.
If you decide to hire a private security company, make sure you understand what their responsibilities are and what they’re allowed to do to protect your business. Security companies different, so if you’re looking for specific services, it’s best to shop around until you find a company that fits your needs.