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  • Private Security Authority Question...

    I went to Hilton Head, SC for vacation over the summer and stayed in a resort complex. In this resort complex there were marked patrol cars that said "resort name Security" on the side with light bars. They appeared to be standard issue crown victoria's, maybe bought second hand but still fairly new nonetheless. These cars had radar as well, shooting out of both the front and back, and they would sit in the grass, hide behind trees, etc... clocking people in the resort complex. The personnel had trooper hats, standard dark blue/black uniform with a badge, and all carried a weapon. Does this private security force have the authority to charge someone with an offense or pull someone over for speeding?

  • #2
    Not unless they're certified police officers. What they can do is call the "real" cops if there's a serious enough violation or, for the lesser stuff, ask you to leave and not return.
    “We don't disagree, you are wrong. Until you have a clue what you are talking about we can't disagree.” - cgh6366

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    • #3
      What happens is sometimes companies like that hire full time police officers to do that work and pay them handsomely for it. Guy's that make 15/hr working full time at the PD can make between 25 and 35 doing security details like that.

      Then when some [email protected] comes out with the rent a cop gig, they get to find out that the rent-a-cop is a real-cop.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bamaman View Post
        I went to Hilton Head, SC for vacation over the summer and stayed in a resort complex. In this resort complex there were marked patrol cars that said "resort name Security" on the side with light bars. They appeared to be standard issue crown victoria's, maybe bought second hand but still fairly new nonetheless. These cars had radar as well, shooting out of both the front and back, and they would sit in the grass, hide behind trees, etc... clocking people in the resort complex. The personnel had trooper hats, standard dark blue/black uniform with a badge, and all carried a weapon. Does this private security force have the authority to charge someone with an offense or pull someone over for speeding?
        My reply to your post is based on Alabama Law, and that could differ from South Carolina. In Alabama, a private security guard has very little authority, and no actual arrest powers. He is empowered to act as "an agent of the owner", but these powers are very limited. He can sign a warrant on an individual in the same manner as any other citizen. Unless the streets/roadways within the resort complex have been deeded over to a public entity(County-city) Title 32 Code of Alabama (Motor Vehicles&Traffic) does not apply. Many departments permit their Officers to work off-duty security gigs. Usually, these are worked wearing the department's normal duty uniform. There are many variables here, so it's really difficult to give you a "one size fits all" reply.

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        • #5
          Actually, private security forces employed by the resort (as opposed to rented security guards from a service) have MORE authority on their private property (for some misdemeanor or civil violations) than the police do - meaning, for example in the case of a business dispute or unwanted visitor, the police must be requested to intervein by the property before they can act. and then must leave if requested to do so.

          Private security has the authority to make a citizens arrest (depending upon state law) or to forcefully remove anyone they choose without having reason to do so. The police must have a violation of criminal law to do this - like tresspassing, etc.

          As to traffic radar, they wouldn't have authority to issue a court summons, but could fine or discipline employees or order visitors to leave if their driving was reckless - police cannot do this nor, can they issue court summons on private roadways not dedicated to public use
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          • #6
            There are several high end gated communities in the North Scottsdale (AZ) area that also employ a security force that patrols, responds to alarms, most calls for service (with exception to violent offences or calls with weapons involved) and runs traffic. They are not armed but will try to stop you for speeding, running stop signs or reckless driving. I doubt you would get arrested for not stopping for them but I would imagine they wouldn't let you back in the gate if you did. I know that they issue 'tickets' but they are actually fines against your home-owners rates causing them to go up. Don't pay your home owners fees and see how long you live there.

            Unless you are causing a problem, I wouldn't worry about them. They are there to try and keep the community safe. I don't see anything wrong with that.
            -918-

            Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18

            Clinging to my guns and religion since 1975

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            • #7
              I have no idea how it works in South Carolina. In North Carolina private security has little authority and no arrest power. There is no such thing as a citizen's arrest in NC, though citizens do have limited authority to detain for some offenses (and that would include security personnel).

              However, NC has what are called "company police". Basically, these are officers employed by a private entity that has formed a "Company Police Department". They attend the same training, hold the same certification, and have the same authority as public law enforcement officers. However, they are limited to enforcing laws on the property owned by their employer or where they are contracted to work. With the exception of campus police (who in some cases are considered "company police") company police cannot enforce anything on public roadways. Private roadways where they work do fall within their jurisdiction, and so do "public vehicular areas" owned by their employer. However, only a limited number of motor vehicle offenses apply on PVAs. Speeding is not one of them (although exceeding a safe speed is).
              -Landric

              "The Engine could still smile...it seemed to scare them"-Felix

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              • #8
                Interesting replies from everyone. Thanks. It seemed like every one of these resort complexes had this type of security detail, and I was just curious. Thanks again.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by bamaman View Post
                  I went to Hilton Head, SC for vacation over the summer and stayed in a resort complex. In this resort complex there were marked patrol cars that said "resort name Security" on the side with light bars. They appeared to be standard issue crown victoria's, maybe bought second hand but still fairly new nonetheless. These cars had radar as well, shooting out of both the front and back, and they would sit in the grass, hide behind trees, etc... clocking people in the resort complex. The personnel had trooper hats, standard dark blue/black uniform with a badge, and all carried a weapon. Does this private security force have the authority to charge someone with an offense or pull someone over for speeding?

                  Private security has the authority of the land owner, or in case of a private resort, the resort management. They have the power to pull law breakers over and detain them until the arrival of the police.

                  If they are sworn as Company Police or Conservators of the Peace, they CAN make an arrest within the boundaries of the private property, and take the suspect to the magistrate and jail, even though they work for a private company.

                  Every state has its own laws regarding authority to arrest or detain.
                  Politically Correct? No.

                  Truthful? Yes!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Landric View Post
                    They attend the same training, hold the same certification, and have the same authority as public law enforcement officers.

                    Same training? Wow. In VA you can get a Special Conservator of Peace certification in 5 days for an armed position. Same arrest powers on company grounds as a cop who went through a 7month long academy. There is a state legislator that wants to give these yahoos statewide jurisdiction. I guess we can disband VSP and save some money that way.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by GGG View Post
                      Same training? Wow. In VA you can get a Special Conservator of Peace certification in 5 days for an armed position. Same arrest powers on company grounds as a cop who went through a 7month long academy. There is a state legislator that wants to give these yahoos statewide jurisdiction. I guess we can disband VSP and save some money that way.
                      Yeah, in NC "company police officers" have to go to the same academy (we call it BLET here) as everyone else. The Company Police Act covers all company PD officers. Some campus officers are covered by the company police act, as are the rest of the various private agencies.
                      -Landric

                      "The Engine could still smile...it seemed to scare them"-Felix

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                      • #12
                        There are gated communities in Florida that have armed security. Those officers enforce the HOA rules for such things as speeding (use of radar). Tickets issued are charged to homeowners account, even if non-resident guest of homeowner.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by -918- View Post
                          There are several high end gated communities in the North Scottsdale (AZ) area that also employ a security force that patrols, responds to alarms, most calls for service (with exception to violent offences or calls with weapons involved) and runs traffic. They are not armed but will try to stop you for speeding, running stop signs or reckless driving. I doubt you would get arrested for not stopping for them but I would imagine they wouldn't let you back in the gate if you did. I know that they issue 'tickets' but they are actually fines against your home-owners rates causing them to go up. Don't pay your home owners fees and see how long you live there.

                          Unless you are causing a problem, I wouldn't worry about them. They are there to try and keep the community safe. I don't see anything wrong with that.
                          I've worked the jurisdiction around Scottsdale and know exactly what you're talking about, they are also all around Fountain Hills, Ahwautukee, Gold Canyon, etc. They are called SafeGuard Security, and they are the quintessential version of gated community security guards. It's in their policy to NEVER pursue or go after anyone. It's mostly made up of retirees or people that are bored.

                          But in arizona there are plenty of proactive security companies (that get into a host of trouble....) and have arrest powers due to citizen's arrest from Arizona's ARS - 13-3884. (Valley Protective Services, Elite Protective Services, Arizona Security Professionals)

                          These security cowboys, although....SOME, and little......do their jobs properly, the remaining crowd really makes the situation at times, worse. Sorry...but I had run ins with some of these overzealous wannabes (they are armed often and wear uniforms that resemble either deputies, or PD, depending on where they work....)
                          I like how they always seem to talk about guns around me or use "Law Enforcement lingo" as if they are really cops.

                          I don't hate security, in fact I used to *gulp* work in a proactive security company that promoted arrestable offenses and to get drugs/weapons off the properties we worked (mostly section 8 apt. housing).
                          But seriously, the majority of the police rejects couldn't make it further so they resorted to being wannabes and seriously got into some real big trouble and even had to be arrested on the other end....
                          Last edited by MCAPO; 09-11-2008, 07:16 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dinosaur32 View Post
                            There are gated communities in Florida that have armed security. Those officers enforce the HOA rules for such things as speeding (use of radar). Tickets issued are charged to homeowners account, even if non-resident guest of homeowner.
                            radar guns...interesting.


                            I've heard of one area in Texas where there is a vigilante group who have a section of the public road run into their private property and they have Crown Vics with the wording, blues and reds, code 3 everything....you name it, the people driving these cars also look like police....uniforms and everything, they also pull people over...i'll look on the net and find it, it's very odd and unusual that they could get away with this!

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                            • #15
                              I also found it odd when I was at Hilton Head that security was running radar. I was told by the hotel security and several officers that I met that they are allowed to issue tickets on property for motor vehicle violations and respond to alarm calls.

                              Nothing like that around my way other than (1) townhome community that does not allow us to enforce motor vehicle laws in the complex. They also tow improperly parked cars,which leads to a lot of calls for service. When we arrive, I provide them with a copy of the association guidelines that everyone is required to sign when they move in and tell them to complain to the association. Not a police issue.
                              Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.

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