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Security Co. w/ Patrol Divisions

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  • Security Co. w/ Patrol Divisions

    After seeing some of the comments about security companies that feel the need to put lights on their cars in the thread about flashing courtesy lights, I wanted to ask another question. Some of the security companies with patrol divisions in my area have outfitted their cars with light bars, take down lights, arrow sticks, etc... Basically, all of the stuff that you would normally find on a police cruiser, only these are security companies. The lights that they're using are all the right colors to be perfectly legal under Wisconsin State statutes, but at a quick glance the vehicles appear to be police cruisers. That has led to some confusion for people I know. For example, one company patrols a series of low income apartment/condo complexes nearby. I've worked with several people who have lived in this complex. On several occasions when they've been telling stories about stuff that's happened in the complex, they've referred to this security company that patrols the complex as the police or the cops. In one case, a woman left her car unlocked and went inside of her apartment briefly to get something. From inside she saw someone going through her car. She ran out but by that time the perp had fled and was no where to be seen. She saw one of these security company patrol units coming down the road and flagged it down. She told the guy what had happened, but he did little to help her. He told her to call the police, that he would keep an eye out for the perp, and then he drove off. She went back in, never called the police, assumed that the guy was going to come back to take a full report, and as time went on she became hopping mad when no one ever came back. When I saw her at work a couple days later she told me the story and asked me for my opinion on what she should do. She wanted to file a complaint with the police department against the officer for driving away on her, and also because no one ever came back to take a report. I had an idea of what had happened almost immediately after hearing the complete story. So, I went up to our office, went to the security company's website and printed out a picture of one of the companies squads. I took it back down to the lady and showed it to her. She recognized it right away and said that was what the squad car she saw looked like. I told her that it wasn't the police, that it was just a security company contracted to patrol the complex. She didn't understand completely, even after I explained it to her several times. Granted, she isn't the brightest apple in the tree, but if she confused the two, I wonder if it's possible that other people might be getting confused too. This isn't the only company that's doing it either. I saw one car the other day that had more strobe lights on it than a pace car at the Indy 500. And another company that I just started seeing recently has a paint job that looked more like what I saw today down at the Daytona 500 than what I'd expect to see patrolling a shopping center. I guess I'm just wondering if all of that's necessary. I understand that a shopping center or apt. complex that hires a company to patrol their property wants the security vehicles to be visible. That's the reason that they're there. But is there a point where they've gone too far? Especially when they're being confused with the police? I don't know... Just me rambling on and being bored tonight I guess, but anyone else got any thoughts on this?
    Better Every Day!

  • #2
    From the sound of it, you're talking about Madison. I agree with you completely. Some of these guys are WAY OUT OF CONTROL. I've heard some of the MAPD sergeants are cracking down on them in some areas, but not enough to be totally worthwhile. These guys need to be reigned in. I think they're doing a good service, but to a large extent are also being a problem for police/community relations due to their poor skills/education/training. I'm really surprised the WSP hasn't gotten onto some of these companies for their use of red lights in their light bars, imho, that is criminal and should be dealt with to prevent future confusion/incidents.
    Nobody ever wants to have to fight, but its a darn good idea for someone to know how.

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    • #3
      We have a lot of security companies that driver "marked" cars. Sometimes it is pretty obvious that they are security as the car is the original Lumina or a Chrysler K car. But a lot of them buy old County cars and deck them out. In Indiana, our county sheriffs driver two tone, brown/tan squads. They keep pretty new fleets around here so they are always auctioning off older cars. Thus the security crowd buys them up.
      It is not uncommon to see these rolling decked out with all sort of antennas (I think they have a direct link to the NWS).

      The flip side of that is the security at one of our major hospital complexes. Several hospitals have united under the banner Clarian Health. They have a security force, some driving in marked cars (white Crown Vics and Impalas). They wear brown and tan uniforms with a 6 pointed silver star. Our county deputies where brown/tan with a 5 pointed star. What is ironic is that the hospital complex is on IPD jurisdiction and we where navy blue, but we do drive white cars. These guys drive around with red/white lights on their cars which is pushing state law in my opionion. They are not exactly medical/fire personnel.

      I have heard stories of them conducting traffic stops, but have never seen it myself. They are outfitted with guns and gunbelts and look like real police but have no police powers. They are often helpful but on occasion are confusing to the public and unaware of what kind of action they can or should take.
      Do your best, do what is right

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      • #4
        I was in Madison a few years ago. A guy walked on the elevator. He had on a uniform, duty belt with gun. He had all kinds of ribbons on his uniform, one of them said assistant chief. His badge said officer.

        I asked him what department he worked for. He told me the name of the security company. Nowhere on his uniform did he have security. Being a cop, I was suspicous...I can see where a citizen would believe he was a cop and ask him for help. Then the citizen may not receive the correct help because he may or may not be properly trained.

        There should be a law. Amber lights, no metal badges and security plainly visible on their uniforms.
        Drug Recognition Expert

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        • #5
          Our company= Silver Toyota Echoes with no lights of any kind. Company logo on both doors and the words SECURITY COURIER across the back. They look nothing like LEOs. Our armored trucks also have no lights.

          Our uniforms patch and badge both say Security. Equipment is limited to cuffs, flashlights, glove pouches, multi-tools, radios and cell phones and of course guns for the armed guys. No OC or ASPs. Light blue shirt and black pants, gold badge and name tag. From a distance we look more like EMTS/Paramedics than cops.

          It's illegal to have the lights. I guess we could use amber. But what for? Hazard lights work just fine for the few times you need them.
          Also Texas State law says it has to say SECURITY somewhere on the uniform. I personally would rather where a polo shirt with SECURITY on it or something. But I guess that would not be a good enough VISUAL DETERRENT.
          There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.

          Steven Wright

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          • #6
            If a security guard is actively impersonating a police officer, that is wrong and should be dealt with accordingly. That said, it's not the guard's fault if some citizen is too stupid to read what is on the side of a car or what a badge says. PioSop, in the situation that you described, the guard didn't even do anything wrong. He didn't tell her that he was a cop, he even told here to call the real cops. If she chose not to listen, it's her own fault.

            If a private company wants to put uniformed, armed personnel on their property, that is their perogative. As long as they do not put anything on their vehicles or uniforms that identifies them as law enforcement then they are doing nothing wrong. I don't know why a company wouldn't want their people wearing security patches, as that is more advertising for them and would cause less confusion. I don't see how the matierial that a badge is made out of makes any difference, as it is what is written on the badge that matters. Most police departments around here have even gone away from metal badges on patrol (Class B) uniforms.

            That goes along the same lines of the cars that are 'marked.' If I ran a security company, I think that I would want to put its name, logo and phone number all over the car. It's easy, effective advertising.

            [ 02-17-2003, 04:30 PM: Message edited by: PatrickM98 ]

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            • #7
              I'm actually in the Milwaukee area, but in my trips out to Madison I've noticed the same thing. I'm not really questioning whether a security company has the right to put their people in uniforms or to put their company logo on the side of their cars. Like I said in my first post, I think that it's somewhat necessary to do that just to make it known that they're there...visibility. I'm also not questioning whether the security guy did anything wrong in the situation that I described. I think that he did all that he probably was able to do under the circumstances. At the same time, however, I think that some of these companies have pushed the limits a little bit to make themselves look as close to the police as possible and some of the public may not be 100% clear on who's who anymore. Take the following picture for example. I know that I can read the side of the car and figure out that it's not the police, but when someone's excited and not thinking clearly, are they going to be able to figure that out?

               -

              Keep in mind that this company also has their people in LE style uniforms with a full duty belt, and they equip their cars with MDTs, prisoner cages, and 12 Ga. shotguns. I really don't want to pick on this one company because they've done a decent job in helping to clean up some of the housing projects around here, but they're the only folks that actually have a website full of info and pics. There are others out there just like them who don't do anywhere near as good of a job. I just got to thinking that it might be little confusing to the general public.

              [ 02-17-2003, 05:03 PM: Message edited by: PioSop9300 ]
              Better Every Day!

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              • #8
                One of my wife's friends is a Madison cop assigned to one of the "less-desirable" areas of the city, where many of the apartment complexes have armed security guards. I recently did a ridealong there and there seemed to be a pretty good relationship between the cops and the security guards. In fact, the night I rode along, one of the security guards turned over hundreds of rounds of 7.62 FMJ ammo she found hidden in the basement of one of the buildings.

                Like anything, I suspect that the merits of security personnel are determined more by the individual than the position they hold. There ARE good security people, that follow the rules and know their boundaries. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of bad ones, that tend to tarnish the image of the better ones.
                Caution and worry never accomplished anything.

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                • #9
                  Damn, that does look like a cop. I don't see the word security anywhere on it.

                  Public Safety ? Could be DPS in Texas.

                  I can see how that would be confusing.
                  There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.

                  Steven Wright

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                  • #10
                    Yeah, that car does push it a little bit, especially with those red lights.

                    I'm curious PioSop, do those security guards have any type of LEO powers? Some states allow for 'special officer' status for security people in certain places. Such people can make arrests and do other things that only LEOs could do otherwise, but they can only do so while on duty.

                    Looking at their website, it says that their "Police Division" is Wisconsin Certified. Now I don't know anything about WI laws, but maybe that means they have some sort of enforcement power?

                    [ 02-17-2003, 05:42 PM: Message edited by: PatrickM98 ]

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                    • #11
                      quote:
                      Originally posted by PatrickM98:

                      Looking at their website, it says that their "Police Division" is Wisconsin Certified. Now I don't know anything about WI laws, but maybe that means they have some sort of enforcement power?

                      There really isn't any type of additional certification for security personnel that would give them enforcement powers, at least to my knowledge. From what I could find in our statutes, all security companies and the employees that they hire have to have appropriate permits, but that's about it. I don't know exactly what they mean by Wisconsin Certified though. I looked them up in the phone book and they have two ads in. One is for their security business itself. The other is for thier "Security Police Training Academies". In the latter ad they list the things that they train you in:
                      • Armed/Unarmed Instruction
                      • O.C. Spray Certification
                      • DAAT
                      • Firearm Safety & Certification
                      • CPR/First-Aid, First Responder
                      • Self-Defense Instruction
                      To me it seems like they're a pretty legitimate company that takes the security business very seriously, unlike some of their competitors. But some of the people that do know who they are say that all they really do in a lot of these areas is drive around, and occasionally get out of their vehicle to post a parking warning (not ticket) on vehicles that are illegally parked at these complexes. Oh well... I think I've thought about this too much!
                      Better Every Day!

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                      • #12
                        quote:
                        I guess we could use amber. But what for? Hazard lights work just fine for the few times you need them.


                        That sure seems to me like it's enough. While I have no problem with security guards or guard companines in general, I think that way too many of them are "wannabes" that just couldn't make it. And when they start really trying to look like cops, then they have pushed it too far.

                        I've actually been in a couple of positions where I was damn glad to have a "security guard" on scene for the extra pair of hands. But I've also seen it go the other way.

                        I don't think they have any business driving a car that could easily be taken for a marked police radio car. I think it is putting the guy driving it, in unnecessary prediciments.
                        6P1 (retired)

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                        • #13
                          We have the same thing down here. When I started on the police department the only radio we had was in the police car. We had a .38 and once you left the car you was on your own. No portables. I have to laugh at some of the things they have on the security company cars to patrol a parking lot. The most amusing thing is they have more equipment on their gun belts than the police officers that patrol the worst parts of the city. [Wink]
                          Stay safe and watch your back. Survived Katrina. Now a Official member of the Chocolate City Police.

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