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The Uncomfortable Truth Behind “Observe and Report”

This is in response to the following article:

Is Observe & Report Obsolete for Today's Security Officers?

I really do not like picking apart other work, but this one is potentially dangerous.


First, a little background; I am a licensed Security Officer in the State of Florida. I have 16 years experience in security operations, both military and civilian.


Florida’s Security Officer Handbook page 13 states: “VII. USE OF FORCE

Licensed security officers are not law enforcement officers and are not granted any police powers regarding arrest or use of force. Section 493.6118(1)(i), F.S.”


Training agencies go to great lengths to explain Qualified Immunity (QI). This is defined as: a legal doctrine in United States federal law that shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions performed within their official capacity, unless their actions violated "clearly established" federal law or constitutional rights.


In other words, Law Enforcement has legal protections that Security Guards do not.

A Security Guard making a Citizen’s Arrest (remember Florida Law says that Security Personnel are “not granted any police powers regarding arrest”) can be held criminally and civilly liable for actions taken.


For example: A Security Guard detains a suspect for trespassing, but the D.A. declines to prosecute. The detainee can sue the Guard and Employer for false arrest and/or false imprisonment.

https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/false-arrest.cfm

“A private person, such as a private security guard, can also commit the crime of false arrest. Someone who restrains someone else, without that person’s consent, and without lawful authority, commits the crime of false arrest, often known as false imprisonment.”


Very few individual guards, and fewer companies wish to open themselves to Civil Liability, therefore most Security Officer Training has bullet points such as:

· Observe and Report

· Write down as much as detail as possible as soon as possible

· Be a good witness


As the article states, security has a very high turnover rate (the cited figure is 100 – 400%). Security Guards are generally low income. The most I have seen for an unarmed guard is $18 per hour. No one is going to jeopardize his or her livelihood for that amount.


Security personnel have limited training; companies have limited resources for training. Let’s be honest here, if you have 100% turnover, you are not going to invest much into your employees.


There are Tier-1 Security Firms. They have names like Triple Canopy, Academi, and Executive Outcomes. They are not inexpensive security options, very few clients have the need or financial ability to contract with these firms.


If the author wishes Security Guards to be proactive, there needs to be some changes in Qualified Immunity.

“Sometimes you need to go above and beyond what your post orders say in order to protect the lives and assets of the client that you’re protecting,” said Robert Sollars, an author, security consultant, and expert on workplace violence. He added “There’s always an opportunity to either de-escalate or talk them down from doing what they’re doing.”

The way to de-escalate an active shooter is a high velocity projectile through the T-box. This separates the medulla oblongata from the spinal cord, ceasing all autonomous nerve function, thereby ending the threat.


Very few security guards have the training and skills to perform at that level. Many Law Enforcement Officers cannot.

I would be hard pressed to perform at that level and I have been a competitive shooter for 20 years. Tier-1 Operators, such as Seal Team 6 spend an inordinate sum on training and readiness, more than most security companies pay out in employee wages.

I would not ask a security guard to do what Law Enforcement has no obligation to.

Law Enforcement has no duty to protect an individual, or a Duty to Act.

Davidson v. Westminster

Warren v. District of Columbia

DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services

CASTLE ROCK V. GONZALES

This most recently displayed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The lawsuit filed by MSD students against Broward County was dismissed, citing the cases presented here (Washington Post).


The question then becomes, why should a contract security guard be held to a higher standard than a sworn Law Enforcement Officer? That is a highly unfair expectation, especially in light of case law.

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