Big, burly, and intimidating looking. For most business owners, their first attempt at hiring a security guard usually involves choosing a man that is just that. Large in stature and physically threatening looking. The assumption is if a potential thief sees a muscular person standing in their store or office, they will think twice before stealing an article or threatening a customer. Unfortunately, many business owners never do the proper research to learn what a security guard can do and how he or she can help protect a business.
What does a security guard have the authority to do in Texas?
The legal limitations of a security guard are not federally regulated. Instead, they are controlled by each state. To call yourself a security guard in the state of Texas, you must possess a license. All security officers must go through extensive training overseen by the Texas Department of Public Safety. It is throughout that training they learn about what they can and cannot do.
Security officers have the right to make arrests. According to the Texas Administrative Code, a security guard can detain an individual if they witness a felony offense. For example, if a security guard has observed an individual picking up, concealing, and leaving the store with merchandise, then they have the right to ask that person to stay behind for further questioning.
The guard can detain the individual in a ‘reasonable manner,’ and that means using handcuffs only when it is deemed necessary in his or her judgement. A pat-down of the suspect is allowable to determine whether or not that individual is carrying a weapon. It is also permissible to request identification from the suspect who has been detained. A “reasonable manner” does not mean the security guard can use improper handcuff use, choking, foul language, verbal threats, discriminatory slurs, or any physical pain.
The code also states that as soon as possible, the guard is to contact the police to alert them so they may come to make the actual arrest.
2. Carry Weapons
There are two types of security guards in Texas, commissioned and non-commissioned. Commissioned guards have the right to carry guns. To do so, they must undergo a much more stringent set of tests and evaluations than their unarmed counterparts. It’s up to you, the business owner, to decide if your company requires an armed or unarmed guard. This may depend entirely on the type of operation that you run (i.e., jewelry versus bookstore). Make sure you do the necessary research and ask the questions you need to ensure you’re hiring the right type of security guard.
3. Search Property
Security guards do have the right to search your customers’ personal property. Specifically, they can perform what is called store-exit bag checks. These are voluntary searches of customers’ bags as they’re leaving the store. The security guard can check the person’s receipt against the contents of their bag. The goal is to make sure nothing has been shoplifted. This is one of the most effective and popular ways to use security guards in business, especially if it is a retail shop where items are available for sale on shelves.
They also have the right to search property if it is left unattended in suspicious circumstances. For example, if the security guard notices a bag has been left unattended, they can look through it to make sure there is nothing dangerous about it. Or they can search the personal property of an individual in an emergency situation (i.e., the person is unconscious) to identify them.
This is why many hotels and other business owners who operate in beachfront communities are increasingly hiring private security firms such as Ranger Guard. By patrolling their property, Ranger Guard can ensure it’s paying customers who have access to the amenities designed by businesses to meet their clients’ needs.
Perhaps one of the best ways to deter crime and vandalism is by preventing trespassers. Often, having someone leave your business under trespassing is truly preventing other crimes such as drug dealing, prostitution, robbery, loitering, or burglary. Having a security guard present to take care of the problem and preventing additional crimes or issues is why many business owners hire security in the first place.
A final word about security guards
From preventing trespassers and searching personal property to detaining criminals, there are many things that security guards can do in the state of Texas. As a business owner, it is your job to determine why you feel you need this type of added security and then do your research. Make sure you ask the right questions and take your time to learn what a security guard can do for your business.