When a security officer uses excessive force to apprehend or detain a person, injury and even wrongful death may result. Security guards, armed, or unarmed, do not possess the same arrest powers or rights to use force as a sworn police officer.
Security Guards Are not Police Officers
Security guards are typically given the responsibility to ensure public safety, similar to police officers. However, they are usually not required to go through the training that is provided to police. Without thorough law enforcement education or training, security personnel often lack the skills, judgment, and restraint that enable them to apprehend a person without causing injury.
Unlike the intensive twelve-week course required for police certification in Tennessee, the basic requirements for security officers mandates that an armed guard must be twenty-one years old, have a clean criminal record and pass seven hours of training. An unarmed guard must be eighteen and only has to pass a four-hour training course. In many cases, they can temporarily begin work before the training is completed.
Recognizing Excessive Force
The force guards use to detain an arrested person until police arrive may be excessive if it causes any injury to another. And while police officers have broad arrest powers to enforce laws and may use necessary force in doing so, a security officer is a private citizen and holds no police authority. The amount and type of force allowed to be used by security officers is generally equal to the force being exerted by the wrongdoer. Like any citizen, security guards may only lawfully use force to protect their property, themselves or another person from harm.
In an excessive force case, a personal injury lawyer will first establish whether the guard used unreasonable and unnecessary force. The attorney will want to know:
- What injuries were sustained by the victim
- What force the guard used
- If the victim resisted the arrest or used force against the guard
- Whether the victim tried to flee the scene
- If there were witnesses to the incident
If it can be proven that the security guard injured a victim using excessive force, the injury lawyer can seek damages on behalf of the victim. If a court finds in favor of the victim, it may award compensation for medical costs, pain suffering and lost income.