The following material is directly from the Power To Arrest Manual from BSIS (Credit source: Power To Arrest Training Manual, BSIS, November 2005. A BSIS-licensed security training facility is required to provide the following material to all security guards as part of the guard card curriculum. A hardcopy paper copy will be provided in class. (Please observe this is current as of November 2005, the publication date. You need to take the course to ensure up-to-date information. Do not rely on this following information. This is a sample to provide you an idea of roles and responsibilities.)

It is important to remember:

  • As a security guard, you are NOT a peace officer!!!

How are security guards DIFFERENT from peace officers?

Security guards do not have:
  • The same job duties as peace officers;
  • The same training; or
  • The same powers as peace officers, according to the law.

What happens when a security guard PRETENDS to be a peace officer?

Any security guard who pretends or even implies (lets others think) that he is a peace officer is committing a crime. A person who is found guilty of impersonating a peace officer could be punished by a fine or county jail sentence and his registration may be denied or revoked.

What are a security guard's ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES?

  • A security guard's role is to PROTECT people and property of his employer or contracted clients.
  • A security guard's responsibility BEFORE an incident/offense has occurred is PREVENTION.
  • A security guard's responsibility DURING or AFTER an incident/offense has occurred is to OBSERVE and REPORT.

How should security guards PERFORM their job?

The major responsibility of a security guard is prevention BEFORE an incident/offense occurs. Thus, a security guard should be highly visible. By being seen, the guard may discourage anyone who might be considering theft, damage, or personal injury. A security guard's job is PREVENTION. To do the job well, the security guard MUST:
  • Be alert
  • Listen
  • Watch

What is a sign that a security guard is doing a good job?

The absence of incidents or offenses (crimes) is one sign that a security guard is doing a
good job.

What should a security guard do if an incident/offense does occur?

If an offense occurs, a guard does not charge in. Instead, the security guard should:
  • Stay calm
  • Observe and remember events
  • Report to the police/or the security guard's supervisor (fellow employer policy).



A security guard is assigned to protect specific people and property. This may include detecting some of the same offenses that would cause a peace officer to act, such as a fight or burglary. But it would not include other offenses such as motor vehicle traffic violations or prostitution.
For example, if you were on duty at a plant gate and you observed two teenagers having an auto race down a public road, you would not try to arrest them. You may decide to report it to the police if a telephone is nearby. But you were hired to protect the plant - not to arrest speeders.
(In fact, you should be suspicious of any activity that may draw you away from your post. It could be a plan to draw your attention away from your duties.)


Peace officers are law enforcement officers such as Sheriffs and their Deputies, Constables, Marshals, members of city police forces and other officers whose duty is toenforce the law and preserve the public peace. If a law is violated, peace officers are required to pursue and apprehend the person responsible. This is not required of a security guard!
REMEMBER, a peace officer's responsibilities are different from a security guard's responsibilities.
  • SECURITY GUARDS only protect specific people and property.
  • POLICE (PEACE OFFICERS) protect all people and all property and enforce laws.


A security guard may be responsible for maintaining certain company rules establishedby the client (company). These could include:
  • Requiring employees to show their badges when entering the property; or
  • Inspecting lunch pails as employees leave the plant; or
  • Monitoring safety standards and reporting hazards; blocked exits, fire safety, slippery floors, etc.
A guard's supervisor or the client (company) will give him instructions on helping employees observe company rules and policies.


The security guard's concern is to protect persons and prevent damage or destruction to property. PREVENTION is the key word.

For example, if you spotted some young people trying to climb a fence to enter private property, you should shout at them or turn on the lights. Do anything lawful that would discourage their trespassing, don't wait until they cross the fence so you can arrest them.

Another typical situation might be: A person intends to steal from a store, but suddenly sees a uniformed security guard on patrol. The person leaves the store without stealing anything. The guard, simply by being in uniform, has prevented a crime.


If you can't prevent an incident, the proper action is to observe and report. You should:

  • Observe carefully and
  • Report immediately to the local law enforcement and/or your supervisor.


If a serious offense, such as robbery, burglary, or assault with a deadly weapon, has been committed, you will need help to apprehend the suspect.

CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY. Even police who are trained to make forcible arrests are encouraged to call for help in dangerous situations.

Sample situations:

#1: You are patrolling the grounds of a factory at 2:00 a.m. and see two armed adults entering the stock room. What should you do? (You should call the police, then observeand report.)
#2: While you are guarding a sporting goods store, a man runs out of the store. Ten seconds later, the owner runs to you and says there has been a robbery. What should you do? (Have the owner call the police, then observe and report.)
#3: You are patrolling a store parking lot. A shopper loads Christmas gifts into a station wagon parked in the lot and goes back to do more shopping. The windows of the wagon are open, and three boys are gathered around the station wagon looking in. What should you do? (You should try to prevent a possible theft by making your presence known.)
#4: You are on guard in a jewelry store. An employee showing diamond rings to a customer is called to the telephone. The customer is left alone with the display box of diamond rings. What should you do? (You should try to discourage a theft by making yourpresence known.)

Credit Source: Power To Arrest, BSIS, November 2005. This is material to be provided to all California security guards as part of their guard card training.


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