Do Security Officers Have Arrest Powers?
With the unfortunate decreases in manpower inside the New Orleans Police Department, many businesses and neighborhoods are looking to private security to supplement the loss of police presence. These security officers are increasingly being called upon to perform security details at commercial establishments, as well as security patrols in neighborhoods throughout the city. With this increased awareness in the community about the security services private security companies can provide, also comes a question… Do security officers have arrest powers?
There is a lot of misconception, and misinformation, about the answer to that question. Most people believe that a security officer’s power to arrest is no greater than that of a citizen (citizen’s arrest), which grants anyone the power to detain someone for a felony crime that they witness. While this is true in many cities across the nation, it is not the case in the City of New Orleans.
In New Orleans, armed security officers must submit to an additional background conducted by the NOPD and receive a Special Officers Commission from the department’s Special Officers Division. What may not be well known, is that this commission gives the security officer Deputized Arrest Powers while they are on duty and at their place of assignment or patrol beat. It gives them powers to detain and arrest anyone they witness committing a felony or misdemeanor crime, as well as anyone that a credible witness points out to them that has committed a felony or misdemeanor crime. The security officer may detain, handcuff, and conduct a pat down of the individual for weapons. The only limitation is that the security officer cannot conduct a “search incident to arrest” of the individual’s pockets or belongings. The security officer is then required to contact the NOPD, who takes over the investigation at that point and can request that the security officer assist in any way.
While these arrest powers greatly enhance the effectiveness of the security services provided by a company, they have traditionally not been utilized. This is because the large majority of security companies operating in New Orleans employ “security guards” that have no experience or training in effectively evaluating a situation, investigating a crime, and determining the need for an arrest. Those companies encourage their officers to strictly be observers and not engage criminal activity.
At Pinnacle Security and Investigation, we take a different approach and our business model is much more progressive. We believe that our strict hiring standards that require all of our security officers to be current or former law enforcement professionals, allows us to leverage the arrest powers issued by the NOPD Special Officer’s Commission and bring added value to our clients. Our officers have the experience in the identification of crime trends, the decision making skills to determine if an arrest should be made, and the hands on experience to effectively make the arrest in a manner which limits the liability for the officers, Pinnacle, and our clients. We truly believe that our hiring standards and experienced officers are what sets us apart from our competitors. The armed security services that Pinnacle provides can be effectively used to supplement the lack of law enforcement presence in a commercial establishment or the community. We also believe that since our security officers have a law enforcement background, they can better coordinate efforts with the NOPD in the areas they are employed by our clients.
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