Security Officer Law & Legal Definition


A private security business is in the business of furnishing, for hire or reward, guards, watch personnel, armored car personnel, patrol personnel, or other persons to protect persons or property, to prevent the unlawful taking of goods and merchandise, or to prevent the misappropriation or concealment of goods, merchandise, money, securities, or other valuable documents or papers, and includes an individual who for hire patrols, watches, or guards a residential, industrial, or business property or district.

Private security officers, are generally employed by private parties (individuals, corporations or institutions) to protect human lives and physical property. Their main duty is to enforce the rules, regulations and procedures of the employer, control access and prevent trespass to the employer’s/customer’s property, prevent loss of or damage to the employer’s/customer’s assets, represent the employer/customer by providing guidance to authorized visitors and other employees, manage traffic flow, and deter criminal activity on the employer’s/customer/s property. A private security officer is not a police officer and does not usually have the same authority, duties or responsibilities as those of a public law enforcement officer. While private security officers may be permitted by state law to exercise arrest authority, most private security officers have the same arrest authority than any other citizen.

Peace officers employed by public entities are governed by separate laws and requirements than those governing private security officers. A peace officer engaged in the private security business or the private investigation business with the knowledge and consent of the chief executive officer of the peace officer's law enforcement agency may be exempt from rules applicable to security officers, however, rules vary by state.

Private security firms and those security officers who work for them are subject to licensing and requirements of state laws, which vary by state. Requirements for licensing may include, among others, a basic training course, examination, background check, liability insurance, and licensing fees. Mant states have laws governing licensing and requirements for security officers. Exams and programs vary by state. The National Association of Security and Investigative Regulators compiles information for the various state requirements. Some states have state security officer boards and training may be offered by the state, a public college, or a private entity. Local law should be consulted for specific requirements in your area. The following is an example of a state security contractor licensing law:

"Section 1240.200 Application for Examination and Licensure – Private Security Contractor

Applications for licensure by examination, together with all supporting documentation, including verification of work experience, must be on file at least 60 days prior to the date of the examination.

No candidate shall be admitted to the examination until having fulfilled the experience and/or education requirements specified in Section 25-10(a)(6) of the Act. To determine such fulfillment, the following standards shall be applied:

  1. The term "year" shall be 12 months with an average of at least 20 work days per month during which the applicant was engaged in full?time employment equal to 1500 hours or more annually.
  2. "Full-time supervisor in a law enforcement agency" shall mean a sworn peace officer serving in a full?time position responsible for the direction and performance of other law enforcement personnel.

The passing grade on the examination is 70 or above.

d) Upon notification of successful completion of the examination, the applicant may apply to the Division for licensure. The application must be complete and must be accompanied by:

1) One of the following:

  1. Verification of electronic fingerprint processing from the Illinois State Police or one of the Illinois State Police approved vendors. Applicants shall contact one of the approved vendors for fingerprint processing;
  2. Out-of-state residents unable to utilize the Illinois State Police fingerprint process may submit to one of the Illinois State Police approved vendors one fingerprint card issued by the Illinois State Police, accompanied by the fee specified by the vendor; or
  3. Verification, on forms provided by the Division, of proof of retirement as a peace officer within 12 months prior to application in lieu of fingerprints. A peace officer is defined as any person who by virtue of his/her office or public employment is vested by law with a primary duty to maintain public order or to make arrests for offenses, whether that duty extends to all offenses or is limited to specific offenses; officers, agents or employees of the federal government commissioned by federal statute to make arrests for violations of federal criminal laws shall be considered peace officers. (Section 5-10 of the Act) Such verification shall be signed by the applicant's employer;

2) Proof of at least $1,000,000 of liability insurance held by the applicant as evidenced by a certificate of insurance from the insurer; and

3) The required fees specified in Section 1240.570.

e) A successful examination score shall be valid for 6 years. After 6 years the examination score will be void and an applicant will be required to file a new application, meeting the requirements at the time of the new application, and will be required to sit for and pass the examination."