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- Legal Powers and Limitations of a Security Officer
A Security Officer in New York State for example has the same authority, no more and no less, as that of a private person. A Security Officers arrest authority will vary depending on the employer’s policies and requirements, as well as purely legal rules. The circumstances in which Security Officer may be involved while performing their duties require them to make decisions as to what legal authority they have at that moment. If Security Officers exceed their legal authority, they can face serious criminal or civil liability for their actions. Security Officers can lose their jobs, be personally named in legal actions or be charged and face trial for criminal offenses. Conversely, if Security Officers do not exercise their authority in a given circumstance, they could be reprimanded by their employer, face termination, be named in a legal action or be responsible for having their employer brought to court for damages as a result of the failure to perform their duties. There are times when Security Officers are in a position to legally arrest or use force upon a person, but there may be a company policy set forth by the employer prohibiting them from the use of force or affecting an arrest. This issue should be resolved by the Security Officer and their employer. Generally, Security Officers are not empowered by commission, ordinance, deputization, or federal or state law to act as law enforcement Security Officers. ARREST BY A SECURITY OFFICER/PRIVATE PERSON Arrest means the seizure of a person. An arrest occurs whenever any action significantly interferes with a person’s freedom of movement. Legally, words like “detention,” “restraint,” “seizure,” and “arrest” are synonyms. Any time a person’s freedom of movement is significantly interfered with by another person, an arrest has occurred no matter what you call it. An arrest may result from direct physical restraint, or from words, or circumstances which functionally restrict a person’s freedom of movement. Example: Three uniformed Security Officers believe they have identified a shoplifter. They follow the individual out of the store into the parking lot. They split up, and “surround” the suspect. No words are spoken. When each Security Officer is about twenty feet from the suspect, the suspect notices them. There is no obvious avenue for the suspect to avoid the Security Officer, and the suspect stops. The suspect has been arrested. Even though no words were spoken, or direct physical restraint employed, a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would have objectively believed that s/he was not free to continue on his or her way unimpeded. It would have been apparent to an objective observer that the reason why the suspect stopped was in response to the actions of the security personnel. To be lawful, or “privileged,” an arrest must be legally justified. Without sufficient legal justification, an arrest is illegal and may subject the arrestor to civil or criminal liability. The legality of an arrest will be measured against applicable law, and the facts and information known to the arrestor at the moment s/he restrains another person’s freedom of movement. For public police Guards / Security Officers, Fourth Amendment constitutional criminal procedure law has been the primarily legal authority governing their powers of arrest. For private people, including private Security Officers, constitutional law does not apply and their legal authority to arrest is governed by the law of “citizens’ arrest.” Security Officers have no “special” authority to make an arrest. In New York, the law of citizens’ arrest is entirely statutory. That means that there is no “inherent” right to make a citizens’ arrest, and the rules governing citizens’ arrests are specifically written in the statutes. Thus, to be lawful, a citizens’ arrest in New York must comply with the terms of the statutes.
- What is the Role of a Security Officer?
What is the Role of a Security Officer? The role of a security officer involves the primary goal of protecting the property of the employer. These security officers are frequently positioned as the first line of defense for businesses and homes against external threats, intrusion and vulnerabilities to the property and its dwellers. However, security guards wear many hats, as there are a number of responsibilities they must fulfill that private security company managers should note. While the specific responsibilities can vary depending on the employer, there are some common duties that help to define the roles of security officers. Here are a few to consider. 1. Security Issue Prevention 2. Observation and Reporting 3. Incident Response 4. Communication 5. Collaboration and Cooperation The major responsibility of a security officer should be prevention BEFORE an incident/offense occurs. Thus, a security officer should be highly visible. By being seen, the security officer may discourage anyone who might be considering theft, damage, or personal injury. A security officer’s job focus should be PREVENTION. To do the job well, the security officer MUST: ➢ Be alert ➢ Listen ➢ Watch The decision on how the security officer should react to any given situation is at the discretion of the security officer’s employer. What is a sign that a security officer is doing a good job? The absence of incidents or offenses (crimes) is one sign that a security officer is doing a good job. What should a security officer do if an incident or offense occurs? If an incident/offense occurs, a security officer should not immediately intervene. Instead, the security officer should: ➢ Stay calm ➢ Observe and remember events ➢ Report to the police/or the security officer’s supervisor (follow the employer policy). The above direction is a suggestion and is at the discretion of the employer. Some employers may want their security personnel to be more proactive as long as they stay within the parameters of what is lawful regarding private persons (citizen’s) arrest.
- Security Officers Observation and Report Writing
SECURITY OFFICER OBSERVATION AND REPORT WRITING STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! In a sense, security guard/proprietary private security officers are paid observers. As a security officer your role should be PREVENTION. When an offense has been committed, your responsibility should be to OBSERVE and REPORT. You may be required to: ➢Report to the police ➢ Write a report for your employer ➢ Testify as to what you saw, heard, and did The above direction is a suggestion and at the discretion of the employer. Some employers may want their security personnel to be more proactive as long as they stay within the parameters of what is lawful regarding private persons (citizen’s) arrest. FACT vs. CONCLUSION. You will need to know the difference between a fact and conclusion. A FACT: is what has actually happened, or is known to be true. A CONCLUSION: ➢ is a judgment or opinion formed as a result of the facts. Peace officers and your employer are interested only in the FACTS. With proper facts, they can reach their own conclusions. For example: FACT: As I came around the corner, I saw two men kneeling at the door. One was holding a crowbar. The door had markings around the lock. CONCLUSION: ➢The men are burglars. FACT: A man was walking inside of a fenced area, looking at the loading dock. CONCLUSION: ➢ A man was wandering around looking for something to steal FACT: A young man was weaving back and forth and almost fell down twice in the two minutes I observed him. CONCLUSION: ➢ He was drunk and couldn’t even walk right. FACT: A Woman got into the car and tried to start it CONCLUSION: ➢ She tried to steal the car. FACT: A girl picked up the necklace, examined it, placed in her purse, and walked directly to the north exit CONCLUSION: ➢ After she stole the necklace, she tried to get away by the north exit. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! It will take practice to become a good OBSERVER and to be able to REPORT facts instead of conclusions. When you write a report, remember to include these six facts: 1. Who 2. What 3. Where 4. When 5. How 6. Names of witnesses. AUTHORITY TO QUESTION AND BASIS FOR MAKING DECISIONS A SECURITY OFFICER’S AUTHORITY TO QUESTION PEOPLE A Security Officer is an agent of the owner of the private property and, in this role, can exercise the owner’s right to ask people on the (owner’s) property what they are doing there, who they are, etc. If they refuse to answer the questions or if their answers are not satisfactory, the Security Officer may ask them to leave. If they do not leave, the security officer may arrest (citizen’s arrest) them for trespassing, and should call local law enforcement without unreasonable delay. When on property and not employed as a Security Officer, your authority is no greater than any other person’s. On the other hand, your authority to question people is greater on property where you are on duty as a security officer. WHAT ARE THE PROPERTY OWNER’S RIGHTS? The owner of the property has the right to establish certain rules on his property that may not be a part of the Penal Code. For instance, if an employee shows up for work drunk, he may be violating a company rule. The client may want the employee sent home or may intend to fire the employee. How this situation is handled is between the employer and the employee, and has nothing to do with the police or public law. A SECURITY OFFICER MUST KNOW WHAT THE EMPLOYER’S POLICY STATES. Trying to enforce company policy could, however, result in a violation of public law, by you or by the employee. For example, if the employee is asked to leave and refuses, he may be arrested for violating the public law against trespassing. On the other hand, if the Security Officer uses unnecessary force in removing the employee from the premises, the Security Officer may be arrested for committing assault and/or battery. HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE VIOLATIONS? As a Security Officer, acting as a representative of the owner on the owner’s private property, you can physically prevent a person from entering an area - but only as a last resort! Be sure to check with your employer regarding the way to handle a violation of company rules, as well as how to handle violation’ of certain laws.
- What is a Security Officers Proprietary Job?
1. AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY WHAT IS A SECURITY GUARD/PROPRIETARY PRIVATE SECURITY OFFICER’S JOB? A security Officers/proprietary 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. This decision is at the discretion of the security officers, employer. 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.) WHAT IS A PEACE OFFICER'S JOB? 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 to enforce 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 officer/private investigator/alarm agent responder! REMEMBER, a peace officer’s responsibilities are different from a security officer’s responsibilities. ➢ SECURITY OFFICER/PROPRIETARY only protect specific people and property as directed by their employers. ➢ POLICE (PEACE OFFICERS) protect all people and all property and enforce laws. WHAT OTHER DUTIES COULD A SECURITY OFFICER /PROPRIETARY HAVE? A security officer/proprietary may be responsible for maintaining certain company rules established by his/her employer. These could include: ➢ Requiring employees to show their badges when entering the property; ➢ Inspecting lunch pails as employees leave the plant; or ➢ Monitoring safety standards and reporting hazards, blocked exits, fire safety, slippery floors, etc. A security officer/proprietary supervisor or employer most likely offer instructions on helping employees observe company rules and policies. 2. PREVENTION IS THE KEY The security officer/proprietary primary role should be to protect persons and prevent damage or destruction to property. PREVENTION is the key word. For example, if you spotted some 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 officer/proprietary on patrol. The person leaves the store without stealing anything. The security officer/proprietary, simply by being in uniform, has prevented a crime. 3. OBSERVE AND REPORT If you can’t prevent an incident, the proper action should be to observe and report. You should: ➢ Observe carefully and ➢ Report immediately to local law enforcement and/or your supervisor. 4. GET HELP 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. Examples: #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 observe and 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 security officer/proprietary 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 your presence known.) The above direction is a suggestion and is at the discretion of the employer. Some employers may want their security personnel to be more proactive as long as they stay within the parameters of what is lawful regarding private persons (citizen’s) arrest. RELATIONS WITH LOCAL PEACE OFFICERS OR LAW ENFORCEMENT Your job is made easier if you have a good working relationship with the local peace officers. ➢ NEVER play “cop.” You don’t have the training for it and you don’t have the legal authority to do the same things a peace officer can do. Also, playing “cop” may antagonize the local law enforcement and hurt your company’s working relations with them. Impersonating a peace officer is a felony. DON’T MISLEAD PEOPLE. Because of your uniform, badge, hat or other gear, some people may think you are a peace officer. DON’T do anything to encourage this false idea. Whenever the opportunity arises, make it a point to let them know that you are NOT a peace officer, but a security officer. DURING AN EMERGENCY, you may not interfere with peace officers who may be on the scene even if they are on the private property of your employer or client. You must cooperate to the extent possible with these peace officers or you may be subject to arrest. However, if called upon by a peace officer to provide assistance, you should do so. REMEMBER: Your roles are different! A peace officer is charged with the enforcement of laws in a city or county. A security officer/proprietary is responsible for protecting only the specific people or property he is hired to protect. The above direction is a suggestion and is at the discretion of the employer. Some employers may want their security personnel to be more proactive as long as they stay within the parameters of what is lawful regarding private persons (citizen’s) arrest.
- Security Officer's Legal Responsibilities and Liabilities
THE SECURITY OFFICER’S LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND LIABILITIES Actions based on poor judgment can lead to legal problems for both you and your employer. You must, by law, avoid certain actions. Legal responsibilities and liabilities that affect you are presented in this section. CRIMINAL LIABILITIES WHO HAS THE POWER TO ARREST? The authority to arrest is given to all private persons. A Security Officer has the same power to arrest as any other private person. However, because the Security Officer wears a uniform and badge, this can lead to misunderstanding and abuse. WHAT IS AN ARREST? An arrest is a form of lawful control by one person over the actions or movements of another. An arrest is taking a person into custody IN A CASE and IN THE MANNER authorized by law. An arrest may be made by a peace officer or a private person (citizen’s arrest). WHAT IS CRIMINAL LIABILITY? Crimes are generally defined in penal statutes of a state, or the ordinances of local cities or counties. All persons are expected to obey these laws. Anyone who violates a criminal law is subject to a fine, and/or a term in jail, or prison, depending on the type of crime. The potential for punishment as a result of violating a criminal law is called CRIMINAL LIABILITY. Some acts by security officers for which criminal liability is possible include: ➢ INTIMIDATION: Threatening physical harm or otherwise frightening people when they do not cooperate or confess to a crime. ➢ EXCESSIVE PHYSICAL FORCE: Where an arrest is made, the law allows only the use of physical force, which is reasonable or necessary to restrain the suspect if he/she is resisting, in order to make the arrest. Where more force is used than that which the law allows, the arresting party is said to be using “excessive force” and may be held criminally as well as civilly liable. An example of excessive force is the discharge of a firearm in shooting a suspect in order to protect personal property. By law, deadly force is allowed only to protect lives. ➢ USE OF UNAUTHORIZED DEADLY WEAPONS: Becoming registered as a Security Officer DOES NOT entitle a security guard to carry a weapon. Some weapons such as knives with blades longer than 2 inches or switch-blade knives, brass knuckles, nunchakus, or sawed-off shotguns cannot be carried by Security Officers. Security Officers cannot carry a gun and/or a baton unless they have the additional exposed firearm permit and/or baton certificate. If they carry the gun concealed they must also have a concealed weapons permit issued by their local law enforcement agency. Proprietary private security officers are unarmed and cannot carry a gun or a baton. Proprietary private security officers cannot carry any deadly weapons. Proprietary private Security Officer cannot carry weapons such as switchblade knives or knife’s with blades over 2 inches in length, brass knuckles, nunchakus, batons, or guns as they are considered deadly weapons. UNLAWFUL USE OF DEFENSIVE WEAPONS: Security Officers cannot carry handguns and batons unless authorized by the Bureau. Security Officers are allowed to carry an exposed firearm and/or baton only after the security guard completes the Bureau recognized training and the appropriate permits are issued. FALSE ARREST: MISDEMEANOR ARREST - a private person making a misdemeanor arrest may be found criminally liable for a false arrest if the arrest is made and the arresting party did not actually observe the suspect commit the misdemeanor in his/her presence. FELONY ARREST - a private person making a felony arrest may be found criminally liable for a false arrest if the arrest is made or caused to be made by others and the arresting party does not have reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed the felony. EVERYONE HAS CIVIL LIABILITY The legal term “PARTY” can be a person, company, or organization. When one party believes it has been injured, damaged, or wronged by another party, it may make a lawful claim for damages. The claim or “LAWSUIT” is presented to a civil court where both parties may explain their positions to a judge or jury. A court judge may decide whether or not one party in a lawsuit has damaged another. If damages are due, the court will decide, after a trial, how much money must be paid by one party to another. The responsibility for the things we do, or fail to do, with the possibility of being sued by another is called “CIVIL LIABILITY.” WHY IS YOUR EMPLOYER ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS? As a Security Officer, you are a representative of your employer. Therefore, any negligence or wrongful acts committed by you may also cause your employer to be held responsible. Suits may be brought against you (the private security officer) and/or your employer. FOR EXAMPLE: A private security officer makes a false arrest. The person arrested may file a civil suit for damages against the private security officer, his employer, and all of those believed to be responsible. Even if the civil suit against you (the private security officer) or your employer fails, the action may be costly for you and your employer to defend. WHEN SHOULD A PRIVATE SECURITY OFFICER ARREST? A private security officer who is expected to make arrests should receive explicit instructions and training on how to do so. Training should make clear the circumstances under which an arrest can be made and the procedure for making it, so as to minimize civil liability. As a private security officer, you should work primarily in a preventive role. Use good judgment and exercise caution when faced with an arrest situation. Every person must be accountable for his or her actions. Acts of a private security officer in an arrest situation are easy to defend when good judgment and good faith have been used. A private security officer must not be afraid to act in an arrest situation, but must use restraint and good judgment.
- The Security Officer Code of Ethics
THE SECURITY GUARD CODE OF ETHICS Ethics and professionalism go hand in hand. Security Officers are entrusted with the safety of lives and property. They are often a company’s first line ambassadors to the public, and are responsible for enforcing safety and integrity rules in the work place. The job requires the highest levels of integrity, honor, and discretion—ethics. It is the essence of a Security Officers position that conduct be at the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. This is simply expected of Security Officers; anything else is unacceptable. Simply stated if you can’t trust the people who are responsible for protecting lives and property to act ethically, who can you trust? New York State has adopted a code of ethics for Security Officers. The code of ethics formalizes the idea—and rule—that there are measurable standards of conduct expected from everyone who holds a Security Officer position. Code of Ethics defined The code of ethics is a statement that incorporates moral and ethical principles and philosophies. It is a measure of a person’s activities against a standard of behavior. By outlining basic rules of expected conduct, the code of ethics communicates these rules to all security Guards. The manner in which personnel of a business conduct their activities has a direct effect on whether a business succeeds or falls. Security Officers are entrusted to protect persons and property from harm, and so by definition must possess a high degree of integrity and ethical standards. Ethical behavior is therefore a direct job function of Security Officers. ➢A published and public code of ethics increases the effectiveness and role of the security Guard. ➢The code of ethics will help the security industry attract a better caliber of Guard. ➢The code of ethics will help create a professional environment in which to work, reducing turnover rates and increasing effectiveness. ➢ The code of ethics will enhance the way law enforcement agencies and the general public view private security. ➢The code of ethics will help protect people’s rights and reduce abuses of authority. CODE OF ETHICS FOR SECURITY OFFICERS In my capacity as a security Guard hired to prevent, report and deter crime, I pledge: 1. To protect life and property; prevent and reduce crime committed against my employer/client’s business, or other organizations and institutions to which I am assigned; abide by the Constitution of the United States. 2. To carry out my duties with honesty and integrity and to maintain the highest moral principles. 3. To faithfully, diligently and dependably discharge my duties, and to uphold the laws, policies and procedures that protect the rights of others. 4. To discharge my duties truthfully, accurately and prudently without interference of personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my judgments. 5. To report any violation of law or rule or regulation immediately to my supervisors. 6. To respect and protect information considered confidential and privileged by my employer or client, except where their interests are contrary to law or this Code of Ethics. 7. To cooperate with all recognized and responsible law enforcement agencies within their jurisdiction. 8. To accept no compensation, commission, gratuity, or other advantage without the knowledge and consent of my employer. 9. To conduct myself professionally at all times, and to perform my duties in a manner that reflects credit upon me, my employer and the security profession. 10. To continually improve my performance by seeking training and educational opportunities that better prepare me to carry out my security duties. SELECTED ETHICAL VIOLATIONS Failure to Report Violations Reporting ethical violations is an essential part of a security Guard’s job. Watching for and reporting ethical violations is part of protecting people and property. Unethical behavior is a threat to the well being of people and property. Reporting ethical violations is doing the job for which a Security Officer has been hired. Failing to report ethical violations compromises the entire security function. Companies should have carefully developed protocols for reporting suspected ethical violations. People have to trust the process, and the process must work. Discretion is a must. Violating Confidentiality What you see at work stays at work. Information is valuable property. Protecting property is a duty of a Security Officer. Keeping confidences comes with the job. Dishonesty There is no excuse for dishonesty of any sort by a Security Officer. Theft of property. There is never a legitimate reason for theft. No excuse will be accepted. “Unauthorized borrowing” is the same as stealing. Theft of services is theft. Theft of time is stealing. Sleeping on duty is theft. Leave abuse is stealing. Falsification is unethical and dishonest. Making false entries in the business records of a company is a crime. Falsely reporting that you made inspections when you did not is unethical. Falsely reporting on some records is theft. Destruction or Misuse of Property There is never a legitimate excuse for damaging or misusing property or equipment belonging to another. Impersonation Do not represent yourself as other than a Security Officer. Impersonation is unethical, and almost always counter productive. Security Officers need to be immediately and precisely identifiable as Security Officers. People need ready access to Security Officers, and must be aware of their presence. The idea that pretending to be a law enforcement Security Officer is helpful is an illusion. It is not true. Malpractice Abuse of authority and incompetence are each definite violation of ethics. Abuse of authority is deliberate wrongdoing. Incompetence is wrongdoing due to lack of skill. There is nothing that compromises security faster than bad security. Whether deliberate or incompetent, improper security operations compromise security, and can endanger the very people and property a Security Officers is hired to protect. Favoritism Security Officers are part of but yet slightly apart from their co-workers. Security Officers must avoid even the perception of subjectivity or favoritism. Alcohol and drugs The use of alcohol or drugs while on duty is absolutely prohibited. Security Officers are expected to be fully alert at all times when on duty. On-duty alcohol or drug use compromises safety, reduces response time, inhibits professional judgments, and compromises security. Bribes A Security Officer may only serve one “master.” No Security Officer may accept anything of value from anyone other than the employer for performing security services. Accepting bribes is a firing offense. Always and without exception. Gambling Gambling at work violates accepted ethical standards for Security Officer. Borrowing Money Borrowing money from, or lending money to, co-workers and employees is frowned upon. A debt creates at least a perception of undue influence, which can compromise a Security Officer even if the perception is not true. Harassment, Sexual and Otherwise People come to work to work. The law prohibits activities which makes working more difficult for illegitimate reasons, such as race, religion or sex. Conduct which is offensive to someone because of their race, religion, or sex has no place at work. It is not job-related, and people simply do not have to put up with it. Harassment, including sexual harassment, is a violation of civil rights laws. Harassment reduces productivity, and creates liabilities for employers. It is also hurtful to its victims, and against the law. Its reduction is therefore part of a Security Officers duty to protect people and property. Sexual Harassment Sexual Harassment is legally defined as any unwelcome sexual conduct or contact. Note that sexual harassment (like all harassment) is measured primarily by the effect of conduct on the victim. The “intent” of the actor is not important, it does not matter much that the person thought the conduct was “harmless.” Sexually harassing conduct can be open, such as coercing sex with a promise of promotion, or “grabbing” at employees. It can also be more subtle, such as jokes and verbal conduct, or too persistently trying to date someone who has said “no.”
- Major Statute New York State Criminal Procedure Law 140.30(1)
Major statute New York State Criminal Procedure Law 140.30(1): Subject to the provisions of subdivision two, any person may arrest another person (a) for a felony when the latter has in fact committed such felony, and (b) for any offense when the latter has in fact committed such offense in his presence. (Subdivision two refers to where citizens’ arrests may be made, and is discussed below.) This statute, PL §140.30(1), authorizes citizens’ arrests for any “offense,” if it “in fact” occurs “in the presence” of the security Guard. An “offense” is any violation of law for which the government may punish the violator, in other words any “criminal” offense. Offenses include felonies, misdemeanors, violations, and traffic infractions. These words are used in the law to “rank” offenses by seriousness. A felony is an offense for which a prison term of more than one year may be imposed. (Note that an offense does not lose its status as a felony merely if a prison term of more than one year is not in fact imposed; it is the possibility of such a prison term that counts.) Felonies are the most serious crimes, and include offenses such as murder, grand larceny, serious assaults, robbery, burglary, and rape. Misdemeanors are offenses for which a sentence of incarceration of over 15 days but not more than one year may be imposed. Misdemeanors are crimes, but less serious crimes than felonies. Offenses such as petit larceny (stealing property valued at less than $1,000), simple assault, and many trespasses are misdemeanors. Violations are offenses for which a jail term of not more than 15 days may be imposed. Examples are disorderly conduct, simple trespass, and harassment. Violations are not crimes, although they are governed by criminal law. A person convicted of a violation does not have a “criminal record.” Traffic Infractions are a variety of violations concerning improper operation of motor vehicles. Speeding tickets, failure to stop at a red light, and automobile equipment violations are examples. The major difference between traffic infractions and other violations are procedural— the methods used in the court proceedings for traffic infractions differ somewhat from those used for other violations. Note: Not all traffic offenses are traffic infractions. Some, such as reckless driving or DWI, may be misdemeanors or felonies. The two most important things to remember about citizens’ arrests are that to be legally justified: (a) The offense must have actually (“in fact”) occurred, and (b) The arrestor must have actually seen it occur (it must have occurred “in the presence” of the arrestor). (a) With one exception (discussed below), Security Officers are not permitted to make arrests on “probable cause.” To justify a citizens’ arrest, the offense must have actually occurred. A security Guard is not legally authorized to make an arrest merely because s/he has a belief that an offense has occurred, no matter how reasonable that belief is. (b) For a citizens’ arrest to be legally justified, in addition to the offense having actually occurred, the offense must have occurred “in the presence” of the arrestor. The Security Officer must have actually seen the offense occur. If s/he does not, even if the offense did actually occur, a citizens’ arrest is legally unauthorized. For example: An employee at a factory advises a Security Officer that another employee has stolen her purse. Three other employees tell the Security Officer that they saw it happen. The Security Officer is not legally authorized to arrest the suspect, since the theft did not occur “in the presence” of the Security Officer. (This does not necessarily mean that the Security Officer can do nothing to help resolve this case. It only means that the Security Officer may not legally make a citizens’ arrest. The Security Officer could, for example, assist the victim, who actually saw the theft, make her own citizens’ arrest. In such a case, the Security Officer could “do all the work” in making the arrest, but as an agent of the victim.) The arrestor need not see every single act constituting an offense to meet the requirement that the offense have occurred in his or her presence. The requirement is met if the arrestor sees “enough” the offense to be sure it really occurred. For example: A Security Officer in a factory hears a scream and sees a man running through the building with a woman’s purse. A female employee is running after him screaming that he just stole it. The offense (theft), if it actually occurred, happened “in the presence” of the Security Officer, because the Security Officer saw the theft in the “escape” stage. Duties of a Security Officer/private person in arresting - Inform the person who s/he is arresting of the reason for such arrest, unless s/he encounters physical resistance, flight, or other factors rendering such procedure impractical (CPL 140.35). Time of arrest: A Security Officer/private person may affect an arrest at any hour of the day or night. (CPL §140.35) Use of Force: To effect an arrest, a Security Officer/private person may use such physical force as is justifiable pursuant to PL §35.30 . A private person acting on his own account may use physical force, other than deadly physical force, upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes such to be necessary to effect an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody of a person whom he reasonably believes to have committed an offense and who in fact committed such offense; and he may use deadly physical force for such purpose when he reasonably believes such to be necessary to: (a) Defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force; or (b) Affect the arrest of a person who has committed murder manslaughter in the first degree, robbery, forcible rape or forcible sodomy and who is in immediate flight there from.