Security Powers vs Police Powers

Security officers are recruited and employed by private security firms and are charge with protecting private property as well as people. They are usually uniformed and act to provide security by maintaining a higher visibility presence and surveillance for signs of fire, disorderly, or crime. They are also expected to take action on the same. The first private security firm in Chicago and indeed in America is the Pinkerton National Detective Agency that was started by Allen Pinkerton in the United States in 1850s. It started its operation in Chicago in the late 1800 and has since been joined by other private firms like Keil M.

Larson, Leon J. Teichner and many others (Bingham & Schultz, 2005). On the other hand, police officers are individuals mandate to enforce the law, secure property and maintain order. Their use of forced is legitimized to attain and perform their duties. Chicago police department is the chief law enforcement agency mandated to enforce law, protect property and maintain order in the city of Chicago, Illinois. The formation of the department dates back to 1837 and has tremendously grown to be one of the oldest and strongest police units in the world.

The Chicago police departs created another supplement in 1989 called Chicago Housing Police Department which lasted for ten years. Their mandate was to provide security in the crime ridden areas with poor or low income housing. Another program that has helped beef up security in the city is the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (C. A. P. S. ) formed in 1993. It has been charged with community policing in the city of Chicago (Reiss & Albert, 1992). Chicago police is governed by the Chicago city council the city’s police department boasts of about 113,000 police officers, one of the largest units in the country.

To become a police officer in Chicago one has to be between the age of 21 and 40 with a high school education plus additional bachelors or associates degree. In addition to these, one needs to be a resident of Chicago and in possession of a valid driving license. An applicant has to pass a background check as well in order to be enrolled for training at the Chicago police department training academy for a probationary period of 18 months. During this period, one has to attend 480 hours course certified by the Illinois Governmental Law Enforcement Training Board and a 300 hour course certified by Chicago police department.

Successful completion of the courses and passage of the exam would lead one to a further three months of field evaluation (Bingham & Schultz, 2005). Security officers on the other hand, do not require much formal education as a high school diploma would be enough. Upon recruitment, the security officers are given a twenty-hour training course before the on job training. However, armed security officers do take at least forty hours to complete their courses which normally focus on firearms. Those training to be armed security officers are required to obtain the Firearms Owners Identification.

Again, security officers who have one year job experience are allowed to apply for the Permanent Employee Registration Card which enables such an officer to possess a firearm (Thompson, 2006). The Chicago police are under the city council of Chicago and are managed by the Chicago police department (Reiss & Albert, 1992). The security officers on the other hand are under the control of the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation. This is the department that is charge with regulating private security firms and those working for them.

They issue among other things the Permanent Employee Registration Card (PERC) to the security officers for them to be eligible for employment. They also reserve the right to deny one such a card. Apart from this body, security is also regulated by the Illinois Compiled Statutes which are available from the states database in the internet and state law offices. The law on security is updated every year and so every security officer needs to be updated so as not be penalized for breaching security laws; something that may bring a long jail term to an offender (Thompson, 2006).

The private securities are normally found everywhere guarding or patrolling private properties. From large corporations, schools, churches, charity organizations, departmental stores to tobacco shops, security officers will be seen watching over some properties or premises. The number of security officers is twice that of the police officers in Chicago. They therefore play an important role in ensuring security and protection of private property and citizens. However, the power vested in them to arrest and detain lawbreakers is incomparable to that of the police officers.

Although police officers have for long been charged with maintaining peace and order, the sharp increase in the number of crimes in Chicago and United States in general has led to an increase in power given to private security officers to arrest and detain. Nevertheless, the powers of a security officer in Chicago are limited and there are cases whereby security officers have exceeded the powers and found themselves in a civil court. Some of these powers are limited to arrest of those trespassing private properties, or those involved in petty theft like shop lifting (Bingham & Schultz, 2005).

Most of security officers in Chicago are armed with weapons that are found with the police officers. Majority carry with them firearms, batons, handcuffs, radios and extra magazines and most of them patrol in cars marked with the words “security”. Again, it would be difficult to differentiate a security officer from a police officer from afar because they both put on uniforms that are more alike. However, these weapons do not put security officers at par with the police officers.

The security officers’ powers to arrest are not only restricted but are also limited to specific situation. While a police officer is mandate to carry out a search warrant and arrest offenders of all manner of crimes, a security officer can only make arrest of persons found committing a crime in their area of operation or stealing property they are meant to protect (Reiss & Albert, 1992). A security officer therefore has to witness the crime before proceeding with arrest or the crime must be directly on the property they are protecting.

Police officers can arrest without a warrant anybody found committing a crime or any body suspected of a criminal offence. And for crimes that had happened earlier on, a police officer may arrest anybody guilty of the criminal offence and anybody whom the officers strongly suspect to be guilty of the previous crime. The Chicago city council is however, planning to have the security officers be involved in issuing parking and traffic tickets. They would be deployed in the streets to help record such traffic offences like violation of speeding limits and other traffic rules (Thompson, 2006).

In the few and limited instances where security officers are mandated to make arrests, they have no power to detain anyone against that person’s will. In most cases they would detain those criminals that are under arrest but any body else suspected of criminal act cannot be detained for questioning by a security officer in Chicago. A security officer may suspect that a crime has been committed and would wish to ask questions or interrogate the suspect but without the suspect’s consent, he or she has no powers to detain such a person.

This therefore limits their powers to arrest even further because, even after making the arrest, a security officer would lack any power to keep the suspect or criminal for questioning. He would therefore delegate such duties to the Chicago police (Thompson, 2006). Security patrol officers are either employed by the property owners as in-house or they are employed by security firms like Pinkerton security group. Those security officers employed by security firms are normally contracted out to private property owners.

The contracting firm and the officers themselves are licensed and regulated by the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation, but just like police officers, security officers in Chicago are expected to carry IDs in this case the Firearms Owner Identification card (FOID) or Permanent Employee Regulation Card (PERC) or both. The police officers in Chicago are expected to carry with them identification cards from the Chicago police department. Their uniforms must also have the CPD insignia or that of any other police department within Chicago like C. A. P. S.

Security officers on the other hand are expected to put on uniforms bearing the word “security”, “guard” or “patrol” The Chicago police department is governed and funded by the Chicago city council and its jurisdiction are stipulated and defined by the council. Chicago police department is responsible for crimes within the city of Chicago. They carry out patrols and make arrest of suspected criminals. They are also charged with enforcing traffic laws within their jurisdiction. The Chicago police department also comprises of the marine and mounted units as the junior levels of operation.

However, the department has got some specialize units that deal with organized gang crimes, detective, drug units and others. The police department also offers community policing through its subsidiary department the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (C. A. P. S. ) (Bingham & Schultz, 2005). The security officers on the other hand are recruited or contracted by firms. There are two groups of security officers, those employed in-house by individuals and those contracted by private security firms.

Those employed in-house are accountable to their individual employers for any loss or breach of secure within their areas of jurisdiction. Such officers work within the premises or patrol their areas of work to ensure protection of private property. They are mostly found in homes and business premises mostly owned by individuals. Contracting firms however, are held accountable for any loss or damage of property under their employees’ jurisdiction. Contracting firms recruit and train a pool of employees whom they deploy to individuals needing private security in their premises or homes.

They are mostly found in banks, bid corporations and all manner of private premises. However, some have been spotted in government offices and institutions, most notably the judiciary and city council offices. Security officers are charged with making patrols within their areas of jurisdiction to enforce law, secure properties and maintain order. Unlike the police they are only mandated to protect the property or the persons they are assigned (Reiss & Albert, 1992). For example, they cannot arrest individuals trespassing on another private property nearby.

Those stationed in one place are normally charged with ensuring security within their premises only. They would be tasked with screening those entering the building other premises and also ensures that the guests record their details before going in. Those found in organizations that offer services are normally involved in ensuring orderliness in the queues and smooth flow of people in and out of the building. Although, the Chicago security officers have limited responsibilities due to their lack of powers, the Chicago city council has plans to involve them in enforcing traffic laws (Thompson, 2006)..

Although, both police officers and security guards are allowed to carry firearms, there are differences in acquisition and usage of the gun (Bingham & Schultz, 2005). While a police officer would be handed a firearm after completing his or her training from the Chicago police training academy, a security officer would not be guaranteed one after completing his or her training. A security officer is required to acquire the Permanent Employee Registration Card (PERC) and/or Firearms Owners Identification Card (FOID) in order to be able to possess a firearm.

The Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation charged with licensing and regulating security firms and their employees can either give or deny a security officer any of these cards. Moreover, to be eligible for PERC, one has to serve as a security officer for a period no less than one year in Chicago. The case is different with the police officers who upon successful completion of the police training course, would be fully equipped with everything by the Chicago police department to start work immediately (Reiss & Albert, 1992).

The rights and rules governing the use of firearms by the two groups of security forces are quite different. While the security officers may be given firearms, they are only mandated to use it in certain circumstances. A security officer is only allowed to pull the trigger when his life is threatened or when the property or persons he is guarding is under the dangers of attack. Otherwise he is not allowed to shoot any criminal who is not posing any threats to him or the property he is protecting.

Police on the other hand has a lot of privileges although they are not supposed to maliciously shoot to kill (Bingham & Schultz, 2005). There are various differences between police officers and security guards in Chicago. They also have some similarities and overlapping roles in their areas of jurisdiction. Problems have been reported between the two groups where one group bypass the other or simply disregard the powers of the other. However, it would be in the interest of the Chicago residents to see the two groups complementing each other to ensure security for their properties as well as their own safety.

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