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What Security Guards Can and Can't Do Legally



Having trained security professionals on-site deters crime and adds a layer of protection around property and people in the area. From the observational skills they possess to the authority they project, security guards benefit businesses, government agencies, residential locations, and more.


While security guards are trained professionals, they are not the authorities. As private citizens entrusted with the protection of private property, security guards have a defined set of roles that they can fulfill and others beyond their jurisdiction.


Understanding what security guards can and can't do helps determine the type of innovative security solution you need. Ahead, we’ll explain the boundaries that security guards operate within.


What Security Guards Can and Can’t Do


Security guards can ask an individual to leave, pursue a criminal or intruder on the premises, and, if they have reasonable grounds, detain a suspect until authorities arrive. Security guards do not have the power to search an individual without express permission and hold no more arrest power than the average citizen.


To understand more about what security guards can and can't do in North Carolina, read on.


Can a Security Guard Carry a Weapon?


Yes, a security guard is legally allowed to carry a weapon. Hiring armed security guards is an effective protection strategy that many firms decide to pursue. Every guard must earn a permit before being legally allowed to carry a weapon. According to North Carolina law (§ 74C-13):


“A firearm registration permit grants authority to the armed security guard, or armed private investigator, while in the performance of his or her duties or traveling directly to and from work, to carry any firearm approved by the Board and not otherwise prohibited by law.”


If the weapon is concealed, state law instructs guards to obtain a concealed carry permit. These permit and licensing requirements ensure that the individuals serving as armed guards are properly trained and have no criminal record.


Working with a reputable security company that offers unarmed and armed security guard options is the best way to ensure you receive the right protection plan.


Can a Security Guard Arrest Someone?


Security guards are private citizens and not officers of the law. This means that they do not generally have the ability to arrest individuals.


However, a security guard can detain an individual in certain situations. North Carolina law (§ 15A-404) allows for private citizens to detain individuals when there is reason to believe that a person committed a:

  • Felony

  • Breach of the peace

  • Crime involving physical injury to another person

  • Crime involving theft or destruction of property

So, if a security guard sees a suspect committing a crime or believes that an individual has committed a crime, they can detain the suspect. Once the guard does so, they are legally able to keep the suspect detained until law enforcement arrives or can determine that the individual has committed no crime.


Will a Security Guard Protect My Property?


Lastly, let’s address a security guard’s ability to ensure that property is protected. A security guard is trained to be vigilant and proactive while on-site, allowing them to spot suspicious activity and often prevent crime before it takes place.


In addition to serving as a physical warning to deter would-be criminals, security guards provide on-site resolution to conflict and crime. These professionals can spring into action when unsavory behavior occurs. From stopping burglaries to keeping the premises clear of loiterers, guards take actions big and small to ensure that property remains protected.


Find Peace of Mind With Lyon Shield Security


At Lion Shield Security, we understand that protection is not a one-size-fits-all process. In light of this, we work directly with each client to develop a comprehensive security plan that fits their unique needs. Our guards are screened, security vetted and highly trained personnel that understand what it takes to protect and secure a location.


If your current security plan needs an overhaul, we’re here to help. Contact Lion Shield Security to learn how we can create a tailored security plan for your business.

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