Issues And Challenges Of Cooperation Between Private Security And Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies are under a lot of pressure to lower crime rates while simultaneously managing low budgets and a lack of manpower. As a result, many businesses and establishments are supplementing the work of law enforcement agencies by turning to private security firms. It isn’t uncommon for the domains of private security and law enforcement agencies to intersect every now and then.

This necessary, albeit not as frequent, collaboration makes itcrucial to establish a partnership between the two groups. Private security and law enforcement agencies have to find common ground and work towards achieving the mutually beneficial goal of keeping their communities safe This often extends to information sharing. The insights that security personnel can provide to police are invaluable and could go a long way in apprehending suspects.

There are several organizations that are committed to improving collaboration between private security companies and law enforcement. ASIS International’s Law Enforcement Liaison Council is one such group that is fostering dialog and cooperation between private security companies and law enforcement.

The Importance of Private-Public Security Partnerships

It is important for both sectors to unite together, especially when it comes to large urban areas that have a large presence of security personnel. Police officers respect the role of security officers because they provide them with an extra pair of watchful eyes to keep the area safe.

Thanks to the efforts of security guards, police officers don’t have to worry about spending their resources on dealing with minor security hassles when they have more pressing issues to deal with.

Local law enforcement agencies can work with security guards to scout possible threats nearby. They can provide surveillance footage, videos, and photos of suspects they need to keep an eye on. This is especially useful if the police want to maintain a low profile so as not to spook wanted individuals. Criminals aren’t evading security personnel, they are evading police.

Recruiting security personnel to alert law enforcement of the presence of wanted individuals can go a long way in making the community a safer place. This is crucial because our communities face numerous types of threats and we should not lower our guard.

It is worth mentioning that regulations have been put in place to control activities of private security companies. These regulations are designed to improve the relationship between law enforcement agencies and security agencies. With that said, it isn’t uncommon for conflicts to occur due to the lack of confidence in each other. The regulations have certain challenges that may prevent collaboration between the private and public sectors.

Let’s take a look at some of these issues and challenges.

Moonlighting Officers

Law enforcement officers often work a second job as security guards in police uniforms. It is a widespread practice that is lightly regulated and often utilizes public resources for private purposes.

The rules of search and seizure are not applicable to private police, including moonlighting officers who are acting as private security guards. This is because the fourth amendment restricts unlawful governmental institutions and does not apply to the acts of private persons.

With that said, it is alleged that moonlighting offices often abuse their authority because they aren’t as tightly regulated as private security guards.

It is worth mentioning that security personnel do not have any more or less authority to detain a person than a private citizen. Police officers, on the other hand, are limited only by law and jurisdiction. Security officers are limited to act within the confines of the private property they are assigned to, this may or may not be open to the public.

Most jurisdictions allow private security guards to lawfully detain individuals if they have probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime (such as burglary or shoplifting).On the other hand, security officers cannot detain an individual for violating company policy. It isn’t uncommon for security guards to perform actions that fall outside the scope of their duties. This could create liability problems for their employers.

Lack of Awareness

Although there are regulations for private security guards, most law enforcement agents aren’t educated about them. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that law enforcement officers aren’t very knowledgeable when it comes to private security guards. This often leads to conflicts and could be the reason why they under-appreciated private guards.


Perhaps due to lack of education or awareness, the competition remains fierce between private security firms and law enforcement agencies. This can lead to hostilities and further animosity.

Growing Mistrust

Many law enforcement agents do not have an adequate understanding of the role of private security guards. This leads to a hostile environment where police officers assume that security guards aren’t well educated, have poor training, and don’t have the ability to stop crime. As a result, many police officers fail to form a working relationship with private security guards. They are not willing to trust guards with information and cases.


Police officers should understand that many security officers are young, overzealous, and do not understand the First Amendment and how it relates to private property. As such, police officers should always try to seek a peaceful resolution with the security officers. If this is not possible, they should ask to speak with their supervisor.

In every situation, they should maintain a polite and respectful demeanor.

Overcoming These Challenges

The key to supplementing police agencies is to hire better trained security professionals and actively seek to develop relationships between public and private groups. Private security officers can make a significant impact on safety and security. The collaboration between security agencies and law enforcement should extend beyond information sharing. It is in the best interests of all stakeholders to have emergency response plans for everything from workplace violence and natural disasters.

Many police departments and police officers have social media accounts. Security personnel can follow them and interact with their posts to increase their chances of building a working relationship.