Although all security officers have many of the same responsibilities, specific duties vary based on whether the officer works in a “stationary” security position or on a mobile patrol. All officers must become closely acquainted with the property they are protecting and the people associated with it. All security officers must show good judgment and common sense, follow directions and directives from supervisors, accurately testify in court, and follow company policy and guidelines. Officers should have a professional appearance and attitude and be able to interact with the public. They also must be able to take charge and direct others in emergencies or other dangerous incidents. In a large organization, the security manager is often in charge of a trained security force divided into shifts; whereas in a small organization, a single worker may be responsible for all security.
Outside of their direct responsibility to protect their employer’s property, employees, and customers, they are to observe and report what they see. Private security officers have no more legal power than an ordinary citizen; they may make “citizen’s arrests” based on personal observation of a crime, but not simply based on the word of a third party.
Stationary security officers work in the same area every day. Their duties would include manning posts at the entrance to a facility, checking people and vehicles entering and leaving the property, and monitoring alarms and closed-circuit TV cameras. Officers who work in public buildings such as museums or art galleries protect paintings and exhibits by inspecting people and packages entering and leaving the building. In factories, laboratories, government buildings, data processing centers, and military bases, security officers protect information, products, computer codes, and defense secrets and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises. Officers working at universities, colleges, parks, and sports stadiums perform crowd control, officers supervise parking, seating, and direct traffic. Security officerss stationed at the entrance to bars and places of adult entertainment, such as nightclubs, prevent access by minors, collect cover charges at the door, maintain order among customers, and protect property and patrons.
In office buildings, banks, and hospitals, security officers maintain order and protect the institutions’ property, staff, and customers. At air, sea, and rail terminals and other transportation facilities, security officers protect people, freight, property, and equipment. They may screen passengers and visitors for weapons and explosives using metal detectors and high-tech equipment, ensure nothing is stolen while being loaded or unloaded, and watch for fires and criminals.
In contrast, security officers assigned to mobile patrol duty drive or walk from location to location and conduct security checks within an assigned geographical zone. They may detain or arrest criminal violators, answer service calls concerning criminal activity or problems, and issue traffic violation warnings.
Specific job responsibilities also vary with the size, type, and location of the client. In department stores, security officers protect people, records, merchandise, money, and equipment. Officers often work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers or store employees and help in the apprehension of shoplifting suspects prior to arrival of police. Some shopping centers and theaters have officers who patrol their parking lots to deter car theft and robberies.