University of Cincinnati

Private security is one of the highest growth sectors in the nation. The employment rate in this field is now over 1 million. In comparison, the employment numbers for full-time local law enforcement officers is 120,000. More than ever, companies turn to private security out of necessity to protect their property. Police have less legal powers, and it’s the main reason for the mercurial rise of the private industry.

Other factors contributing to the increased growth include:

Rise in workplace crime.

Rise in fear of crime.

Decreased spending for public protection.

The examples below prove the broad legal leeway given to private security against the restricted powers of police:

Law of the Land

A Supreme Court ruling in 1981 states that, “it is not the duty of police to protect the individual citizen.” Private security companies assert that they will protect all persons on the property of the client. Furthermore, a federal law known as Section 1983 allows a person to sue for civil rights violations by police but not against private citizens.


Many private security firms encourage employees to pursue a two or four-year degree in criminal justice. Workers with busy lives can pursue an excellent master’s program online. A college education gives them an in-depth understanding of criminal justice laws. Private security workers not only have more legal rights than police, but they are now coming to the table equally educated.

Private Property Guardians

Fourth Amendment rights restrict police officers’ powers on private property. Private security is specifically trained to protect individuals or companies. Unlike police, they can question and arrest trespassers on company private property at any time.


Increased funding for liaison programs around the country allow the two groups to pool resources (like education and training) to prevent crime. One of the biggest in the country is NYPD Shield. It combines private and public law enforcement to defend against terrorism. Liaisons like these educate private security on police laws. This gives them an advantage because they still keep their wider legal rights.

Call Time

Workplace incident response by police usually happens after an emergency call to the station. Workplace violence — which number 2 million a year — is typically over in several minutes, way before police arrive. Private security is on the premises and can handle a dangerous situation before it escalates.

You’re Under Arrest

Not only do private security workers have more rights than police, they also own the same arrest powers. They can detain and arrest anyone violating City, County, State, or Federal laws.

The exponential growth of private security employment dramatically exceeds police employment growth. With almost $300 million spent in the private sector in 2013, private security looks like the future in personal and property protection. Factor in wider legal rights, and it’s no wonder more companies are turning to the “new guard” for protection.