Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice.

– Abraham Lincoln (Jan. 27, 1838)

Even though our legal system is often criticized, it still provides the best form of justice in the world. As a security officer, you should have a good understanding of both our criminal justice and our civil legal systems. By understanding the basic principles and applying your knowledge to your everyday responsibilities when necessary, you will help contribute to making our society a little safer.

As you know, many businesses, hospitals and schools in this country have experienced the sad effects of criminal acts against their patrons, employees and visitors. These crimes range from theft of company and personal property, to violent rapes, assaults, and even murders.

Security officers are often the “first responders” to these incidents. As such, not only are you responsible for ensuring proper practices are followed (usually to assist law enforcement), you should also be aware of the potential effect your actions may have in the event of a civil lawsuit. Your organization, including its officers, has likely become the targets of civil lawsuits brought by the victims. These cases are increasing at an alarming rate.

Security personnel have additional exposure to liability based upon the nature of their job. Allegations of excessive use of force, inadequate training of security officers, negligent hiring and improper supervision are often made against security officers and their employers. Allegations of false arrest, assault and illegal detention are also quite prolific in the legal world.

It is not the goal of this course to make you lawyers (there are already enough of us!). Rather, the purpose of this training module is to provide you with an overview of the California legal system, the difference between criminal actions and civil actions, and the particular crimes and actions most applicable to the security officer professional. This knowledge will not only help you in being a security officer who follows the law, but hopefully will act as an aid in reducing your chances of being involved in a lawsuit.