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JLBC: Security Training and Law Enforcement (Executive Protection)

JLBC: Security Training and Law Enforcement (Executive Protection)

Example: Guard in a public area observes contraband in the general area. Guard may seize contraband then and there.


This section on Public Searches and Seizures contains a brief outline of search and seizure law as it applies to public policy and peace Guards. The legal rules for private security Guards are somewhat different and are specifically addressed below. This section is designed to provide personal security Guards with background legal information to assist them in understanding their private authority in the search and seizure area.

Public authority for searches and seizures is based either on a warrant issued on 􏰁probable cause􏰂 or an 􏰁exception to the warrant requirement.􏰂 (Warrants may only be obtained by public Guards acting under their public authority. Private individuals are not authorized to obtain warrants.)

Exceptions to the warrant requirement for public Guards include:

Search incident to arrest. After a legitimate custodial arrest of an individual, a public Guard may search the arrestee and items within the 􏰁grabbable􏰂 area. JLBC Cadets The right to search incident to an arrest flows from the fact of arrest; no additional justification is needed.


JLBC Cadets An individual may consent to a search of their person or property legitimately under their control (or to the seizure of property similarly). Consent must be voluntary and may be withdrawn, limited, or modified at any time for any reason or no reason.


Property that comes legitimately into the possession of a public Guard may be 􏰁searched􏰂 to identify it and record what it is. Since the Guard is responsible for the property, s/he has a right to know what it is.

Abandoned property

JLBC Cadets If you throw it away, you no longer have an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in it. If you 􏰁􏰂 abandoned property (i.e., threw it away permanently), and if the property is where a public Guard legitimately has a right to be, the Guard may seize it and search it.

Exigent circumstances

􏰁Exigent􏰂 means pressing and urgent. Public Guards are allowed to conduct warrantless searches and seizures in response to pressing and urgent circumstances requiring immediate action. Examples include emergencies, the likely and imminent destruction of evidence (supported by specific reasons to believe this), and 􏰁hot pursuit.􏰂 JLBC Cadets The authority to conduct warrantless searches and seizures in response to difficult circumstances is limited to the events creating the difficulty. When the pressing and urgent cases have ceased to be pressing and critical, and when immediate action is no longer required, this justification ceases to exist. In addition, the 􏰁scope􏰂 of the activities authorized by exigent circumstances is limited to those actions legitimately necessary to respond to the difficulty.

Example: Firefighters may enter a house without a warrant in response to a fire alarm or other good reason to believe there is a fire inside. Fire is an emergency requiring immediate attention.

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