|baltimore (Photo credit: Michael Musson)|
In Maryland, as well as several other states, some security guards have the power of arrest. But here in Maryland, unlike those other states, these guards—referred to as “special police”—don’t have to go through any actual law enforcement training and often have no idea when it comes to due process and protecting the constitutional rights of those they are arresting. This must change.
The Baltimore Sun reports that legislation may soon be crafted to tighten the reins on these security professionals.
The law allows these guards to have law enforcement powers. This can be helpful when there simply isn’t enough officers around to get the job done. It can save the city and the taxpayers money. But, when there are no rules or regulations in place to control these “special police”, it’s an accident or lawsuit waiting to happen.
Of course these security firms– used in colleges, libraries, and other public places—have their own training programs and rules, but they aren’t taught about probable cause, and likely aren’t taught much about unreasonable searches and seizures.
“There aren’t enough checks and balances in the system to prevent a catastrophe from happening,” said Senator James Brochin. “[Security guards] don’t know what probable cause is, they don’t know the rules of the game. We need to fix this.”
There will be a special hearing by the city council on how the city manages these special police licenses, according to the president of the council Bernard C. “Jack” Young.
“We cannot have renegades,” said Young. “They have to have some kind of training in place. They have to be clearly identifiable, so we’ll know who to call when there is an issue or a problem…This is scary.”
Concerns came to a head this past summer when residents of the Cherry Hill community filed a lawsuit alleging that private security working for a property management company have been “terrorizing them.” The residents allege that the special police have been exceeding their authority, pushing boundaries, often with the support of police officials.
Security agencies can apply for these special police licenses, which are granted by the city. But many are wondering if the licensing practice should just be stopped.
“The new police commissioner will have an opportunity to review the program and evaluate it with a fresh set of eyes,” said Ryan O’Doherty, spokesman for the Mayor’s office.
Currently, there are around 1,000 security guards in the state with special police power—too many to be running around with badges and guns but without knowledge of the law.
If you are arrested and charged with a crime, whether it was a security guard or a cop, you have rights. Whether they found cocaine on you or if you are a domestic violence suspect, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and the legal options available to you.