Security Guard vs. Security Officer

View our helpful chart below to learn about the difference between our off-duty officers, armed guards, and unarmed guards.

Off-Duty Officers

Armed Guards

Unarmed Guards

Licensure:

Licensed as full-time active peace officers.

Licensure:

Licensed to carry firearms while working for a security agency, but have no arrest authority.

Licensure:

Simple state licensure.

Training:

Rigorous law enforcement training. All officers go through their respective police academies.

Training:

30 hour classroom and only 10 hours of firearms training.

Training:

6 hour class.

Authority:

Arrest authority, search and seize, enforce the law.

Authority:

Trained to use a firearm when there is imminent danger. No arrest authority.

Authority:

Trained only to observe a crime and then call 911.

Local Knowledge:

Officers know the local crime scene and provide valuable information to staff and supervisors.

Local Knowledge:

Minimal.

Local Knowledge:

Minimal.

Crime Deterrent:

Strong visible deterrent.

Crime Deterrent:

Minimal and not respected by criminals who know they will not take action.

Crime Deterrent:

Minimal and not respected by criminals who know they will not take action.

Armed vs. Unarmed:

Always armed, and trained to respond with the correct level of force, including non-life threatening.

Armed vs. Unarmed:

Minimal training is required. In most states the training is a brief 6 hour course.

Armed vs. Unarmed:

Not armed, and not licensed to carry a firearm.

Access to back-up:

Regular radio contact with dispatch and local patrols. Know fellow officers in the area.

Access to back-up:

Minimal training is required. In most states the training is a brief 6 hour course.

Access to back-up:

Call 911.

Traffic Control:

Trained in traffic and pedestrian control, including the ability to provide vehicle lights.

Traffic Control:

Not authorized to direct traffic on public streets.

Traffic Control:

Not authorized to direct traffic on public streets.

Response Rate:

Onsite in under 4 hours.

Response Rate:

24-48 hours

Response Rate:

24-48 hours

Officer vs. Guard

Off-Duty Officers

  • Licensure
  • >Licensed as full-time active peace officers.
  • Training
  • Rigorous law enforcement training. All officers go through their respective police academies.
  • Authority
  • Arrest authority, search and seize, enforce the law.
  • Local Knowledge
  • Officers know the local crime scene and provide valuable information to staff and supervisors
  • Access To Replacements
  • Easy access to fellow officers who may be able to respond if assigned officer cannot make shift.
  • Crime Deterrent
  • Strong visible deterrent.
  • Armed vs. Unarmed
  • Always armed, and trained to respond with the correct level of force, including non-life threatening.
  • Access to back-up
  • Regular radio contact with dispatch and local patrols. Know fellow officers in the area.
  • Traffic Control
  • Trained in traffic and pedestrian control, including the ability to provide vehicle lights
  • Response Rate
  • Onsite in under 4 hours.

Armed Guards

  • Licensure
  • Licensed to carry firearms while working for a security agency, but have no arrest authority.
  • Training
  • 30 hour classroom and only 10 hours of firearms training
  • Authority
  • Trained to use a firearm when there is imminent danger. No arrest authority.
  • Local Knowledge
  • Minimal.
  • Access To Replacements
  • Can be very challenging based on the number of available guards licensed with the security agency.
  • Crime Deterrent
  • Minimal and not respected by criminals who know they will not take action.
  • Armed vs. Unarmed
  • Minimal training is required. In most states the training is a brief 6 hour course.
  • Access to back-up
  • Call 911
  • Traffic Control
  • Not authorized to direct traffic on public streets.
  • Response Rate
  • 24-48 hours

Unarmed Guards

  • Licensure
  • Simple state licensure.
  • Training
  • 6 hour class
  • Authority
  • Trained only to observe a crime and then call 911.
  • Local Knowledge
  • Minimal.
  • Access To Replacements
  • Can be very challenging based on the number of available guards licensed with the security agency.
  • Crime Deterrent
  • Minimal and not respected by criminals who know they will not take action.
  • Armed vs. Unarmed
  • Not armed, and not licensed to carry a firearm.
  • Access to back-up
  • Call 911
  • Traffic Control
  • Not authorized to direct traffic on public streets.
  • Response Rate
  • 24-48 hours

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