What's the liability involved with security guards?
When I wrote a story about the city of Oakland considering supplementing its police force with armed security guards, the primary argument I heard against such a thing was liability.
“There was a push by the city council to put security guards on the street because private guards are cheaper than police officers,” said Officer Jeff Thomason, public information officer for the Oakland Police Department. “But from our perspective, it’s a liability. They’re not highly trained and they might be placed in a situation where they have to use deadly force.”
I just read this article in the Boston Herald about an incident where an armed private officer shot and killed a patient who stabbed a doctor. This case seems fairly straightforward that the officer acted appropriately, but the issue of liability is still a major concern. Apparently the officer was a "special officer" employed by a private company (which remains unnamed), but was licensed through the Mass. Police. Here's the blurb from the article for more clarification:
Boston police license special officers, who are employed by private companies. To obtain a license, candidates must pass a licensing exam, according to police policy.
Special officers who want to carry a firearm are also tested on their ability to use the weapons and apply deadly force, the policy states. The testing takes place at the Boston Police Department Range.
Licensed special officers have the power of police officers to make arrests and enforce laws and ordinances within city limits. Special officers are prohibited from applying for or executing search warrants.
In the article, the officer's father confirms that he is a special officer and attended police academy training and previously held a summer job as a police officer in Provincetown.
But even if he was specially trained, if this is becomes a wrongful death suit or ends up in court, who's responsible? The police or the private company? Is this a risk police departments or municipalities are willing to take?