Legal Issues of Security

Private Sector Security
Responsibility for the security of others has been recognized since the middle-ages as imposing on owners and operators of land a duty to provide security from the foreseeable risks of crime. With the death, injury and damage resulting from the acts of 9/11, the limits of that duty are being challenged in litigation against land owners and operators, manufacturers of products, property managers, employers, airline operators, security service companies and those who insure them. In the past the duty to provide security against foreseeable crime risks perpetrated by often unknown third parties was more or less limited by legal precedents which considered such things as the prior history of crime under similar circumstances and issues such as proximate cause, duty, and standards of care. The federal court hearing the 9/11 plaintiff’s claims for liability coverage for the harm caused to victims is dealing with issues that may extend the duty of care owed to the public far beyond where it reached in the past increasing the importance of a better understanding by the private sector of its duty to provide reasonable security levels under wider circumstances and by more security related organizations.

To assist those affected by this often contentious area of law, FRAC will present some of the developments occurring in security negligence litigation in an effort to help those with the duty to provide reasonable security with a better understanding of the kinds of steps they may need to take to limit their liability for the criminal acts of others. Understanding the general principles applied by our judicial system in assessing liability for security negligence can be helpful in determining the nature of a security obligation, how to assess security risks, the choices available for providing reasonable security under differing circumstances, determining insurance coverage and understanding the many other elements of a sound security program. The material provided here is offered as a guide to understanding what needs to be considered in developing a sound security program and is not intended to serve as either advice on issues of law or as the last word in developing a security program. In each case it is recommended that the reader consult an attorney or a qualified security practitioner concerning the issues unique to your setting.

Public Law Enforcement
The first duty of government is to protect the public from harm. In order to fulfill its duty to protect against the harm caused by the criminal activity, a vast contingent of law enforcement personnel has been assembled to prevent crime from occurring and to apprehend those who violate the nation’s criminal laws. As is the case with private sector security, public law enforcement is faced with new challenges bringing the potential for violence against the public on a scale which transcends the jurisdictional boundaries which in the past provided for a more orderly policing process to occur. Today not only are state and federal responsibilities overlapping but public and private sector policing duties arising from mutual obligations to the public are similarly raising legal issues. Whether as the result of an act of man or of God, multiple public and private security agencies can be called into action on a moments notice raising issues of command and control never before anticipated; as well as challenging conventionally held views on arrest, detention, use of force and exceptions to constitutional rights never before in issue.

This section will attempt to raise some of the many legal issues affecting the role of public enforcement under current circumstances in which potential mass casualties are at issue. FRAC will try to keep you current on the new strategies being undertaken to apprehend criminals on all levels as well as the new technologies being employed in the war on crime and terrorism which have been raising questions concerning the privacy and other rights of the general public.

As is the case with private sector security legal issues, the section is created to provide insights into issues affecting public law enforcement and security and is not offered as legal advice on specific issues of concern to readers. For direction in the development of policy and training on legal issues of security for law enforcement personnel and agencies the advice of qualified legal counsel should be sought.