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Are "safety" pat-downs by security legal?

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  • Are "safety" pat-downs by security legal?

    This was inspired by HotelSecurity's thread about the Florida court ruling on stadium security.

    Say I have someone detained, NOT arrested. I'm only questioning them about a particular incident, suspicious condition, etc. Am I legally allowed to pat this person down for my safety?

  • #2
    I have no idea about without consent in New York. With consent, then yes, you can search them to any level they are comfortable with.

    I know that Terry Stop and Frisk laws only apply to government agents.

    Basically, the answer is "no," unless New York has some strange law.
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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    • #3
      I only know California law, but it seems consensual contact is just that, consensual. Just because the consensual contact was a search of ones person does not make it illegal. Where it may get weird is when someone could not give consent.

      California Security Blog
      Domain Registration Services

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      • #4
        In Canada following an arrest you may search to protect yourself only.
        I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
        Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

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        • #5
          In California, you can search a person you have detained, but for weapons only. You also must be able to articulate why you thought the person was armed.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the replies.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by histfan71
              In California, you can search a person you have detained, but for weapons only. You also must be able to articulate why you thought the person was armed.
              Colorado Law is the same.
              Deputy Sheriff

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              • #8
                Be patdowns legal or not, I will attest to how important maintaining proper distance between yourself and any suspect is, as well as watching their hands at all times.
                I say this because this past weekend, I caught a problem individual in our campground out after curfew twice in one night. Luckily due to good documentation of when and where I found him, we were able to place him at the scene of a burglary which he later confessed to. Now the kicker is, this individual is a young juvenile, who I later found out had been concealing a 12" bowie knife underneath the long baggy shirts he always wore.

                Pocket knives are tools, but I can only think of a couple reasons for a juvenile carrying a hunting knife in a gated community, and neither are very legal.

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                • #9
                  You always want to maintain 'Officer Safety Distance" when working around any of them. But when it comes time to arrest, do so carefully, and checking for weapons is always a good idea, as you dont want PD showing up to pick your subject up, and instead calling for medical for you!

                  I have some really cool picks and what nots I would like to get out here, for FYI. We just went through edged weapon safety training with PD. Its pretty crazy what a knife will do to a person!

                  I have to make sure its OK to post them first, as they are quite graphic!
                  Deputy Sheriff

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Marchetti, David, M
                    My experience in reference to pat downs is if your making an arrest yes you may conduct cursory one primarily for weapons. You can not just do a pat down of the general public unless it’s posted that they agree upon entering a business property to such search of their person or property. I worked for a gov subcontractor that required us to check all packages, etc. Under the federal guidelines I am pretty sure they had to have it posted.
                    That's my understanding as well. The security companies that I have worked for recommend that you ask the individual to open their vehicle doors, trunk, glove box, etc., and move items out of the way instead of actually touching their property for routine access control searches. The same is true of bags, purses, pockets, etc. They have the right to refuse, in which case you have the right to show them out the door/gate.

                    I know that procedures are different for detainment/arrest. Obviously, you don't want them reaching for ANYTHING (except the sky ) in such instances.
                    Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

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                    • #11
                      We opperate on the same standards, and search only for weapons. In that, any one invlved in a crime, or violation that has resulted in an arrest, we may search for weapons. Many times, we will uncover narcotics during this search, such as being able to determine the item in the pocket is not a weapon, but its unmistakable as to what it is. We like to leave that type of material on the subject, and place them in restraints, to avoid them dumping it. Once LE arrives, we uncover the hidden items. Then there is no litagatiion.

                      When it comes to vehicles, only on a very few occassions, and I mean so small of a level, have we ever asked to search a vehicle, with consent. We, stating myself, my corporate, and especially my officers, do not like searching vehicles. If we believe a weapon remains in the vehicle, then extracting the arrested subject from the vehicle and keeping them away from the ability to retrieve, is the best policy. We tend to make alot of arrests, just due to the pure stupidity of subjects in our area, so search practice is common. I prefer every one to do their job safely, and come back to work the next day, not reside in a local medical facility!
                      Deputy Sheriff

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                      • #12
                        Airport

                        The aeronautics act gives airport security the mandate to do pat downs in Canada, but we still have to ask the pax(passenger) if we can do a physical search.

                        John

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AirportSecurity
                          The aeronautics act gives airport security the mandate to do pat downs in Canada, but we still have to ask the pax(passenger) if we can do a physical search.

                          John
                          And it's simple. They can refuse, in which case they don't get on the plane, right?
                          I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                          Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

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                          • #14
                            Exactly the point, you are using a tactic that we use as well. Private property is that, private, and no person shall acrue any rights by entering. the ol "you dont like, dont come here" method!
                            Deputy Sheriff

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                            • #15
                              In all the years I worked in the security profession, I did many pat down searches looking for weapons, and never once was it questioned by anyone, be it the subjects I searched, the LE authorities, or the courts.

                              If it was ever questioned, I would have simply replied that it was for everyones' safety, to include the subject.

                              I've worked these concerts, etc., where it was clearly posted that you must submit to a search prior to being admitted, and they were scanned with a metal detecting wand. Upon the detector sounding off, and nothing was surrendered prior to or upon discovery, those people were frisked by a security staffer of the same gender. What really works good are these "amnesty barrels" right in front of the checkpoint. Amazing what you find in those(those items were confiscated by the PD).

                              But what it all boils down to is, "better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6."
                              Never make a drummer mad; we beat things for a living!

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