Security Guards vs Off-Duty Police

Security Guards vs Off-Duty Police

Why Off-Duty Law Enforcement Officers May Not Be the Best Fit

When it comes to hiring security personnel, many consider off-duty law enforcement officers (LEOs) due to their training and experience. However, there are essential factors to bear in mind before making this decision.

Disclaimer: Before delving into the reasons, it’s crucial to clarify that the points discussed below are not intended as a critique of law enforcement officers or agencies. We maintain positive relationships with all law enforcement entities and greatly appreciate their service to our communities.

1. Authority and Responsibilities

Contrary to common misconceptions, a law enforcement officer working off-duty operates with less authority than a commissioned security officer hired for the same task. While LEOs may have broader authority in their official capacity, when off-duty, they function as private citizens, subject to the same legal limitations as any other private citizen.

2. Overworked Officers

Off-duty law enforcement officers have already completed a full 40-hour workweek before taking on private security duties. This raises concerns about fatigue and whether overworked armed officers are the optimal choice for your security needs or event.

3. Lack of Oversight

Unlike commissioned security officers who operate under specific contracts and oversight, off-duty LEOs work independently, outside the direct supervision of their employing agency. This lack of oversight can result in issues related to punctuality and adherence to contractual obligations.

4. Legal Obligations

Off-duty law enforcement officers are legally bound to prioritize enforcing the law over the specific needs of the client. For example, if a criminal activity occurs within their view, an LEO must act as required by the law, potentially conflicting with the client’s interests outlined in the security contract.

5. Use of Governmental Equipment

The use of governmental equipment, such as firearms and handcuffs, by off-duty LEOs may be restricted by the policies of their employing agency. This limitation could impact the effectiveness of the security measures they can provide.

6. Liability Concerns

Unlike on-duty law enforcement, off-duty LEOs are not covered by the liability protections of their employing governmental agency. In the event of incidents, the responsibility falls on the person or company that hired them, raising potential liability concerns.


While the idea of hiring off-duty law enforcement officers for private security needs may seem appealing, it’s essential to consider the limitations and potential drawbacks outlined above. Opting for commissioned security officers ensures clarity in authority, oversight, and adherence to contractual obligations, providing a more tailored and reliable security solution for your specific requirements.