Private guards have limits to authority
The other day, I saw some Kahala Mall security guards detaining a man for police after some alleged infraction. The police were not there yet. What authority do security guards have to detain people? What can they legally do if the customer tries to leave? Can they put their hands on someone?
Answer: Security guards have the "authority to arrest, without a warrant, anyone in the act of committing a crime."
The scope of their authority is covered under the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Administrative Rules, specifically Title 17, Chapter 97, dealing with Private Detective and Guards.
Security guards also, "for good cause, may stop and frisk any person found on the premises which are being guarded," if they suspect a crime has been or is about to be committed.
However, they do not have the authority to "interrogate, question, or in any way abuse the civil rights of a person arrested, detained, or found on the premises which are being guarded," and any person they arrest "shall be immediately turned over to the appropriate governmental authorities."
Security guards also are not supposed to carry firearms, blackjacks, batons, nightsticks or other weapons, unless specifically authorized in writing by the police chief of the county in which they are employed.
State law defines a guard, in uniform or not, as someone who is compensated for safekeeping a client's person and property, "within contractually prescribed boundaries, and for observation and reporting relative to the safekeeping of that person or property."
Among other things, the definition does not include someone hired "solely by an employer in connection with the affairs of the employer."
Security guards are not required to be licensed by the state, although they are required to meet minimum qualifications: have an eighth-grade education; not have any psychiatric or psychological disorder; not have been convicted of a crime "which reflects unfavorably on the fitness of the employee to engage in the profession"; and be registered with the state Board of Private Detectives and Guards.
However, Section 463-8 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes requires that a security company, and the principal guard of that company, be licensed by the board.
The principal guard is responsible for overseeing the training and conduct of guards in the company.
Q: I need to get a reconstructed-vehicle permit for a lifted truck. Do you have a phone number and location?
A: For information about what vehicles require a reconstructed vehicle permit, call the city Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division at 532-7700, ext. 261.
The Motor Vehicle Reconstruction Permit Station is at 1112 Kapahulu Ave., under the H-1 freeway.
Inspections for permits are by appointment only. Call 733-2542 to schedule an appointment between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays, except for state holidays.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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