Private Investigations and Personal Security/Can a security guard restrain you?


With no intent of making an arrest, only the intent of asking for ID or other documentation, can a security guard forcibly detain you on the private property they guard?

(Specifically, I was walking through my private college campus with a computer part, as I've done many times given that I work with computers, when I was asked for an ID and a permit for the part. I refused to show either and was prevented from continuing on my way by a security guard that stood in my path and used her larger size to intimidate me. She then held me back with force to prevent me from continuing.)

Hello Michelle,

As a general rule, private security guards can't use force unless as a means of self defense.  There are many exceptions to this, though.  It doesn't sound like your example falls under one of the exceptions, having said that.  I would contact the supervisor for the security company and report the incident and also speak to someone from the college you are attending.  

Also understand that these people have a job to do and it sounds like that was the intent.  In the future, it might be easier to just show your ID to avoid a confrontation like this.  Either way, it doesn't sound like she was right by using force with you.

I hope this helps answer your question!

Wishing you good health and happiness,

Private Investigations and Personal Security

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Sean Carroll


I can answer just about any question which relates to police work, personal security, home & business security, or general law.


I am a 9 year veteran of a major metropolitan police department as a Major Crimes Detective. I have prior experience in the private security sector as well. I also previously owned a security solutions business where we specialized in digital security and surveillance systems including residential and commercial alarms.

I have both a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in Criminal Justice.

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