Legal to Search after Detention

Posted on: by Robert C Smith | No Comments

Our Twitter Pole ended a few days ago and I wanted to explain the pole and give the correct answer.

24 years ago I started Nightlife Security Consultants (NSC) after realizing a “bouncer” or hospitality security guard was so important but they were given ZERO training. I found that most of their training was provided from on the job training, uneducated rumors and incorrect stories.

At NSC, we have been training on this particular topic for nearly 24 years. We are not wrong and have never, in 24 years, been told by any law enforcement agency, any official, or any legal group we are wrong. Here is the real BOTTOM LINE.

The 4th Amendment of the Constitution protects anyone in the United States from unlawful search and seizure from a government agency. “GOVERNMENT AGENCY”, not private individuals acting on their own.

Seems simple, right? It is that simple. A hospitality employee, a bar security guard is working as a private citizen and the rules of the 4th Amendment do not apply. And when we discuss “searching” we mean, checking the entire waistband, front and back, feeling both entire ankle areas and reaching in all pockets of pants, hoodies or jackets. And please, if you think we’re wrong, before you comment, please read the 4th Amendment outline we’ve attached at the end of this article or find any other outline of it and you’ll see we’re not wrong. We understand your management or ownership might not want to follow our training, but that does not make us wrong.

SO, in our Twitter poll, the answer is YES, you can search the guest who has been legally detained for fighting. No problem at all, nothing illegal about it. And, this important and simple action can actually save lives. If you’ve ever attended our 1 or 2 day training you’ll understand the next paragraph already.

Related to Active Shootings, the second most common bar or club shooting comes from the guest who is in a fight inside the club or bar. Security steps in, grabs them, holds them and escorts them outside. This is a real detention or citizen’s arrest. Nobody has to go to jail, but that’s a different discussion. Once the guest is outside on the sidewalk or parking lot, guards let them to and the angry and intoxicated guests pulls out their gun and starts shooting.

Had guards and management knew searching was legal, the guest would have been searched after being detained, the gun would have been found and the result; NO SHOOTING.

Remember, if you have made a legal detention, you have nothing to worry about regarding holding, moving or searching that guest. No matter what your local beat cop might say. And, just to be clear, to avoid potential false claims, men should search men and women should search women.

Ok, that answers the Twitter Pole question. But, let me tie this in to a larger issue; the recent shooting incident by a 6 year old student in Newport News, Virginia.

Read the story and you’ll find that they (teachers and administrators) had multiple chances to SEARCH this student for the weapon. Remember, he threatened to use it and even showed another student the gun… but they did not search the student. WHY?

My gut feeling based on 20 years of police work and 24 years of nightlife security training, the staff at that school feared the possible illegal search of that child. Think about it… if they search the 6 year old, they find the gun and the teacher is not shot. WHAT ELSE WOULD HAPPEN? Nothing.

OK… that’s it for now. Here is a simple overview of the 4th Amendment if you want to read it. Remember, after any legal detention, please search the guest for weapons. Good luck and stay safe.

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