Many colleges employ security guards to help govern the actions of students who live on campus. But how much power do they have?
Say you’re accused by your RA of drinking in your dorm. The RA calls the security officer. You just stay in your dorm, insisting that you’re not doing anything wrong. Can the security officer come in and make an arrest based on those allegations?
Are they actually police officers?
It’s important to know who these security officers really are. Some schools employ real police officers who can make arrests just like those in any other jurisdiction. If the officer at your school is part of a local department, they can arrest you if they have the grounds to do so — which is another question entirely.
If the officers are actually just security guards, they may have far less power. They’re more similar to the security guards at the mall. They do not have the power to make an arrest. What they may be able to do, however, is detain you while they contact the actual police department. Once the actual police officer arrives, they can decide if an arrest is warranted.
You need to know your rights
When you’re detained by a campus officer, the situation can get complicated. Did a security guard violate your rights before the police even arrived? Maybe you don’t believe they had the authority to detain you or a valid reason to do so. What does this mean for the legality of the detainment and the subsequent arrest? Can officers’ mistakes get evidence thrown out of court? If you have questions, it’s important to seek answers and learn as much as you can about your options for a defense.