Private security officers are essential for any business that wants to protect its product, facilities, customers and employees. These security officers work for every kind of business (sometimes in-house and sometimes for private security firms) and perform a variety of jobs, depending on what they are protecting and how they need to protect it.
Many businesses located in large offices will hire a security officer to work in the lobby, either before business hours or around the clock. The security officer is in charge of ensuring that everyone who enters the workplace has a legitimate reason to be there and of keeping track of when each person came and left. The security officer is sometimes required by the client to check visitors for weapons or other dangerous materials.
Some businesses (or places of residence, such as subdivisions) have large, gated entrances. The security officer keeps watch over the gate and, like the lobby security officer, ensures that all who enter are allowed to do so. Gate security officers also keep detailed logs of who enters and vacates the property and when.
Retail stores often hire plainclothes security officers to catch shoplifters. These employees walk around the stores as if they were customers, watch for suspicious activity and monitor the store's cameras and security mirrors.
Any time there are a large number of people in a given place, event security officers will be there. They work at concerts, sporting events, nightclubs and shopping malls. They are in charge of maintaining an orderly crowd, preventing theft, preventing and breaking up fights and assisting those who have become separated from their group.
With the continual popularity of Internet shopping and banking, many companies have hired Internet security officers to ensure their money is safe. Often, companies will hire former computer hackers (designers of dangerous computer software such as viruses and spyware) who are familiar with the mindset of those who wish to commit crimes via computer.
Although many private security officers are either off-duty or retired law-enforcement officers, they carry limited legal ability. A security officer who catches someone stealing from a store may detain that person for questioning but may not file formal criminal charges--that task is left to local law enforcement. Security officers carry varying amounts of weaponry, depending on the environment they are protecting, the value of what they are protecting and the means commonly used to steal it. Bank security officers, for example, often carry guns. Retail theft-prevention officers, lobby security and Internet security officers generally do not.
Anyone who is hired to protect something could be considered private security. A bodyguard, for example, is a private security officer.