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The CONS office I work in is preparing for the upcoming missile maintenance season. The schedule is short due to the harsh climate here so maintenance will be conducted on a 24/7 basis. This year due to reductions in blue suit personnel we have been tasked to contract for security support. If I read the tasking right the security forces we hire will provide perimeter surveillance and can apprehend any unauthorized person who enters a site. What?s not clear is whether these security forces need written orders signed by a CO in order to arrest an intruder and if we should provide them some type of badge so they can identify themselves as a military security contractor. Someone in our office mentioned there is a law against the military from enforcing laws on non-federal property. The majority of the sites are on private (leased) land.

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Guest Vern Edwards
What?s not clear is whether these security forces need written orders signed by a CO in order to arrest an intruder and if we should provide them some type of badge so they can identify themselves as a military security contractor.

You have asked questions abut a very complex matter.

I contracted for base security services as an Air Force contracting officer and had many of the same questions you have. The place to go for answers to your questions is your JAG office. Much depends on where you are and on international/Federal/state/local jurisdictional relationships, and those relationships are often more complicated than you might think. Wifcon is not the place to come for help. You will get many opinions, some of which might sound reasonable but will in fact be dubious. Anyone who has contracted for such services at a military installation and who has dealt with these matters will tell you: Go to the JAG. Go directly to the JAG. Do not pass Go. If they cannot or will not help you, go to the chief of the contracting office and tell him or her that you need help.

I will say this much: Contractor security personnel ordinarily should be immediately identifiable as such and a badge and uniform are the traditional ways to make them so. Those things are usually provided by the contractor, not the government, but the government can specify the appearance of those things. Note the way I'm fudging: "ordinarily" "usually".

As for "arrest" authority and "enforcing laws," "arrest" can be a surprisingly tricky word with serious legal implications and there can be a big difference between providing security and enforcing laws. Note the fudge: "can be".

By the way: you might learn that what the commander and the chief of security want and what the JAG will go along with might be two very different things.

I have been where you are and will give you the best advice possible:

Go to the JAG.

Go to the JAG.

Go to the JAG.

By the way: the local JAG may have to do some homework and consult with his or her superiors in order to answer your questions, so be patient. The Air Force has a lot of experience in contracting for security. There will be people in the Air Force who can answer your questions.

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Guest Vern Edwards

I doubt that posse comitatus will have much to do with contracted security. That law prohibits certain military personnel from acting as members of a posse. The Act, 18 USC 1385, says:

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Posse comitatus is Latin for "power of the county." Black's Law Dictionary 9th defines it as follows:

A group of citizens who are called together to help the sheriff keep the peace or conduct rescue operations. ? Often shortened to posse.

The law does not apply to the Navy, Coast Guard, or National Guard. (I don't know why it mentions only the Army and the Air Force.)

In my limited experience, contract security guards have only the power to make a citizen's arrest. They get no power of arrest from or through the federal government. But that depends in large measure on jurisdictional.

In the military, "arrest" has a special meaning under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It means restraint by order. Military police do not arrest, they "apprehend." Military personnel nabbed by the MPs are "under apprehension," not under arrest. A person is put under arrest by order of any commissioned officer or commander, depending on their rank, which means that their movements are restricted to a specific area, often to "quarters." Under the UCMJ, arrest is not punishment. "Confinement" is physical restraint.

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I doubt that posse comitatus will have much to do with contracted security. That law prohibits certain military personnel from acting as members of a posse. The Act, 18 USC 1385, says:

Posse comitatus is Latin for "power of the county." Black's Law Dictionary 9th defines it as follows:

The law does not apply to the Navy, Coast Guard, or National Guard. (I don't know why.)

I'm not sure about the Navy or the Coast Guard, but I think it doesn't apply to the National Guard because the National Guard isn't considered to be either federal or military.

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What?s not clear is whether these security forces need written orders signed by a CO in order to arrest an intruder and if we should provide them some type of badge so they can identify themselves as a military security contractor.

Also, there's a big difference in contracting for armed security and the security contractor having the local authority to "arrest" an intruder on foreign soil.

You need to call the pros on this one.

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  • 1 month later...

I have a similar contract for security. The Contractor patrols inside as well as some of the perimeter. What the Government and contractor does is coordinate with the local police. The Contractor can detain under the authority of the director or designated appointee for the area for appropriate investigation and disposition. The Contractors wears a complete uniform.

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