Maryland legislators say they will push for greater regulation of longstanding but little-known laws that allow security guards to be granted law enforcement powers to arrest and search citizens, reports the Baltimore Sun. “If special police make sense, if they’re necessary, and if they really do provide enhanced public safety, then at a minimum there needs to be oversight, accountability, training, and qualifications that are set by the state,” said state Sen. Brian Frosh, who chairs the Judicial Proceedings Committee.
For decades, “special police” — security guards with police powers — have provided an extra layer of eyes and ears on the streets, supplementing the sworn police force at no cost to taxpayers and protecting some of Baltimore’s most venerable institutions. City and state police, who have separate laws authorizing special police, do not provide or require training of the officers, do not monitor their actions, and do not generally investigate complaints against them. Employers are responsible for oversight, and the state and city have no liability for their actions after granting them the authority to take police action. Local residents filed suit this summer, saying security officers working for a property management company have been “terrorizing” citizens and exceeding their authority, often in concert with city police.