Who Should I Hire? Civilian Security vs. Off-Duty/Prior Police

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Send via Email
security guard

Civilian Security vs. Off-Duty/Prior Police

Civilian Security vs. Off-Duty/Prior Police

You’re considering hiring some type of security personnel for your business. Have you asked yourself, “who should I hire? Civilian Security vs. Off-Duty/Prior Police”?  Depending on the type of security needed, you can hire either a civilian security guard (i.e., a person unaffiliated with law enforcement that is experienced in unarmed/armed security matters) or an off-duty, prior, or retired police officer.

While both security professionals offer protection, there are key differences between them in the training they go through, their experience and their cost. Consider the differences below:


Regardless of the particular situation you’re hiring for, it’s critical to understand the individual’s qualifications and skill set. As a general rule, civilian security guards can acquire licensure with 0-18 hours of training, depending on the jurisdiction where they will be located. Because of the relative ease of acquiring a license, security guards can be a great option for a low key event or a specific job. Civilian security guards can specialize in offering security for special events (e.g. concerts) and low risk patrols of shopping centers and residential areas.

On the other hand, police officers tend to have more extensive training backgrounds. On average, they spend 6-9 months in an academy, with 40+ hours of in-service training every year throughout their career. Maintaining a high skill level in all aspects of law enforcement is part and parcel of their job. Their extensive training makes off-duty and prior officers particularly capable of handling high-pressure situations such as employee terminations, workplace threats, executive and dignitary protection scenarios, cannabis cultivation centers or domestic violence situations to name a few.


In addition to having extensive training, police officers also have significant experience handling a myriad of types of critical situations. This combination of training and field experience can be comforting for a business owner. In particularly serious security scenarios, companies can employ off-duty and prior police officers that have been a part of hostage team or executive protection detail.

Since licensing for security guards differs by jurisdiction, you’ll want to know what you’re looking for before hiring a civilian security guard. For example, if you’re hosting a concert, you’ll want someone who has experience working in this type of environment. While security guards may not have as much technical experience as off-duty police officers, their life experience can play a large role in their success.


Civilian security guards generally don’t have the training and experience of off-duty and prior  police officers. Therefore they are generally a more economical option. So if you require security services infrequently for low-risk events, then civilian security can be a smart choice.  

Off-duty and prior police officers generally come at a higher price because they have extensive training and experience. However, if your scenario requires their expertise, the cost could be well worth it. For example, if an employee is embroiled in domestic violence, and you fear it spilling over into the office and potentially resulting in property damage, then hiring an off-duty officer could save you money in the long run.

Hiring security personnel requires serious consideration of what you really need from a security guard. Depending on the situation, one type of security may be more effective than the other. SMART Security Pros is a provider of armed security services utilizing only active/retired/prior law enforcement officers as well as Remote Guard Video Surveillance services including construction sites and tradeshows.  Shawn Scarlata is the Founder/CEO and the author of this post.

Let's Get Started

Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch shortly!

  • Hidden

Let's Get Started