The vigils were the soldiers assigned to guard the city of Rome, and are often credited as the origin of both security guards and police, although their principal duty was as a fire brigade. There have been night watchmen since the middle Ages in Europe. A special chair appeared in Europe sometimes in the late middle Ages, called the watchman's chair; which had a forward slanting seat to prevent the watchman from dozing off during his watch.

Walk into a shopping mall, a cinema hall, or an airport, you'll spot them right away. Armed security guards are standing at the main gate and keeping a close vigilance at all happenings. Security guards are everywhere and with keeping in view today have increased security concerns, their numbers are growing.

A security guard is a privately employed person who is paid to protect the property of the concern, assets, or people. Often, security guard are uniformed and used to protect property by keeping a high vigilance to detect illegal and inappropriate actions either directly, through patrols, or with the help of alarm systems or video cameras for signs of crime, fire or disorder and then take action by reporting emergency services or as appropriate.

Most of the security departments practice the "detect, deter, observe and report" methodology. Security guards need not make arrests but they act as an agent of law enforcement at the request of a police officer.

It has not noticed that the presence of security personnel in combination with effective security procedures, tend to diminish theft, employee misconduct and safety rule violations or property damage. Most of the casinos hire security guards to protect money when transferring it from the casino to the casino's bank.

Armed security officers are frequently required to assist in law enforcement until the situation is under control or the public authorities arrive on the scene. Apart from taking it as a carrier, some security guards, young people in particular, use the job as practical experience to use in applying to law enforcement agencies.

There is a big difference between persons performing the duties associated with watchmen and persons who take a more active role in protecting persons and property. The former one is often called as "guards," and are taught the mantra "observer and report." These are minimally trained, and are not expected to deal with the public or confront criminals. The latter are often highly trained, armed, and are more likely to interact with the general public and to confront the criminal element. These employees may tend to take pride in the titles such as "Security Officer" or "Protection Officer" or are just referred as "security guards."

Unfortunately, many times there is no relationship between duties performed and compensation as many mall "security guards" who are exposed to serious risks make less per hour than "industrial security guards" with less training and responsibility. Security personnel are the private citizens, and therefore are bound by the same laws and regulations as the citizens that they contracted to serve, and therefore are not allowed to represent themselves as law enforcement under penalty of law.

Some states do deputize security officers and give them limited additional powers, particularly when employed in protecting public property such as mass transit stations. This is a special case and is often limited to a particular jurisdiction or locale.

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