Offense Recognition Scenarios

Offense recognition FAQs can, possibly, be best dealt with by examining scenarios. Certainly, in my experience, student retention of studied materials is higher as the student then has a memory peg/incident they can readily recall. Use of force is the last, and least desirable, step in an arrest or eviction process. In order to be sure that you have lawfully reached that point and have the requisite authorities to act, you must first be able to recognize when an offense has been committed.

For confident and competent offense recognition you will have to be able to point to the elements of the offense and, correctly, identify the offense as per its' classification as summary, dual or indictable. Civilians do not have arrest authority for summary offenses. Dual and indictable offenses are treated as "indictable for the purposes of arrest".

Section 494(2) of the Canadian Criminal Code-Offense Recognition

You are in your home alone one evening when you hear a crash in your garage. You walk towards the door in the kitchen that leads into the garage. For a moment you think a cat might have just gotten into the garbage in you garage, so you open the door to investigate. You reach over to turn on the light and to your surprise you discover an unknown male in your garage and helping himself to your car. You see the subject is attempting to hot wire your car as the ignition wires are hanging from the console. This male is slouched over just inside the driver's door.

As a citizen do you have the authority to arrest?

Identify the offense (offense recognition) - Theft
Is it a criminal law? - Yes
Classify it! - Indictable
Is the offense occurring right now? - Yes in the present
Who am I? Citizen and a property owner
Do I have authority to arrest for this offense? Yes

So, you have:
Found committing an indictable offense (theft) or (breaking and entering)
Found committing a criminal offense on, or in relation to your property.
Should I arrest for this offense? I am permitted by law, but perhaps startling him could be dangerous.
Options: Call the police and wait, arrest him if he starts to leave if it is safe to do so and you are capable, yell and back off to prevent further theft or damage.

One hot summer afternoon you decide to take your friend's brand new car out for a drive. After all it is a convertible and it is a very sunny day...your friend did leave you the keys for the car telling you since you were house sitting that you could use it any time, just be careful.You park the car downtown in a very safe spot while you run a few errands. As you are returning to your car you notice a female unknown to you kicking in the driver's door. The damage is clearly noticeable to you.

As a citizen, can you arrest?

Yes. Found committing.

You are sitting in the park along the water's edge watching all the beautiful boats pass by you. You are startled by a loud piercing scream of a woman yelling, "Help me! Stop that man, he just stole my purse!" You turn around and see a female running after a male. You chase the male and female. You run past the female, catching up to the male.

As a citizen, can you arrest the male?

Yes, you can arrest under 494 (1) You can assist a person who has the lawful authority (the female) to effect her arrest, (Fresh pursuit, Section 494 C.C.) provided that you believe on reasonable grounds a criminal offense has taken place. In this case the grounds are strong.

Release to a Peace Officer

494 (3) CC tells us that once an arrest is complete, an arrested person must be forthwith turned over to a peace officer.

You are sitting watching television one night when you see a special on regarding Canada's most wanted criminal. As the program profiles this criminal, you recognize this subject as the neighbour who just moved in last week next door to you. This subject is wanted on warrant for murder.

As a citizen can you arrest the subject?

No, you can’t. You have no authority to arrest anyone for an outstanding warrant. Only a police officer is permitted to arrest for a warrant.

Answer the following questions; You are a security officer. Can you arrest?

You observe a youth kicking out the tail light of your security vehicle.

Yes. Found committing indictable offense of mischief.

You observe a youth spray painting the side of a public building.

Yes. Found committing the indictable offense of mischief.

While at work in a building you are guarding the charity coin box is stolen off the counter. You review the security tape and identify the person as an employee. Can you arrest him the next time you see him?

No. The theft was not found committing. Call the police.

While on the way to work you observe a person expose himself to a woman at a bus shelter.

No. Found committing criminal offense, but not on or in relation to any property you own or are guarding and this is a summary conviction offense. (Police authority not civilian).

As a civilian authority, what are you legally required to do once you have arrested someone?

Turn them over to the police forthwith.

You are working as corporate security in a public building. You encounter two young males outside on your property fighting. You and your partner separate them. You have not made an arrest. They state the fight was over a girlfriend and that they both consented to fight and arranged to meet. There are no injuries.

What is the offense?

Causing a Disturbance by fighting.

Do you have an arrest authority?Yes

On your regular security patrol, for a large retail store, a customer tells you that some young males are scratching graffiti onto the bathroom stalls. You investigate and catch (find committing) three young males doing exactly that.

What is the offense?Mischief to Property

Do you have an arrest authority?Yes

You are working as a uniformed security officer at a Transit Terminal. A highly intoxicated male has used an expired transfer pass to enter onto a bus. He was belligerent and abusive with the driver when challenged. You are called to assist. You arrest the drunk, but as you are evicting him from the bus he begins to struggle to get away from you.

Is there an offense?Yes

What is the offense?Causing a disturbance by being drunk.

Was this arrest lawful?

Maybe **** If the Transit Authority owns, rents, or has another legal authority on the property then yes. If they do not have legal status on the property or this occurred on the route) then remember, the bus is a vessel if it is in service but it is property on its own property or when out of service (motor off). Know your authorities!

You are working in uniform as uniformed security, driving a mobile patrol vehicle and checking properties. As you pull onto a client’s property to check it, you observe a broken window at ground level. You report this to dispatch and begin to walk around the building.

You hear an audible alarm begin to sound and a youth runs out a side door right in front of you. The youth drops a computer he is carrying and continues running. You catch the youth immediately. You identify yourself, and tell the youth he is under arrest.

Is there an offense?


What is the offense?

Break, Enter and Theft

Was this arrest lawful?


You are working as uniformed security, you enter a washroom, in your assigned building, to investigate because you hear yelling. You see a female guest crying, her blouse is torn, and the rest of her clothing is disheveled. She tells you that she’s been assaulted. Your complainant and another woman are only yelling when you enter. She points at the other woman and says “she assaulted me.”

What offense did you find being committed?

Causing a Disturbance

Can you arrest?

Yes (T.P.A.)

Can you assist the woman make an arrest?

Yes (for the assault). You are working as a security officer at a transit terminal. One of the managers told you that yesterday, on your day off, a youth spray painted cars in the parking lot. The manager wants you to make regular patrols outside. During one of your patrols you see and capture a youth spray painting the exterior of a building.

Is there an offense?Yes.

What is it?

It is mischief to property under five thousand dollars.

Do you have an arrest authority?

You found this indictable offense being committed on or in relation to the property you are guarding, so therefore you have an arrest authority.

What is the most appropriate action?

You may arrest, take the spray can, call the police and complete a full report.

You are working as a uniformed security officer on a client's site. Smoking is prohibited on this site. Signs are posted all entry points. You observe a male sitting inside the building smoking a cigar.

Is there an offense?


What is it?

Most appropriately, this is a trespassing offense as the male is engaging in a prohibited activity on the property you are guarding.

Do you have an arrest authority?

Yes, you do have an arrest authority under the Trespass to Property Act.

What is the most appropriate action?

The most appropriate course of action would be to ask the man to leave. If he refuses, you may choose to arrest him and/or ban him from the premises. If you arrest him, the police must be called.

You are employed as a uniformed security officer. While working evening shift, a woman enters your site and begins shouting obscenities. She is apparently suffering from some sort of mental illness. You ask her to stop shouting or she will be required to leave. She becomes more agitated and starts throwing display items off of the shelves, breaking several dozen small items.

Is there an offense?

Yes, there are two applicable offenses.

What are they?

Both trespassing and mischief apply. The woman is damaging merchandise/property which is the indictable offense of mischief. This is also a prohibited activity and is arrestable under the Trespass to Property Act.

What is the most appropriate action?

Her actions may warrant an arrest to protect the property and to prevent injury to her and others.
Her apparent mental illness does not prohibit her arrest, but it may be a defense to her care if she goes to court.
Good judgement may also dictate that you do not further agitate the situation by forcing an arrest, and risk injury to all involved.
If you decide on the latter, call the police, talk with the woman (if you can),observe and report on all that follows and turn the matter over to the Police when they arrive. You are working as security for a special events concert. You are concerned about weapons, drugs and alcohol being brought into your licensed event. You post signs advising everyone entering your event that searching and wanding of their persons and property will be an entry requirement. A patron refuses to be searched and starts yelling that this contravenes his Charter Rights.

Has an offense been committed?

Is entry to your, private, licensed event not now a “prohibited activity”, unless searched? Yes!
Is this patron now creating a disturbance? Is that a “prohibited activity”? Yes!
So you have two Trespass to Property Act offenses to chose from (or combine).

Can you arrest them? You can arrest them (remember; can you, would you, should you are quite different considerations and you must be able to articulate affirmatively to each.)

Can you search them anyway?

No! You can search them only if you arrest them on the TPA offenses. No arrest no search. They are, in fact, refusing a consent search. If you arrest them you can search them only for weapons.

Can you, legally, refuse this person entry to your event?

Absolutely you can, legally, refuse them entry. Even if they are quiet and polite about their refusal, it is a condition of entry therefore, provided the searches being done are reasonable, no search, no admission.

If they continue to act out or refuse, can you remove them forcibly?

This is a licensed event, so you have the Liqour License Act authority to use force, if necessary, to remove unwanted persons from your premise. Under the L.L.A. you can remove them without arresting them.

While working as loss prevention at a store, you and your partner observe a suspect remove merchandise from a package and pocket it. You check the package and note that it and several others appear to have been cut open. The packages remain on the shelves but the contents of each are gone. You and your partner continue to observe he subject. Eventually he pays for some chocolate bars and exits the store.

Outside the store you approach him, identify yourselves and your positions with the store/employer and advise him that you observed him take goods for which he did not pay. (Charter Approach: "Hi. My name is...I work loss prevention and we are here because…") The spot where you stopped him is a good tactical location. In the parking lot, away from most people yet close enough to the building that you know that you are still on camera.

He tells you “you’ve got the wrong guy” and attempts to keep walking. Your partner blocks his path. Your partner radios your camera monitor/dispatch to call the police. You advise the subject that he is under arrest and read him his rights.

You further advise him of your observation that the packages were cut and your concern that he is carrying a weapon or potential weapon. You tell him that, for safety reasons, you are going to handcuff him and search him for that weapon before returning him to the store.

He replies that he will go back to the store but will not be searched nor handcuffed, “you’re not police! That’s against my rights!” Dispatch radios back that the police “are tied up and will be awhile”.

Is your arrest lawful?

Yes, the arrest is lawful.

What options do you now have for dealing with this subject?

Your options would include, but not limited to:

1 - Communicate with dispatch and the police, advise re: presence of 9-17 (knife), advise that the subject is non-compliant and that you are continuing the arrest.

2 - Tactical communication with the subject; state your safety concerns for walking him through the store and the fact that this is unacceptable legally, morally, and ethically to you.
Advise subject that for the reasons stated, you must now proceed with the arrest, order him to show you his hands, widen stance; continue the arrest

3 - Remain indefinitely in the parking lot until the police can arrive. (Not advisable but definitely an option)

4 - Ask him if there’s anything you can say or do that will convince him that it’s in his best interests and get him to comply.

5 - Take him down, use force to affect the arrest, handcuffing, and search.

6 - Assess his capability and all other impacting factors; consider disengagement.

IF he is willing to return to the store, are you justified in using force to apply the handcuffs and conduct your weapons search?

Your first responsibility remains the safety of all persons. Believing he is carrying a weapon, you cannot ignore that. Yes, you are justified.

What concerns and liabilities could you face by not cuffing or searching him and instead escorting him back through the store to await the police?

Once you make an arrest, the subject and anything they manage to do becomes your responsibility. If he injures someone else now, you are liable. Also, there’s every possibility he’s going to play for time until something distracts you and use that weapon on you or your partner. Either way, this risk ends in the parking lot.

Given that you have arrested him and the believed presence of a weapon, can you elect to disengage, letting him go?

While civilians have no catch and release provisions (when you make an arrest you must turn him over forthwith to the police, you can’t turn him loose). This does not preclude tactical safety considerations. Therefore, provided you can articulate the impacting factors that are your reason for disengaging, yes. You may disengage.

Bottom line, if he’s stolen a few dollars worth of merchandise, is that worth him, you, or someone else being injured or possibly killed?

Does he appear capable of inflicting this kind of damage?

You have him on camera, can you identify him later and have the police pick him up?

At which point, provided you didn’t tell him he could go, he has the additional charge of “escape lawful custody.” Always consider disengaging because the court will always ask you why you didn’t.

A company hires a 20 year old female to work security on a strike location. She is very friendly and presents as very efficient. C.C.T.V. surveillance cameras show her allowing striking workers into the plant to use the washrooms. Clearly she cannot stay on the picket line and escort these people to the washrooms, so she lets them through unescorted. She is also seen (on camera) taking her coffee breaks with the picketers. Concerned, management has internal security check on her further. It is learned that she spends her time off (personal time) socializing with the same strikers. She is called to the office and dismissed. Did she do anything illegal? Did she even, technically do anything wrong? Was her conduct unreasonable? Was her conduct unprofessional?

Was her dismissal justified and, if so, why?

Legally she did nothing wrong.

What was the perception of the company that hired her?

Not good! She was hired to protect their interests, and she actually increased their risk by allowing unescorted persons on site.

Although socializing off the job is also not illegal in any way, what is the perception of the strikers about the plant security?

Again, not good!

The company that hired her is justifiably now concerned about security breaches, specifically inside information passing to the wrong people during a strike that the officer may have access to.There is a saying in security. You can be "friendly but not friends" when it comes to dealing with the public on the job. This is called "professional distance." You will be entrusted with often sensitive information that may seem insignificant to you, but would be very useful in the wrong hands and detrimental to your employer's security interests and safety of those employed there.

Security professionals are hired by corporations as part of an overall corporate risk management plan.

What is risk?

Risk refers to the uncertainty that surrounds future events and outcomes. It is the expression of the likelihood and impact of an event with the potential to influence the achievement of an organization's objectives.

What is integrated risk management? Why does risk impact both the employer and employee?

Today, organizations are faced with many different types of risk (e.g., policy, program, operational, project, financial, human resources, technological, health, safety, political). Risks that present themselves on a number of fronts as well as high level, high impact risks demand a coordinated, systematic corporate response.

There is also a clear implication that risk management is everyone's business, since people at all levels can provide some insight into the nature, likelihood and impacts of risk.

As today's security professional assumes more and more of a role as "Private Policing", By-Law Enforcement and Parking Enforcement, for private and municipal corporations, they continue to become increasing at risk of being assaulted. What impact can personal/professional deportment play in increasing or decreasing these risks? What is meant by "Officer Presence"?

(An opinion question) Basically, professionalism will always decrease risks.

Four "bouncers" at a university bar have been told by the bar management that the bar policy is not to use force and that if they do so they will be fired!

These four bouncers are working on the entrance doors and witness a single young male patron run from the bar. He is pursued by four other males who catch up to him and assault him seriously. As the beating continues, several by-standers plead with these four large football player/bouncers to intervene. They repeat that they are not allowed to do so. They are heard to make comments such as "Oh that one had to hurt" etc. A female by-stander calls the police and they arrive, chase and arrest the assailants and begin to take witness statements. They also take note of the bouncers and their "security" shirts.

Morally, ethically and legally; are the actions of the bouncers acceptable? Responsible? What outcomes would you expect from this situation?

Morally and ethically the witnesses found the bouncers lack of action totally unacceptable. The police believed that these people where employed as security, therefore they were in a position "to know better, or ought reasonably to know better". They witnessed a criminal act in progress. They were capable of stopping or preventing the harm from occurring to the single male (he will never again be "normal" mentally or physically) and failed to do so. All parties were patrons of the bar.

While the criminal charges are proceeding through the courts, the family of the injured man, have launched a civil suit, naming the bouncers and the bar. The bar remains closed while the lawyers sort out this mess. This occurrence will, undoubtedly, become case law.

You are working in uniform as a security guard, driving a mobile patrol vehicle and checking client properties. As you pull onto a client owned property to check it, you observe a broken window at ground level. You report this to dispatch and begin to walk around the building.

You hear an audible alarm begin to sound and a youth runs out a side door right in front of you. The youth drops a computer he is carrying and continues running. You catch the youth immediately. After you identify yourself, the youth tells you his name, that he is only eleven years old and lives nearby.

Do you arrest the youth and hold him for the police?

Yes, he has been found committing a criminal offense on or in relation to property you are tasked with protecting.

You are required by law to:

A. Read the youth his rights under Section 10 of the Charter of Rights even though he is only eleven. You simply use the suitable wording for minors version.

B. Do not attempt to turn the youth over to his parents or permit him to call them. Your responsibility is to;

C. Turn him over to the police forthwith.

Let them call his parents or guardian, at the appropriate time. The police can do a check on his family and take the appropriate measures if it seems likely that "dad" will show up drunk, drugged, armed or with back up to attempt to forcibly take back this minor. Police dispatch will usually advise you if they are notifying the parents but they cannot release confidential information to civilians. Call the police and follow their directions.

You are working in as a uniformed security officer at a Transit Terminal. A highly intoxicated male has used an expired transfer pass to enter onto a bus. He was belligerent and abusive with the driver when challenged. You are called to assist.

You arrest the man and as you physically evict the individual from the bus and he begins to struggle to get away from you.

Was this a lawful arrest?

Yes.If so, state your authority. 494 (2)C.C.C.

Where does your authority to use force come from, in this case?

Section 25 of the Canadian Criminal Code.What does the law require you to do after any arrest you make?

Turn the subject over to Police "forthwith".

Can you arrest a suspect today (even if you are off duty) for assaulting you two days ago when you were working, and hold them for the police?

No, offenses must be current. No civilian authority to arrest on "reasonable grounds" in this case.

While employed as a Security Officer can you follow and arrest a person off your assigned property that you had observed stealing, as long as they don't leave your sight before you arrest them.

Yes! Found committing and fresh pursuit.

According to the law and current cases, is possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis now NOT an offense for which you can arrest on or in relation to the property you are looking after?

See 494 (2).C.C.C. Possession under the C.D.S.A. is a criminal, summary conviction offense.

While employed as a Security Officer can you arrest anyone you find on your assigned property that is in possession of illegal drugs regardless of the amount.

See 494 (2).C.C.C. Possession under the C.D.S.A. is a criminal, summary conviction offense. It is still "on or in relation to property." So you may be able to proceed under the T.P.A. if the subject is 'selling' or smoking/using the 'materials. If you are not a police officer then do not approach this as "drugs" at all. Instead proceed strictly on the basis of "prohibited act" and follow your trespass protocols or make your arrest under the T.P.A. for "prohibited act", "selling" or "smoking" or "repeat trespass offense".

Consider also not intervening but provide information (video if you have it) to the police and let them follow up as they see fit.

Offense recognition scenarios are used for training in police and correctional services academies because they work. In a class setting learners would be given time to record their own answers. Then group discussions would examine the differing thinking behind the varying answers. The final outcomes would then be given and discussed. Where possible case law outcomes are used to create the scenarios, thus the final answers are the courts actual decisions in each of the cases. This type of scenario training can handle several FAQs with each scenario.

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