Color of Law and the Private Security Industry

In a country run by a government that is giving an appearance of legal authority for public officials to perform actions that are in real sense violating the jurisdiction of the legal directive, the “Color of Law” may exist. It is the same way as unconsciously favoring the police officers to apprehend somebody without using the presence of proper discernment and identification of reasonable causes for the arrest. In this manner, the officers did not only deprive the person under arrest with the right to be treated in accordance with the law but also gives them impressions that they are improperly using their authorities considered to be beyond the boundary of a lawful power.  The act done in consideration with the color of law does not mean that it is righteous and lawful.

Meanwhile, the Private Security Industry Act requires all security officers to obtain legitimate licenses for their profession. These licenses are legally binding for three years. However, the licensed officers should submit themselves for trainings and comply with other requirements that vary from different countries. This act of requiring valid licenses for security officers however, unlikely presents the obligation of the state in bringing the actions of the private guards under the color of law. It is good as saying that there is no relationship existing between the “Color of Law” and “Private Security Act.” The action that may be performed by an off-duty private guard from a different country together with other security officers in the arrest of a suspected shoplifter does not necessarily present enough reasons that their activities are under the color of state law and require notices or warnings of breaking the legal rights of the suspect before extracting the suspect’s statement where the off-duty private guard only classified himself as a staff of the establishment (cited in Grand Rapids v. Impens, 1982). In addition, the color of law shows an insufficient relationship towards private security industry because such law only limits its scope to public officials and non-government employees who don’t belong to law enforcement groups namely adjudicators, prosecutors, and private security officers.


Legislative Council, State of Michigan (2002). Private Security Business and Security Alarm Act: Act 330 of 1968. Retrieved August 11, 2008, from

Farlex, Inc. (2008). Color of Law. Retrieved August 11, 2008, from

The ‘Lectric Law Library (n.d.). Under Color of State Law. Retrieved August 11, 2008, from