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November 29, 2021

The Basics of Handcuffs: A Guide for Security Professionals

When you think security and law enforcement, one of the tools that comes to mind is most likely a set of handcuffs.


When you think security and law enforcement, one of the tools that comes to mind is most likely a set of handcuffs. Used for detaining perpetrators and preventing their use of any force or weapons, handcuffs can be a useful piece of equipment in the right hands. However, their use is only permitted by specialized personnel, which varies from state to state. Private citizens making use of handcuffs for detaining someone may find themselves charged with kidnapping. Not only this, but handcuffs themselves can unintentionally cause injury to persons they’re used on. For this reason, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the law, particularly in your state before carrying handcuffs, whether for work or as a private citizen.

Who Is Allowed to Carry Handcuffs?

Generally, it is not illegal for a private citizen to simply own and carry handcuffs. Making use of them, however, is a different story. For this reason, we suggest that no private citizen purchase handcuffs with the intention of using them for any sort of citizen’s arrest, as there is simply no guarantee that the laws will protect you.

As for professionals, law officers are allowed to carry and use handcuffs as part of their work. Security officers are generally permitted to do the same, however they must follow specific regulations. Some states may require security guards to complete a course before they are allowed to carry restraints, and often these restraints may only be used in particular situations and when waiting for law enforcement to arrive.

Things to Consider

If you find yourself able to use handcuffs while on the job, it is vital that you weigh the individual concerns that each person being handcuffed presents. For instance, handcuffs can fall under the use of excessive force if they are used to restrain someone too tightly, for too long, or in a dangerously uncomfortable position.

There are also ethics to consider. If the person being restrained is mentally disabled, or uses their hands to communicate (for instance in American Sign Language), this could also mean they’re not a good candidate for this kind of restraint. Suspects under 14 years of age should not be restrained unless they are suspected of a dangerous felony or an immediate and dangerous threat to an officer or others. Pregnant suspects should be restrained in the least restrictive way possible, and never behind their back or by their legs.

If you are a security officer who has felt it necessary to use handcuffs as a means of restraining a suspect, you must never leave the restrained person’s side, and immediately inform law enforcement upon arrival that the suspect has been restrained. Open communication between yourself and law enforcement is vital.

In the end, the use of restraints by security officers may vary from job to job, but it is always best to air on the side of caution and only use them when someone is presenting an immediate and dangerous threat. Remember that they are only to be used to keep them from injuring themselves and others, and not as a means of punishment.

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