Security officers' duties questioned

March 8, 2012 4:20:55 PM PST
Residents in one Spring community are split over a decision to hire private security officers to patrol their streets. It sounds like a great idea, but residents are also being told they could get pulled over and potentially have to pay a fine to their homeowners association.

The Legends Ranch property owners association recently added a patrol in an effort, they tell us, to get drivers to slow down while driving through the neighborhood and to also stop at stop signs. But some question if the officers on patrol have the authority to pull people over.

Legends Ranch is a gated subdivision near Spring. Those who live here love the quality of life, but hate the speed at which some though drive through their neighborhood.

Ben Cox says from his front yard he regularly watches drivers blow through a stop sign.

He said, "I've seen people running through here at 60 mph sometimes."

The homeowner's association has brought in Top Gun Security and Investigations to patrol and assist homeowners with safety concerns. The HOA has instructed them to enforce traffic, parking and other violations within the community.

Despite appearances, the officer driving the vehicle though is not law enforcement. Top Gun Security tells us the individual is a "DPS commissioned security officer."

"They have a right to patrol. This is private property," said Jeff Moore with Top Gun Security. "That's what people hire security for is to patrol their private property."

A representative with the homeowner's association tells Eyewitness News they are not saying that these officers are officers of the law.

Still some question whether Texas law allows those who are not commissioned peace officers, only commissioned security officers, to pull people over. Even the Department of Public Safety today could not give us a definite answer on this.

"It's not going to go well," said homeowner Darren Toner.

Toner says traffic enforcement should be done only by real lawmen -- actual police officers, sheriff's deputies or constables. Anyone else, he insists, is overstepping their authority.

He said, "They're there as a physical deterrent and that's it."

The homeowner's association says for now the officer will only be issuing warnings. But in the future, the association may implement fines for traffic violations.