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Security issues require review

There’s no doubt that being a security guard is a tough job, especially in places were crowds get drunk and rowdy. But there is a limit to what a security guard can do.

And that limit may have been crossed at this year’s Omak Stampede.

Several rodeo-goes have alleged being roughed up or illegally detained by Phoenix Protective Corp. security guards. Some have also complained about being handcuffed and met with guns drawn.

If the allegations are true, that’s not acceptable.

Under state law, a security guard is only allowed to detain someone if they witness a retail theft or have probable cause to believe a drug or alcohol violation has occurred. Detention is allowed long enough to ask for a statement or until a police arrive.

Security guards also have the authority to physically remove someone charged with trespassing. But they don’t necessarily have the authority to determine who is trespassing, especially when East Side Park and the Omak Stampede Arena are owned by the public.

Given the basic authorities outlined in state law, the complaints being filed by rodeo-goers this year are particularly alarming.

Several Omak Stampede directors learned of the allegations just this week. They are determined to find out exactly what happened, and to whom.

Let’s hope they can get to the bottom of the complaints expeditiously.

The Stampede needs a reputation as a safe and secure event. And it needs security guards protecting rodeo-goers, not intimidating them.

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