Police (law enforcement) officers represent the government (local, county, state, or federal).
Security officers represent private businesses and individuals.
2. Police officers enforce laws. Security officers
3. Police officers are included in the “governing authorities”
mentioned in Romans 13:1-5. Security officers are not.
4. In most jurisdictions, security officers have no more
and no less authority to detain a person than a private
citizen. (Check the laws of your state.)
5. Police powers are limited only by law and jurisdiction.
Security officer powers are limited to specific private
property, which may or may not be open to the public.
Security officers have no more authority than a private
citizen on public property, even if that public property
is immediately adjacent to the private property to
which the security officer is assigned.
❖ Do Your Homework
1. Ascertain if the area in which you are going to conduct
evangelism activities is public or private property.
2. Contact local government agencies such as parks &
recreation, public works, and traffic for clarification
regarding public property areas.
3. When open-air preaching, pick an area on public property
upon which a gathered crowd will not impede the free
flow of pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic.
4. Check for local ordinances that may lawfully regulate
aspects of free speech exercise (i.e. amplification,
5. Check with secular organizations who may have also
used the area you are considering for open-air preaching
or street evangelism. Did their activities require any
permits? Were their activities ever impeded by law
The majority of the following was adapted by Tony Miano
❖ Demeanor with Private Security
1. Know and understand any written policy a mall,
shopping center, or other private business has regarding
the time, place, and manner of free speech exercise.
2. Be respectful.
a. Security officers are often young, zealous, and do not
understand the First Amendment as it applies to private
property accessible to the public.
b. Most security officers misunderstand the definition of key
terms, such as “soliciting”.
3. If/when contacted by private security and you are asked
to stop distributing material or engaging people in
conversation, ask if your activities are a violation of law.
4. If a favorable resolution cannot be reached with the
security officer, ask to speak to his or her supervisor.
5. If a favorable resolution cannot be reached with
the security supervisor, ask to speak to a manager
of the business.
6. If a favorable resolution cannot be reached with the
business manager, ask the manager to contact the police.
7. Be polite, but persevere!
8. In most jurisdictions, private security can lawfully detain
an individual if he or she has probable cause to believe
that the detainee has committed a crime (i.e. shoplifting,
burglary, etc). On the other hand, private security cannot
lawfully detain an individual for a simple violation of
mall or shopping center policy.
9. If you elect to submit to the security officer’s or
manager’s request, do not return to the mall for at
least 24 hours.
❖ Demeanor with Police Officers
1. A favorable outcome when contacted by a police
officer is less about being right and more about being
wise and diplomatic..
2. Unfortunately, many people talk their way into jail, not
out of jail. Attitude is everything.
❖ Demeanor with Police Officers
3. You will never win an argument with an officer; but you
can win an officer to your point of view through calm,
reasoned, and respectful dialogue.
4. Police officers, by and large, want to resolve public
disturbances peacefully. In situations involving simple
disturbances, an officer would prefer to resolve the
situation without using force or making an arrest.
a. Keep your hands out of your pockets.
b. Keep your hands in plain view.
c. Try not to talk with your hands, make any sudden
movements, or make movements the officer may
perceive as furtive.
d. Never reach into a box, pouch, or backpack without the
officer’s knowledge and/or permission.
e. Do not turn your back on an officer.
6. Refer to police officers as “officer,” and refer to deputy
sheriffs as “deputy.” Avoid using the term “cop” when
talking to law enforcement professionals. To many
officers, the word “cop” is a derogatory or disrespectful
term, particularly when used by those outside the law
7. Avoid, whenever possible, debating an officer in a group
setting. Don’t put the officer in a position where he or
she has to assert his or her authority to control a crowd
or to save face in front of a crowd.
8. Be respectful even if you feel that the officer is not being
respectful to you. You will not win a sinful, prideful war
of words with an officer. Nor should you want to.
9. Submit to the officer’s reasonable orders. Anyone can get
arrested. It’s not difficult. The smart evangelist (at least
in present day America) is the one who remains out of
jail evangelizing the lost.
10. If an officer orders you to stop preaching or distributing
tracts, respectfully ask what law(s) you have violated
a. Use an inquisitive tone of voice, not an
❖ Demeanor with Police Officers
11. If the officer cannot or will not cite a specific penal code or
municipal code section, respectfully ask why you must
stop your activities if you are not in violation of the law.
a. Respectfully explain to the officer that you are exercising
your freedom/right to express your strongly held religious
beliefs, in a public place.
b. You don’t have to give an officer your ID unless you are
being detained. Kindly ask what am I being detained for?
Don’t just hand over your ID for anything.
12. If the officer persists in ordering you to stop, respectfully ask
to speak to the officer’s supervisor.
a. Explain to the officer that the purpose of your request is
clarification, not accusation or complaint.
b. If the officer refuses to summon his or her supervisor, then you
may have to cease your activities for the time being, or you can
allow the officer to arrest you without incident.
i. Be respectful, but persevere!
13. If you are unable to reach a favorable resolution at the scene,
and you opt not to go to jail, respectfully ask for the officer’s
name and badge number before you leave the area. These days,
most officers carry business cards. Ask for one.
14. When you return home, collect your thoughts and write
a detailed account of the incident.
a. Collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of those
who were with you at the time of the incident.
15. Go to the police/sheriff station the following day, as
close to the time of day of the incident as possible.
a. Ask to speak to either the Watch Sergeant or the
Watch Commander. Typically, these are the people who have
overall command of a particular shift.
b. Try to obtain a positive resolution without filing a formal
complaint, then you may have to cease your activities
for the time being, or you can allow the officer to arrest you
i. Remember, your goal is to preach the Gospel unmolested, not
to vengefully exact a pound of flesh from the officer.
c. If you do not reach a positive resolution with the Watch
Sergeant or Watch Commander, request a meeting with
either the station commander, Chief of Police, or Sheriff.
16. If you are unable to reach a positive resolution with
the law enforcement agency, then contact a reputable,
Christian defense organization for further assistance.
❖ Establishing Rapport with Law Enforcement
1. It is better to have your local law enforcement with
you than against you.
2. Take time to talk to police officers in your community.
3. Get to know the officers who frequently work the area
where you conduct your evangelism activities.
4. If officers happen by when you are open-air preaching,
respectfully acknowledge them, thank them for their
service, and encourage the crowd to do the same.
5. If you are in a coffee shop or fast food restaurant, offer
to pay for the officer’s coffee or meal
a. Do not be offended if the officer does not accept your offer;
and don’t press the issue. In some jurisdictions, an officer
can be reprimanded for accepting a gratuity of any kind.
❖ Tactical Considerations
1. Carry a digital tape recorder with you whenever you are
engaged in evangelism.
a. Most states have what is commonly referred to as a
“one-party consent” law. This means that in environments
where there is no expectation of privacy (i.e. most public
places), the law requires that only one person need be
aware that a recording of the conversation is being made.
And that person can be the person making the recording.
(Important: Check the laws in your state.)
b. Partners/Witnesses: There is a reason why Jesus sent his
disciples out in pairs and in small groups. For reasons of
personal safety, accountability, and support, it is good to
have at least one partner with you (whenever possible)
during evangelism activities.
c. Don’t look like a suspect.
i. Many people unwittingly place themselves in situations
that make them look suspicious to law enforcement.
❖ When All Else Fails
1. Scripture shows that the apostles submitted to the
governing authorities without compromising the
proclamation of the Gospel.
2. There may come a time when you will have to choose
between proclaiming the Gospel and your freedom.
Will you deny yourself in that instance, take up your
cross, and follow Christ?
3. Persevere, no matter what the consequences!
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