Private Security Operations and legal challenges

In today’s world, where organizations and businesses face various challenges ranging from pilferage or misuse of their property to vulnerability problems, there are several approaches that have been used specifically to try to solve them (the challenges listed above facing organizations and businesses) (Rachel and Charlie, 2006). Techniques employed could include both electronic, such as the implementation of closed-circuit television (CCTV), also known as video monitoring, and scanners, among other technology, and manual, such as administrative warranted searches (Rachel and Charlie, 2006). The search involves physical frisking of the employees of an organization when the leaving the premises with the aim of deterring theft or confiscating stolen items. However, these methods of ensuring the security of organization’s properties and safety have always confronted multiple rejections by the very employed they are subjected to. In the United States of America, lawsuits have been filed by either citizens or employees who have been subjected to these kinds of search claiming that they are unconstitutional and do not conform to the 4th Amendment provisions (Samplin, 2012). One such case ensued between Bellevue Municipal Hospital (BMH), which is the largest hospital in Manhattan and the second largest in New York City, and Chenkin who was one of the employees of BMH working as an assistant chemist in the year 1978; the employee claimed that BMH violated his privacy rights by subjecting him to unconstitutional search. The paper therefore critically examines the raised in the case by both plaintiff (Chenkin) and the defendant (Personnel Manager of BMH) and the arguments presented by the counsel of both parties. The jurisprudence of the court in making its decision based on the argument presented by both parties is also an important aspect that the paper examines in great depth.

Issues Related to the Search Program

The genesis of the controversial case dates back to June 28, 1978. On this day, the plaintiff, Chenkin was on his way home after work when the security guards stopped him to check his knapsack (Chenkin v. Bellevue, 1979). Mr. Chenkin’s bag was chosen at random by the security personnel as the object of search at that instance. There was no suspicion however that Mr. Chenkin’s knapsack could be carrying stolen items and that there was biasness in selecting a person to do the search. Before the search was initiated, a notice was issued almost a month prior, and the memoranda were pinned in many places within the Hospital; elevators, laboratories, notice boards, offices among others all had the memoranda about the search pinned (Chenkin v. Bellevue, 1979). Mr. Chenkin being an adult, could not deny having seen the notice and was thus very aware of the intent by the BMH’s management to carry out a random search at the premise’s exit points.

What led to the filing a lawsuit is when the plaintiff was suspended for five days and his payment for the suspension period withheld. The first instance when he was requested to surrender his knapsack for inspection he refused. The guards did not coerce, assault, or abuse him mentally but rather requested to see his tag which he willfully showed and his name was recorded. After approximately a month, a similar incident to the former ensued, and he still refused to let his knapsack bag be searched. His name was again recorded by the security guards. Due to the repeat incidence, the plaintiff was suspended without pay from 24 July to 28 July 1978 (Chenkin v. Bellevue, 1979). The suspension was on the basis that the plaintiff refused to comply with the organization’s laws which required that random check is carried out on the bags, pocketbooks, suitcases, and bags belonging to the employees of the Hospital.

Positions of Chenkin (Plaintiff) and Bellevue (Defendant) in the Case

Based on the facts presented in the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that the policies initiated by Bellevue violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Though his counsel, the argued that the Organization’s system allowed unjustifiable intrusion into his personal belongings which did achieve any substantial decline in the pilferage cases. His argument was solely based on the “lodestar” case, Katz v. the U.S. where the Supreme Court upheld that the Fourth Amendment protected the people but not places, who could be subjected to unreasonable intrusion into their private properties by the government (Chenkin v. Bellevue, 1979). However, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S.’s Constitution also has its limitations and is applicable only if the person can claim “justifiable,” “reasonable,” as well as “legitimate” expectation of privacy. In this case, the plaintiff was limited to the confinement of the Organization he worked for thus had no expectations of privacy. However, it has to be noted that the plaintiff’s claims could not fully be dismissed. He carried a bag which had his personal belongings; items that have been accorded protection traditionally under the Fourth Amendment.

On the other hand and with equal measure, Bellevue asserted in its argument that no any single employee had exceptional and reasonable expectation of privacy in any of the packages they could have carried to work (Chenkin v. Bellevue, 1979). The Bellevue’s counsel argued that the organization was large and public characteristically that no one would have an expectation of enjoying the benefits of privacy. As already argued before, it has to be recognized that the Fourth Amendment protected people both in their homes and in public places and that even at points where security is tight for instance airports, an individual was still entitled to some privacy of their personal effects. Bellevue further argued that it placed posters before the inspection long enough that all the employees were aware of the intentions to control packages carried to work (Chenkin v. Bellevue, 1979). Although this was the reality, it can be argued on the sideway that pinning posters was not enough to comprehensively make legitimate the inspection system or to change the plaintiff’s expectation of privacy. The plaintiff therefore with this regard held a subjective expectation of privacy of his personal belongings.

Court Ruling

A neutral hearing of the case was set up on October 5, 1978, pursuant to the New York Laws. The plaintiff appeared before the court with his counsel who argued on his behalf. The main foundation of their argument in defense of the plaintiff’s conduct was that the inspection was unconstitutional and violated the privacy rights of the employees (Chenkin v. Bellevue, 1979). However, the hearing officer of the case ruled that the plaintiff knowingly violated the legal regulations of the Corporation he worked for even after due notice of the same, thus he was guilty of insubordination. The hearing officer after his analysis found that the strategies employed by the Corporation to prevent pilferage were a suitable and reasonable method to cope with the serious issues of pilferage in organizations (Chenkin v. Bellevue, 1979). Additionally, his recommendation which was also accepted by the Court of Appeal was that the organization upholds the suspension of the employee for five days. The penalty was thus imposed on the plaintiff by the Personnel Manager who appeared to the defendant in the case. It was prudent for the court to reject Chenkin’s claims because the organization had communicated in good time about its intention to introduce package inspection system where all packages carried to the Hospital would be subject to inspection randomly. If the plaintiff were not comfortable with his bag being inspected, he would have opted for the alternative option of “checking” the packages at any of the three places within the Hospital where they would be kept until one wants to leave the premise. Those who opted for this option did not have their packages inspected, and therefore Chenkin would have resorted to it.

Impacts of the Case Ruling on Security Operations

The ruling in the Chenkin v. Bellevue Municipal Hospital is critical in many dimensions of an organization but the outstanding being on security operations. The decision by the court can have a great impact on the security system employed by an organization since the management can fully rely on it as the background upon which all the security decisions are made. Most organizations do not like facing the court for cases grounded on their decisions. However, if a court ruling has been made about a certain case and determined, organizations can comfortably apply the principles to make their managerial decisions. Additionally, to Bellevue Hospital, the ruling impacted positively in boosting the security of its properties which had been getting lost through pilferage.

Application of the Court Ruling on Security Policy Proposal

Many Corporations can rely on this court ruling to make security policy proposals. In any organization, privacy and security of the employees should be a priority to the management. Providing alternative methods for securing the organization’s properties should be done to ensure there are inclusivity and lack of biases on who are searched and who cannot (Maclin, 2005). Methods such as the use of X-ray scanners and CCTV can be very efficient and “unbiased” in conducting security checks as opposed to using humans as guards. Additionally, gender indiscriminative security policies and inclusivity in searching where everyone is searched instead of the randomized criteria can also be adopted to prevent cases of lawsuits being filed.


Chenkin v. Bellevue Hosp. CTR., NYC, ETC., 479 F. Supp. 207 (S.D.N.Y. 1979). Retrieved on July 13, 2017 from:,%20N.%20Y.%20C.,%20ETC.#

Maclin, T. (2005). Is obtaining an arrestee’s DNA a valid special needs search under the Fourth Amendment? What should (and will) the Supreme Court do?. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 33(1), 102-124.

Rachel, B., and Charlie, E. (2006). The business of resilience corporate security for the 21st century. Journal of Business Management.

Samplin, C. L. (2012). Notwithstanding Court Officer’s Declaration that Defendant Is” Under Arrest,” Absence of Probable Cause Does Not Require Suppression of Evidence Seized During Pat-Down Search When Other Indicia of Arrest Are Not Present. St. John’s Law Review, 56(2), 7.

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