Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to competencies in processing and managing emotion that may be important in security settings; facial emotions may betray criminals and terrorists. This study tested the hypothesis that high EI relates to superior detection and processing of facial emotion, in relation to two tasks: controlled visual search for designated facial emotions, and identification of micro-expressions of emotion. Participants completed scales for EI, as well as cognitive intelligence, personality, and coping. EI failed to predict performance on either task, contrary to the initial hypothesis. However, performance related to higher cognitive intelligence, the personality trait of openness, and use of task-focused coping. These measures related to faster visual search, and to greater accuracy in detecting facial micro-expressions. Practical considerations suggest selecting security agents who are high in conventional rather than emotional intelligence, and training use of task-focused coping. However, EI may be useful for selecting stress-tolerant agents.