Managing The Boundary Between Public And Private Policing Essay Sample
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This paper is about the growing apprehensions of private contractors donning roles that were traditionally only within the confines of a public police force. The shrinking budgets of our nation’s police forces have forced administrations to lay off personnel, freeze recruitment and stalling technology upgrades for government run police forces. This has rendered quite a few cities vulnerable to criminal activities. The case of Detroit is one such example. The police force in Detroit city is three thousand personnel short. This allows criminal activity seep into the business sectors and affluent neighborhoods. The civilians in these localities turned to their only other alternative; private guards and security personnel.
This is not a trend that started in the last couple of years; private securities have been employed since the 1940s or even earlier. Private policing agencies provide a variety of services. These include property security detail, bodyguards, CCTV cameras, alarm systems, etc. They are also involved in patrolling neighborhoods in patrol vehicles; much like how regular police officers operate in a neighborhood. Their staff usually comprises of retired police officers and newly trained personnel.
Over the last few years however, the motivation behind the involvement of private contractors have been suspect. The private security or neighborhood watch look for the best interest of the client; in this case, their affluent clients. Unlike public police officers, private contractors are not bound by statues of the law and they do not act towards the welfare of the general public. Yet, they are allowed to carry firearms quite freely without any accountability.
The problem with this particular scenario is that the private contractors are here to stay. In fact, their presence is essential for the greater well being of the society. In the Wild West, bounty hunters would hunt down criminals for reward money. This enabled lawmen such as sheriffs and Marshalls to operate their offices smoothly. Likewise, private agencies have sealed their place alongside state owned police departments in controlling crime.
Police personnel have gunned down over five thousand innocent civilians in the years that followed 9/11 to the present time. If a state run police department can make mistakes, they are held accountable by the local administrations, federal agencies and are usually subject to infamous lawsuits. Are there any safeguards against private securities indulging in high handed behavior?
All private sector companies have the same golden rule; to make big profits. The private security companies are no different. They cut down costs in training and salaries to enhance their profit margins. They also offer active police personnel part time jobs as bodyguards, security personnel or even as enforcers in some cases. If there was a crime that occurred in the neighborhood that a private contractor operates, the first priority becomes suppressing the information rather than apprehending the perpetrators.
Inclination towards client interests than public safety
A private security guard will prevent school children from using certain parts of a playground because it might be easy to scout houses in that neighborhood while sitting on a certain playground bench. His objective is to keep strangers out of the neighborhood and if he has to deny a bunch of kids to play in a certain part of their playground, it would be perfectly within his rights to do so. He might use intimidation or even physical force to remove kids who manage to reach the restricted area. If a public police officer were to indulge in such action, it would invite a severe public backlash however in this case, it won’t even be reported. Of course this was a mild example. However, everyday thousands of civilians are affected due to illegal restriction of their movement by private security personnel. When young African American kids are forced to take detours to avoid an affluent white neighborhood; the chance of crimes against the kids increases. Yet, it will be within the rights of private security to impose such restrictions on innocent civilians.
Lack of accountability
The accountability is high for a public police officer however; most of the police officers involved in accidental shootings were either subject to criminal prosecution or underwent treatment during suspensions. Yet, gun yielding private security guards do not have any such accountability.
Private security guards do not read Miranda rights, conduct illegal searches and even resort to brutality to fulfill the task requirements.
Trampling of civil liberties
Private security agencies have no intention of providing the same safeguards that the US constitution provides for its citizens against unnecessary searches or false imprisonment. However, these safeguards do not hold valid if private security contractors are in charge of operations in the vicinity.
Corruption and attrition for public police
The risk of corruption is increased significantly since former police officers can easily obtain sensitive intelligence using their “Old boy” circles. The lucrative pay also results in attrition of public police officers who eventually join the ranks of private contractors.
Recommendations for mutually beneficial operations
The public policing policy requires change regarding the rights and accountability clauses for private contractors. Moreover, there is a need to collaborate in areas that the general public can gain through association of private and public police organizations.
Police departments usually struggle to conduct technology aided investigations of white collar crimes. Private companies have the resources and the necessary equipment to successfully intercept cyber criminals. Hence, technology collaborations are important between private and public policing agencies.
All safeguards provided by the US constitution to its citizens should be made mandatory for allowing the operation of a private security company. Their contracts should be rejected if they refuse to add the accountability clause.
Private security contractors should also be open for liability related costs to be worked in the background. For example, if an Asian origin family sues the police for excessive force by a security guard, the liability of the lawsuit cost and any restitution should be borne by the private security company.
The economic fluctuations and budget cuts in police departments across the nation have made it virtually impossible not to work alongside private contractors. However, police administrators and legislators should remember why we even have a police force. Public liberties should not be trampled; they should be safeguarded. Any problem that arises for the public from private companies is a problem area for the public police that needs to be addressed immediately.
What is meant by private policing?
Private policing includes neighborhood watch patrols, private security guards, personal bodyguards and surveillance contractors. They are engaged by civilians when they realize that public police might not be enough to keep their interests safe.
How can public police benefit from private agencies?
Public police departments can pay more attention to the weaker and vulnerable parts of the society. This is possible when the affluent portion of the society engage private security agencies to protect their properties or even self.
What are the areas public police should collaborate with private agencies?
White collar crimes, sharing intelligence gathered from surveillance tapes, communications equipment and installation of alarm systems.
What are the areas that are best left to public police agencies?
Crime fighting, solving crimes, marking restricted areas, police training, crime control policies, public relations and interrogation of suspects.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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