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May 19, 2009

The rise of private policing in the U.S.

A disturbing item from ISN Security Watch about how private security forces are replacing real police officers on many critical beats throughout the country:

Fast forward nine years later and one finds a young industry built almost entirely on the backs of former military and police personnel who have provided everything from diplomatic, convoy, embassy, weapon storage and energy infrastructural security to gathering intelligence, conducting interrogations, patrolling borders on land, fighting pirates on sea and transporting goods and personnel by air. It would seem there is nothing these forces cannot do. [ISN]

According to the story, some cities are actually pushing to give private security forces the power of arrest.  What transparent union-busting. These cities don't want to pay pensions and benefits to real police officers, so they're falling back on disposable rent-a-cops. Ironically, most of these officers are retired police, so they're cashing in on their publicly-funded training and expertise while taking jobs away from new cops.

Another attractive feature of private contractors is lack of accountability. Private contractors don't have to get elected. Unlike police departments, security contractors are usually limited liability companies that can just fold if they get sued.

Private policy is not good value for public money. It might seem cheap in the short term, but the erosion of standards and the lack of accountability make it a false economy.


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Along with railroad police, locally, we have the Port police, the UW campus cops, the "Metro Security" (mostly off-duty cops working for the local transit agency), the USPS police (yes- they have "their own") the City police, the County Sheriffs, the State Patrol... we must be, potentially, perceived as 'a lawless bunch' by the people that have a lot to protect, I suppose... and their, uh, Our elected officials... ^..^

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