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Private Policing or Public Policing

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Discuss the public relations image and professionalism of the private security industry. What are some examples from the article concerning the importance of private security industry members having the same level of professionalism as public law enforcement officers? How can a negative image impact the security of a community? How can this image be improved?

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In January of 2007 Amy Goldstein writes of "The Private Arm of the Law." It might appear to some that this is a new concept in policing, but in reality back in 1960 Bruce Smith in the 2d edition of Police Systems in the United States," New York: Harper & Row, of the five types of "public" law enforcement already present in the United States. These five were in line with the various levels of government: federal government agencies; crime investigation and state police forces; sheriff's and county police, sometimes duplicating, sometimes replacing their counterparts; thousands of townships, towns and districts; and finally villages, borough, incorporated towns, along with special purpose forces (e.g. guards in private industrial complexes). As one might expect, it was at the federal level that contracting out of any government service to private companies was begun (Nicholas, Henry, 2004. Public Administration and Public Affairs, 9th edition. Upper Saddle NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.).
One of the most well-known private agency of policing was the Pinkerton's Incorporated. The Pinkerton's were used for private patrols, investigations, guarding property, "apprehending thieves, investigating offenses and detecting fraud and embezzlement" (Vago, Steven, 2006. Law and Society, 8th edition. Upper Saddle NJ: Pearson Education, Ind.), all the duties we associate with our public police forces. The use of private agencies began to increase until by 2004,while public expenses for law enforcement had risen to over $60 billion, private security had reached expenses over $150 billion (id). General Motors had over 4200 plant guards by the 1990's and most large universities have their own security systems. As Goldstein indicates in her article, private gated communities and many transit systems have their own security systems. The ...

Solution Summary

This solution addresses the challenges presented in considering the contracting of private police for enforcement of the law in boroughs, towns, cities, transit systems, college campuses where departments consider hiring more police unfeasible. It considers professionalism, training, positive and negative aspects of the policy and the effects private policing might have on the hard-won and the well-established relationships that the public police and citizens now enjoy.

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