Private Police Forces

In Raleigh, N.C., employees of Capitol Special Police patrol apartment buildings, a bowling alley and nightclubs, stopping suspicious people, searching their cars and making arrests.

Sounds like a good thing, but Capitol Special Police isn't a police force at all -- it's a for-profit security company hired by private property owners.

This isn't unique. Private security guards outnumber real police more than 5-1, and increasingly act like them.

They wear uniforms, carry weapons and drive lighted patrol cars on private properties like banks and apartment complexes and in public areas like bus stations and national monuments. Sometimes they operate as ordinary citizens and can only make citizen's arrests, but in more and more states they're being granted official police powers.

This trend should greatly concern citizens. Law enforcement should be a government function, and privatizing it puts us all at risk.

Most obviously, there's the problem of agenda. Public police forces are charged with protecting the citizens of the cities and towns over which they have jurisdiction. Of course, there are instances of policemen overstepping their bounds, but these are exceptions, and the police officers and departments are ultimately responsible to the public.

Private police officers are different. They don't work for us; they work for corporations. They're focused on the priorities of their employers or the companies that hire them. They're less concerned with due process, public safety and civil rights.

Also, many of the laws that protect us from police abuse do not apply to the private sector. Constitutional safeguards that regulate police conduct, interrogation and evidence collection do not apply to private individuals. Information that is illegal for the government to collect about you can be collected by commercial data brokers, then purchased by the police.

We've all seen policemen "reading people their rights" on television cop shows. If you're detained by a private security guard, you don't have nearly as many rights.

For example, a federal law known as Section 1983 allows you to sue for civil rights violations by the police but not by private citizens. The Freedom of Information Act allows us to learn what government law enforcement is doing, but the law doesn't apply to private individuals and companies. In fact, most of your civil right protections apply only to real police.

Training and regulation is another problem. Private security guards often receive minimal training, if any. They don't graduate from police academies. And while some states regulate these guard companies, others have no regulations at all: anyone can put on a uniform and play policeman. Abuses of power, brutality, and illegal behavior are much more common among private security guards than real police.

A horrific example of this happened in South Carolina in 1995. Ricky Coleman, an unlicensed and untrained Best Buy security guard with a violent criminal record, choked a fraud suspect to death while another security guard held him down.

This trend is larger than police. More and more of our nation's prisons are being run by for-profit corporations. The IRS has started outsourcing some back-tax collection to debt-collection companies that will take a percentage of the money recovered as their fee. And there are about 20,000 private police and military personnel in Iraq, working for the Defense Department.

Throughout most of history, specific people were charged by those in power to keep the peace, collect taxes and wage wars. Corruption and incompetence were the norm, and justice was scarce. It is for this very reason that, since the 1600s, European governments have been built around a professional civil service to both enforce the laws and protect rights.

Private security guards turn this bedrock principle of modern government on its head. Whether it's FedEx policemen in Tennessee who can request search warrants and make arrests; a privately funded surveillance helicopter in Jackson, Miss., that can bypass constitutional restrictions on aerial spying; or employees of Capitol Special Police in North Carolina who are lobbying to expand their jurisdiction beyond the specific properties they protect -- privately funded policemen are not protecting us or working in our best interests.

This op ed originally appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

EDITED TO ADD (4/2): This is relevant.

Posted on February 27, 2007 at 6:02 AM • 158 Comments

Comments

BSWFebruary 27, 2007 6:48 AM

In third-world countries local militia under the control of a war-lord are the norm. The current Federal elected officials have spent the last 6 years acting as though their goal is the conversion of the US into a third-world country. So the US has local militia under the control of a corporation. Sounds like corporate supremacist progress to me.

ZephFebruary 27, 2007 6:52 AM

>Law enforcement should be a government function

And you found this in the Constitution where?

>Private police officers are different. They don't work for us; they work for corporations.

Regular police officers don't work for us, they work for politicians. Private security officers, at least, are subject to real consequences if something goes wrong.

>Throughout most of history, specific people were charged by those in power to keep the peace, collect taxes and wage wars. Corruption and incompetence were the norm, and justice was scarce.

And you believe that this has changed with modern police forces? Did the Great Boston Lite-brite Massacree really make no impression on you at all?

Another KevinFebruary 27, 2007 7:15 AM

Exercise for the history student: compare and contrast the use of private police by corporations in the early twenty-first century with the maintenance of private security forces a century earlier. Consider the Homestead Strike, a three-cornered battle among the United Mine Workers, the Pinkerton security troops reporting to Henry Clay Frick, and two brigades of the Pennsylvania state militia.

Even the use of contract labor for government police work is nothing new. The fledgling Justice Department received a $50,000 appropriation from the Congress in 1871 to form an agency for the "detection and prosecution of those guilty of crimes under Federal Law." Finding that the money was inadequate to do the job internally, the
DoJ contracted it out to Pinkerton; one could say that in that time Pinkerton ran the FBI!

arlFebruary 27, 2007 7:19 AM

Key phrase here is "private property". I have nothing against public police forces and for many jobs they are the best. But to expand police forces to take on the jobs that have long been held by private security firms makes no sense.

Police forces do stupid things. If NASA can try to put a stalker in space what hope do any of us have?

billbFebruary 27, 2007 7:19 AM

Bruce:

A few things:
1. While government cops may be "charged with" protecting us, they have no legal duty to do so (see Warren v. D.C. for example).
2. Can you cite a source for private cops being given traditional government police powers (search warrants and arrest powers as you suggest Tennessee FedEx guards have)? I'm not saying I don't believe you, I just want to see what idiotic laws some states (perhaps even my state) have passed.
3. Where did this anti-private cop angle come from? I'm just not seeing it. People have been hiring folks to protect them for at least as long as governments have been using folks to collect taxes and enforce laws. I'd like to see some evidence that the private security is much more likely to abuse power and commit illegal acts than the government ones.
4. Section 1983 suits are hard to win, and government cops have the benefits of a number of immunities that private cops don't (currently) enjoy. It seems to me that the latter is likely to encourage public police to stretch their authority more than private ones.

ZucFebruary 27, 2007 7:23 AM

@Zeph:

I don't know how it works where you live, but in most countries the members of parliament (ie the politicians) have no direct authority over the police, nor the courts.

On the other hand, making private security guards accountable requires cooperation from politicians to make appropriate laws - so how do you explain that politicians are somehow able to behave properly when governing private security guards but when it comes to public police, are suddenly corrupt and not trustworthy?

RoxanneFebruary 27, 2007 7:43 AM

You left out the market forces involved. The police who are employed by civic organizations (cities, states) are subject to the payment guidelines negotiated for them by the relevant union. Security officers employed by private firms are not subject to these rules. Thus a community can get many more private security officers for their dollar than regular police for the same money.

If the mayor (or whoever) does it right, some of that money comes back to him, via stock in the firm, or campaign contributions, that would raise all sorts of alarms if he tried to get that same money from the public police force.

Meanwhile, the high rise apartment building or gated community that hires a private security firm sees its value go up. Individuals are driving the demand; they're willing to pay a higher targeted fee where they would resist a higher property tax.

I think the solution is probably more oversight of the private firms, rather than abolishing them in favor of more government-controlled police.

Make them play by the same rules and have the same training, and it will be beneficial in the end.

GopiFebruary 27, 2007 8:44 AM

A quick google of "Fedex Police" turns up:
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05146/510879.stm

"As a recognized police force in Tennessee, it has access to law-enforcement databases."

They also credit them with:
"Opening FedEx's international shipping database, including credit-card details, to U.S. Customs"

Carnegie Mellon University, where I went to school, has its own police force. On the whole, I always felt like they acted much like real police.

It seemed like they were basically more aware of the campus and the issues of dealing with students than normal police would be. Plus, they would generally not be very concerned about weapons - they carried guns, but I never heard of them drawing them that I can recall.

One friend of mine told that at, I believe it was Clemson, there was actually a court on-campus. He was not very impressed with how the court was run.

MartinFebruary 27, 2007 8:59 AM

> If you're detained by a private security guard, you don't have nearly as many rights.

The reason you have "rights" when arrested by police, is because the police have certain special rights to restrain you and otherwise violate you. Civil police *do not*, repeat *not*, have these special rights.

> For example, a federal law known as Section 1983 allows you to sue for civil rights violations by the police but not by private citizens.
Again with the special rights.. The only reason you have special protection from police violation, is because police have special violation rights. A citizens making a citizens arrest is subject to both criminal and civil prosecution. The liability is huge.

We need to distinguish legal private guards and criminal private guards (e.g. impersonating an officer), and then it's down to "stop the criminal ones".

2nd worldFebruary 27, 2007 9:15 AM

i dont know about the US, but even if there are "private" police forces at least in my country they never could get police-like powers and even if in some cases the police would use them as subcontractors (or some shopowners etc.) they will either be charged as official at the court that will police-cases get ruled at or they will be treated as private and can be sued like johnny-neighbour who pinched my bag.

but in a country that allows guns but not boobs in public anything is possible ;)

MiscFebruary 27, 2007 9:28 AM

The response you've gotten, Bruce, is not at all surprising. The notion that police powers can be privatized is a rather central tenet to many libertarians seeking to either do away with government or shrink it to unrecognizable levels.

For a thorough debunking of libertarian notions that private security forces would be more desirable than public ones (assuming one needs to have the intuitively obvious explained), Jonathan Wolff's "Robert Nozick: Property, Justice, and the Minimal State" is pretty much indispensible.

Another KevinFebruary 27, 2007 9:40 AM

@Misc

I wasn't suggesting that privatization of the police force is a good thing when I recalled Pinkerton -- more making the observation "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." The abuses committed by Pinkerton and Burns detectives against organized labor, beginning about 1870 and tapering off only with the La Follette hearings in the late 1930s are legendary. The Teamsters still use "pinkerton" as a generic term meaning "hired goon."

MiscFebruary 27, 2007 9:49 AM

AK -- Perhaps I painted with too broad a brush. I was spurred to write primarily by Zeph's first comment in the thread.

SpiderFebruary 27, 2007 9:54 AM

Well. I've got a solution to this problem that should satisfy everyone. When I was in highschool, we had uniformed city police walking the halls. They were real city trained police officers, that were contracted out by the school district. ( there was a drive by shooting the year before I was a freshmen. rough side of town, but good math teachers!)

Just hire more police and let them be contracted out by cooperations, banks who ever. Or conversely pass laws requiring the security forces to be trained by the police and have to adhere to the same set of guidelines.

AndrewFebruary 27, 2007 10:01 AM

Thanks for feeding the stereotypes about private security. Again.

What you don't seem to realize is that private security companies are actually much better controlled than police agencies.

1) Private security is often held to strict liability standards when making arrests and using force. Litigation against a private security company is much more likely to be successful. Police are allowed to make mistakes that violate rights, endanger lives, and damage the public trust . . . and where a police officer MIGHT be written up and sent out on the street to do it again, I guarantee a security officer would be arrested, lose their license, and just might go to jail themselves.

2) The client, often as a money-making entity,is vulnerable in the court of public opinion. Most contract security guards can be let go "instantly" by a client, "Get that yahoo off my site!" being sufficient. Most security contracts have 30 day termination clauses.

Firing a police officer with civil service protection almost takes an act of God itself. Cleaning up a corrupt agency can take many years.

>> Training and regulation is another problem. Private security guards often receive minimal training, if any. They don't graduate from police academies.

Do you think that police academy training is the be-all and end-all of good police work? If so, why do Field Training Officers often tell rookies, "Forget all that stuff you learned in the academy."

I agree that good training is required. However, private industry -- especially clients and "Mom & Pop" companies -- often isn't willing to pay for it. Thus the need for government regulation.

I agree completely that private security needs to be tightly and consistently regulated to address the potential abuses you describe.

>> And while some states regulate these guard companies, others have no regulations at all: anyone can put on a uniform and play policeman.

I don't know of a single state where impersonating a peace officer is not a crime. I don't know of a nationwide security company that doesn't have its own minimum training standards irregardless of jurisdiction.

>> Abuses of power, brutality, and illegal behavior are much more common among private security guards than real police.

Prove this. If you can. My experience out here in California is that the public police frequently abuse their power and break the law routinely and without sanction. Most of the time, the abuses are minor . . . but there is no recourse nor redress, because it is nearly impossible to sue a public police agency.

Again, private security guards as private persons are MUCH more vulnerable to civil litigation and arrest for misconduct than are police officers. We know it, too, which is why the best security personnel take a laid-back approach in the field and are quick to call for backup, but slow to escalate an encounter.

>> A horrific example of this happened in South Carolina in 1995. Ricky Coleman, an unlicensed and untrained Best Buy security guard with a violent criminal record, choked a fraud suspect to death while another security guard held him down.

And I could quote you many more examples where police officers have either killed suspects or allowed them to die in custody.

>> privately funded policemen are not protecting us or working in our best interests.

Why don't you go kick another sacred cow . . . PUBLIC POLICE working off duty for private persons, doing security work with police authority and little or no oversight. (That little oversight is ostensibly from the police department itself . . .)

Privately funded off-duty police are a much bigger threat to people's rights. They have full police powers and the kind of people who can afford to hire them, are pretty much immune to litigation.

There is a benefit to society to having five times as many private police as public police. Security prevents crime. We see something, we call it in. More eyes, more ears, more presence. We're not police ... but by doing our job and doing it well, we help keep society safer for everyone.

A Different AndrewFebruary 27, 2007 10:19 AM

Nobody has brought up the Cook County (i.e. public) police force at Stroger Hospital in Chicago yet -- they are now being closed down ostensibly for budget reasons, but apparently they were in some cases behaving more like thugs than cops...

JimFebruary 27, 2007 10:25 AM

Most likely the flunkies from the police academy end up in these positions. The whole thing reminds me of the people who go out and buy military uniforms and medals and pretend to be war heroes. If we had private firefighters, chances are the arson rate would go way up just to drum up new business.

aikimarkFebruary 27, 2007 10:42 AM

Background:
I live in the RTP area (Durham, actually) and helped train local security staff in defensive tactics back in the 90s. This was mostly "hands on" take-down and cuffing training. I'm an Aikido black belt and my sensei was the (contracted) teacher. Our non-police force students were shopping mall security staff, university police, and hospital security staff.

========================
In order to carry a gun (with live ammo) and make arrests, the security person needs to have completed law enforcement training provided by the state. Otherwise, the arrests are merely detentions (citizen arrests) until the police can make it official. In the case of university police and hospital security, the staff are state employees and derive arrest powers from the state.

========================
My opinion is that it is nice to have some employment opportunities for all our rednecks, longing for a job where they wield a gun and some measure of authority.

I'm reminded of a letter written by Abraham Lincoln, warning us of the dangers of corporations. In this case, the corporations are acquiring armed manpower that was the sole domain of the state. Lincoln's concern was the growing threat of our government becoming an Oligarchy. This security force acquisition might just be the camel's nose in the tent.

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
-- U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
(letter to Col. William F. Elkins)

========================
My former house mate actually served as a strike buster for the Appalachia coal mines after he left active duty Army service. He and serveral of his SF buddies were seriously armed and were charged with protecting the physical property of the mine and the trucks transporting the coal. So this type of privatized security is at least 30 years old. The coal mining states and local municipalities were complicit in this formation as the mine owners exerted their political influence to get their way.

Stephan SamuelFebruary 27, 2007 10:53 AM

@Spider & Roxanne,

Ah, if only it was that easy.

Many police forces around the country and certainly the military are having a very hard time finding recruits. Private police forces and military contractors, being the market power, raise the pay and up-front benefits that a police officer or soldier can make. Hang a carrot and they will come. The truly qualified ones go there, although private forces also get their share of "filler." Many more of the people who end up at the police exam or recruiter's office lately have sketchy backgrounds, and those government organizations are lowering their standards progressively to meet their quotas.

This begs the question, "why are the private ones cheaper?" The answer is bureaucracy. The less tangible benefits -- job security, pensions, PBA, USO, etc. -- and oversight cost money and private forces are given the choice when and how to provide them, if at all. This is not something you can change about government. It used to be something that shouldn't be changed, until the sanctity of law enforcement and military power was lost to privatization.

In my opinion, private police should be given no power more than a common citizen. For a person to have more power, they should be individually deputized by a government officer. It still leaves an avenue for provisional appointments that aren't formal adoption into the police force.

As for the military, something like the Geneva Convention should restrict who can be part of a military and what powers civilizans have. Let the civilians clean the toilets and cook the food (but not at the same time). Don't let them do things like give directions to people with weapons or interrogate foreigners. If you're a civilian and you're good, all five branches of the services already have ways to get you a rank. Yes, it involves boot camp or at least officer school; there's a very good reason for this. As a side effect, if it was covered by an international treaty, it would also resolve issues of who is an enemy combatant and give the world a much clearer picture of what a terrorist really is.

Fraud GuyFebruary 27, 2007 10:58 AM

The issue of store/rent-a-cop security (from a friend who used to work as one) is not huge, especially if the companies involved are liable for background checks and proper vetting/training of their staff.

I would think that the true concern should be about security forces like Blackwater, USA, based out of North Carolina (and now coming to Illinois). They have sufficient personnel and equipment to form at least a regimental military unit, and provide military weapons training to their personnel. The owner is a political backer of GWB, and the company has extensive contracts for fully armed private security in Iraq (it was their employees who were killed in the very public spectacles a few years ago in Iraq).

nzrussFebruary 27, 2007 11:00 AM

>>>"Lincoln's concern was the growing threat of our government becoming an Oligarchy"..

LOL...

JimFebruary 27, 2007 11:05 AM

This begs the question, "why are the private ones cheaper?" The answer is bureaucracy. We had a private company buy the water system. Now all the water mains are breaking. It would of been cheaper, except now you have no water and a flooded basement. Bureaucracy exists in private and public companies. The same people doing this crap are now trying to sell the highways out from under the public. Next you'll have private state patrols. Idiots!

LeadhyenaFebruary 27, 2007 11:09 AM

Neil Stephenson predicted this in Snow Crash many years ago, and took it one step further; with the wholesale auction of parts of government, each department became its own capitalistic entity. This resulted in the privatization of cops, judges, and jails. It's fascinating that Stephenson didn't propose a complete anarchy: there were in fact laws that these 'burbclave' cops had to follow as well. As for me, I've accepted it as inevitable, a result of the capitalistic times we live in. Call me Hobbes, but I still do believe that the people will rebel before it gets too horrible.

mdfFebruary 27, 2007 11:29 AM

">> Abuses of power, brutality,
and illegal behavior are much
more common among private
security guards than real police.

Prove this. If you can."

... demands Andrew.

Well, I can only offer eye-witness testimony. One one occasion, I witnessed a private security dude tackling someone about to leave the store. Painful. And on another occasion, I saw the plain-clothed security guy outside the store physically lift, turn sideways and drop -- quite hard -- someone right on the sidewalk in front of me.

I've never seen a uniformed cop do as much (~25 years of observation at hand). No doubt they have the good taste to just take them to some lonely alley and beat the shit out of them in privacy.

Anyways, the whole argument that "well, these private guards would never abuse their prisoners, as they would be sued into peonage!" ignores the fact that virtually all of these people who would be abused lack the means to take their persecutors to court. No bug surprise here either, as this is the #1 reason why few cases proceed against normal police officers too.

Jim: "Most likely the flunkies from the police academy end up in these positions."

The usual joke goes like this: rejected by the police, then rejected by the military and finally accepted as a private security guard. One hopes there is little truth to this, but the evidence is difficult to ignore...

Matthew SkalaFebruary 27, 2007 11:30 AM

I was about to mention Snow Crash myself. But in that book, were there actually any laws the private police had to follow? I don't recall their being subject to any authority beyond the three-ring binder of standard operating procedure, which presumably derived its force simply from the contract between the police and whatever entity that hired them. You'll note that they accepted a bribe from YT, didn't carry out their end of the bargain, and there were no repercussions. Presumably the laws of the nation/franchise in which they were operating at any given moment would apply, but it was made clear that those could change every dozen metres as you walked or drove from one nation/franchise to another, and I don't recall any instances of larger-scale laws being applied to anyone.

Dissillusioned DaveFebruary 27, 2007 11:36 AM

My former neighbor, a "public" police officer, told me that their duty is to produce successful convictions. They essentially work as an arm of the prosecutors' office. I brought up the "to serve and protect" motto and he just restated the same thing.

SamFebruary 27, 2007 11:48 AM

> A horrific example of this happened in South Carolina in 1995.
> Ricky Coleman, an unlicensed and untrained Best Buy
> security guard with a violent criminal record, choked a
> fraud suspect to death while another security guard
> held him down.

Those readers who are wondering why Bruce put in this vivid example should re-read this:

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/01/...

Just sayin' ...

Nathan WhiteFebruary 27, 2007 12:06 PM

Personally I think the police departments could use a little healthy competition. My experience lately is they sit in speed traps and hand out speeding tickets for 5mph over the limit, but when you report a crime such as your car being broken into, or a suspcious person on your property, they never seem to have enough people to send out, even if it is just to take a report. I can certainly understand why private citizens feel that their protection needs aren't being met by the local police departments.

At least in my state they seem to have taken the stance of protecting me from myself, which I never saw as a desirable part of their job.

Statism For A New CenturyFebruary 27, 2007 12:09 PM

@Misc

And for a thorough debunking of Wolffian assumptions, please see "Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 1: Rules and Order" by F.A. Hayek. Better yet: "The Constitution of Liberty", by the same author.

Here's another book you'll hope no one reads: "Our Enemy the State", Albert Nock. The list is almost as long as the apologias for statism.

Statist PresumptionFebruary 27, 2007 12:27 PM

When deciding who should be authorized to exert physical force against other individuals, the knee-jerk reaction that "if it's statist, it's probably right and good, and if it's private, it's probably wrong and bad" belies a sophomoric understanding of the nature of moral rights. A ten-year-old child would respond that "only a policeman" should be able to do such things, because this is as far as the child has considered the issue; it's what he has seen, and he equates the way things are with the way things should be.

Examine the issue more deeply, and one finds it difficult to adduce consistent reasons why a person wearing a badge of public authority will behave differently from how he would act wearing a private badge. Indeed, the idea of private action often connotes personal responsibility, while acting under the guise of "public officialdom" conjures up images of repugnant behaviour defended with the pretext: "I was only following orders; I have a public mandate; my hand was forced; I have state authority."

Pinkerton BlackwaterFebruary 27, 2007 12:29 PM

The question is all about incentives and constraints.

What motivates local police departments? Catching bad guys. What systems are in place to control them? Centuries of law, the media, and for many, a sense of honor and brotherhood.

What motivates private security firms? Getting contracts. What systems are in place to control them? Torts.

Ruling a country with hired guns is a recipe for downfall. That's been clear to thinking people since at least the time of Machiavelli.

Geoff LaneFebruary 27, 2007 12:32 PM

Surely this all comes down to...

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

If you have to have private security forces, there must be another organisation to police the private police.

As someone once said, if the government isn't running the biggest, meanest gang in town they may as well give up and go home.

jlFebruary 27, 2007 12:39 PM

@Jim:

>If we had private firefighters, chances are the arson rate would go way up just to drum up new business.

Gee, we have private tire companies too. I bet they go around slashing tires just to drum up more business. Come on...

zviFebruary 27, 2007 12:42 PM

@Statist Presumption
This is not about simplistic/childish prejudices.

Anybody "authorized to exert physical force against other individuals" must be kept in place by robust systems.

And besides the fact that governmental law enforcement is far more carefully watched and regulated, their motives are more aligned with the public good.

We want Power, not FreedomFebruary 27, 2007 12:43 PM

@Pinkerton Blackwater

>>Ruling a country with hired guns is a recipe for downfall.

Yes. And what we're most interested in, is how to continue to rule, how to remain in power. Why not make sure you control all the guns? And that your henchmen are the biggest, meanest gang in town? That ought to assure your continued power.

Hey, works for Castro.

(Wait, what's that thing that Cuba's people don't have? Hmmm. Tip of my tongue. Starts with a 'F' ....)

AnonymousFebruary 27, 2007 12:44 PM

@jl
Gee, we have private tire companies too. I bet they go around slashing tires just to drum up more business. Come on...

__________________

I used to work for Goodyear. That was my job.

Statist PresumptionFebruary 27, 2007 12:48 PM

@zvi

You just fell through a very big hole, Zvi. :)

(Read the last sentence of your post.)

JerichoFebruary 27, 2007 12:52 PM

@Geoff
"if the government isn't running the biggest, meanest gang in town they may as well give up and go home."

Exactly. If you cannot enforce the law with your own forces, you are simply not in control.

Exhibit A: Pakistani tribal areas
Exhibit B: Lebanon's Hezbollah
Exhibit C: Palestine's Hamas
Exhibit D: Colombia's FARC

And I can go on. Even in the US, there are places controlled more by gangs than by the law.


Bruce SchneierFebruary 27, 2007 1:14 PM

"And you found this in the Constitution where?"

Nowhere? What in the world does that have to do with anything? There are lots of things I believe should be true -- firewall configurations, for example -- that are not found in the Constitution.

Bruce SchneierFebruary 27, 2007 1:20 PM

"Can you cite a source for private cops being given traditional government police powers (search warrants and arrest powers as you suggest Tennessee FedEx guards have)?"

That's the problem with newspaper op eds; no links.

The FedEx tidbit is from a Wall Street Journal article; I don't have a URL and the site is behind a paywall.

Here's an article from The Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/...

And this is the most interesting legal writing on Ricky Coleman:

http://www.nlg-npap.org/html/research/...

Tim VailFebruary 27, 2007 1:22 PM

I probably have thought of this police thing less than you have. But, I feel that you provided very little evidence besides a few ancedotes that private police is worse than public. Private would mean more accountability (they can be sued, and their contract can be terminated on short notice) due to market forces. Meaning, if they don't do a good job, they are out of a job. This is my single biggest qualm about government in general -- they often do not have the financial responsibility of the businesses.

Since you seem to have an interest in the economics of security, I think it might do some good to look at this issue from those lenses. As others have said above...well...there are other studies into police forces that say private is better than public. There are other studies that say public is better than private.

To sum up, I do not feel like you provided enough evidence for me to agree with you on this issue.

Bruce SchneierFebruary 27, 2007 1:23 PM

"What you don't seem to realize is that private security companies are actually much better controlled than police agencies."

Um, actually they're not. They're much less well controlled.

Bruce SchneierFebruary 27, 2007 1:25 PM

"Where did this anti-private cop angle come from? I'm just not seeing it. People have been hiring folks to protect them for at least as long as governments have been using folks to collect taxes and enforce laws."

My point is basically that these people are being given more and more police powers, while at the same time are not required to follow the laws we have to protect us from the police. It's not about private guards; it's about these guards turning into a shadow police force.

RustyFebruary 27, 2007 1:28 PM

@We want Power, not Freedom

You're f'ing kidding, right? You seriously believe you have Freedom in America?

The freedom to die because you can't afford medical treatment, (unlike Cuba, Canada, UK, most of the quote unquote civilized world)?

The freedom to have your city devastated by a hurricane and left to rot by your government and fellow 'citizens'?

The freedom to be shot by one of the 200 million firearms in private hands?

The freedom of having all of your electronic communications monitored by your government, with no recourse?

The freedom to be killed in an illegal and immoral war to the benefit of the corporations, the 'real' power in your capitalist paradise?

The freedom to be wrongly convicted and put to death by the state?

If that's your idea of 'freedom' cowboy, it's all yours.

Bruce SchneierFebruary 27, 2007 1:29 PM

"To sum up, I do not feel like you provided enough evidence for me to agree with you on this issue."

Fair enough. In my defense, the newspaper only gave me 650 words.

antimediaFebruary 27, 2007 1:34 PM

"Training and regulation is another problem. Private security guards often receive minimal training, if any. They don't graduate from police academies. And while some states regulate these guard companies, others have no regulations at all: anyone can put on a uniform and play policeman. Abuses of power, brutality, and illegal behavior are much more common among private security guards than real police."

Did you just make this up? Or do you have some facts/statistics/research backing it up?

Captain MoroniFebruary 27, 2007 2:12 PM

In the U.S., we believe that all sovereign power resides with individuals.

In order to form societies, groups of individuals get together from time to time and delegate those powers which they already possess to some representative whom they choose to exercise power on their behalf. So, for instance, the town hires a Sherriff to protect the property WHICH THEY ALREADY HAVE A GOD-GIVEN RIGHT TO PROTECT. Now, this delegation is not absolute: on my property, I have as much authority to exercise force for the protection of myself and my family and my property as I ever did. I can even hire private individuals to protect my property. But, along with my dozens of neighbors, I have delegated some of my personal authority to a "public servant", the Sherriff. In my absense, he has the authority to enter onto my property and use force against individuals for the protection of lives and property.

None of this gives the Sherriff any power to do anything that We the People don't have sovereign right and power to do ourselves. Any government that takes upon itself powers that it does not derive via delegation from the governed is morally flawed. As is any government that strips its citizens of the right and/or means to act in defense of their lives, their families, and their property.

The U.S. Constitution's 2nd Amendment was about ensuring that the central Government could never strip its citizens of the means to protect themselves, should the other parts of the plan to prevent tyranny fail.

http://www.usiap.org/Legacy/Addresses/...

Captain MoroniFebruary 27, 2007 2:19 PM

I want to say, though the above link is found on the website of the independent american party, I am neither a member nor an advocate for that party. It happened to be one of many links I could have posted, and this was the first one I found that had formatting I liked.

Eric CramptonFebruary 27, 2007 2:23 PM

Bruce: I think you're wrong here. Bruce Benson has done rather important work looking at the use of private security - check his book "To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice", New York Uni Press, 1998.

While on paper we may have more rights in our dealings with the police, how many police officers are ever charged when they murder civilians in botched drug raids? See Radley Balko's blog here: http://www.theagitator.com/ . A private security guard would surely face charges in cases where police officers don't. Who guards the guardians?

X the UnknownFebruary 27, 2007 2:23 PM

@Pinkerton Blackwater "Ruling a country with hired guns is a recipe for downfall. That's been clear to thinking people since at least the time of Machiavelli."

In fact, while it was "hired swords" not "hired guns", the policy didn't work out so well for Ancient Rome, either.

------------------------------------------------------

Clearly, "private security" in various forms has been around for a long time - probably longer than "public security". It's probably a good thing, overall, and probably isn't going away, regardless.

However, private security exercising powers of the State (beyond those of an ordinary citizen) is another matter. At that point, it just become another form of public security, with a more-intricate chain-of-command. Any "granting" (whether explicit, or by failure to intervene against arrogation) of "official police powers" inherently implies a level of bureaucracy: at least, the state bureaucracy involved in granting/oversight/enforcement of "police powers", plus whatever organization the private security entity itself has.

At any given time and place, the relevant question for "consumers" (tax-paying citizens) is "which provides the best service for the least long-term cost?" This probably changes over time, as various agendas become entrenched. On the surface, "traditional" public police forces would seem to provide the shortest "chain of responsibility" back to the public. But, as has been pointed out, various special treatments evolve over time ("...we must protect our police..." legislation of various sorts), which eventually may, taken all together, make any given instance of "traditional" public police less-responsive to the public needs and desires than private security would be.

Make no mistake, however - once the "private security" forces start assuming state-sponsored police powers, they are no longer truly "private security". They are just more loosely-coupled (and possibly harder to control) agents of the state.

Not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly not an expansion of state powers that we want to enter into lightly, with no forethought or adequate mechanisms for supervision and control.

Bruce SchneierFebruary 27, 2007 2:25 PM

"Did you just make this up? Or do you have some facts/statistics/research backing it up?"

I posted a couple of links, above.

I have more at home, which I will post when I return. (Sorry; I'm travelling.)

Porter RockwellFebruary 27, 2007 2:45 PM

@Captain Moroni,

> the property WHICH THEY ALREADY
> HAVE A GOD-GIVEN RIGHT TO
> PROTECT.

You are thinking of the wrong country. In the US, governments are instituted by men, power derives from the people, government should be by consent of the governed.

But there are plenty of other countries where God is in charge. If the day comes when God decides to rule America, I'm sure he'll get no resistance from us.

We want Power, not FreedomFebruary 27, 2007 2:56 PM

@Rusty

Well, you're right, Rusty. We Anericans have much less freedom that we had even as little as fifty years ago. Each of the restrictions on freedom you list, with the exception of the 'freedom' to die because you can't afford medical care, is precisely an effect of statist policies in action here in America. The U.S. reeks of statism; Cuba's much worse.

But the fact that U.S. citizens have surrendered an enormous amount of freedom in recent memory does not oblige us to surrender yet more. The idea that the state had better jealously guard its franchise on police power speaks well to Machiavellian dicta; what it doesn't do is preserve or promote liberty.

Oh, and the health care in Cuba is just stellar. ;)

TanukiFebruary 27, 2007 3:02 PM

A question for Bruce: Why is private security wrong when it's looking after physical security at a mall, retirement-community or hospital, but right when it's looking after logical security on a network or server?

Security always works to an agenda. I'd rather be employing them directly and having them work to _my_ agenda, instead of having local/national governments employ them to work to _their_ agendas.

LarryFebruary 27, 2007 3:09 PM

Concerned about rights?

Go to the legislators/congress and get civil rights and freedom of information to apply equally to all performing in the same capacity, whether paid from public or private funds. If purporting to be police, the same rules of engagement should apply and can, if legislators have the will to make it so.

rdivilbissFebruary 27, 2007 3:53 PM

In Kansas City, MO., (since I can only speak to local experience) the Police Dept is operated by an Board of Commissioners appointed by the State Governor.

Private security is tightly regulated and licensed by the Police Dept. Any citizen who feels abused by private security firms may not only seek civil and criminal relief, but may also complain directly to the police department who will investigate and revoke the license of a security agent.

The majority of the private security firms are run by retired police captains and majors just like many of the areas smaller police departments.

For the most part we have not seen any ongoing issues of egregious wrong doing by local security any more than we see from local police.

The last major incident involved a security guard who happened to be retired Police, so it wasn't like he didn't have training. He did and he made a grievous error and has been charged criminally.

At the same time, two local police officers are currently facing firing and a civil suit over a much smaller error.

Its hardly orwellian. Both the police and private security are subject to human error both of the heart and of the mind.

I'm sure there are differences all over the country depending on local laws, but I'm much more afraid of the TSA staff at the airport.

derfFebruary 27, 2007 3:55 PM

Personally, I'm concerned by both private and public police misconduct. However, I believe that SWAT busting down the wrong door is the larger threat to our lifespan.

If you are awakened in the middle of the night by hearing your door splintering to bits, wouldn't your first reaction be to arm yourself and start firing when you see a shadowy figure with a gun pointed in your direction? Wouldn't that make you a government ballistics target? In other words - through its own actions in picking the time and manner of serving a summons (especially if they happen to pick the wrong house), the public police force has deliberately set you up to be executed.

JoeFebruary 27, 2007 4:07 PM

"Corruption and incompetence were the norm, and justice was scarce.

And you believe that this has changed with modern police forces? Did the Great Boston Lite-brite Massacree really make no impression on you at all?"

What an idiot. Why wouldn't terrorists just use this technique to attack now?

These things were attached to the base of bridges and in hospital store rooms. Hindsight is 20/20, so STFU.

Bruce SchneierFebruary 27, 2007 4:21 PM

"Why is private security wrong when it's looking after physical security at a mall, retirement-community or hospital, but right when it's looking after logical security on a network or server?"

It's either right in both places or wrong in both places, depending on exactly what we're talking about. If we're talking about private guards that guard private property, then they're right in both the real world and in cyberspace. If we're talking about private police departments that have police powers but are able to bypass the security measures put in place to protect us from them (FOIA, warrants, civil rights, etc.), then they're both wrong. I have long been against the sort of vigilante justice you see in some of those counterattack network security programs.

aikimarkFebruary 27, 2007 4:25 PM

I think private police forces are a natural progression of the rise of self-defense rights movement.

Home owners can use deadly force to protect property, not just their lives. Home owners can shoot intruders in the back, even after they have left their houses.

Florida legalized the right of its citizens to shoot ANYONE they perceive as acting in an agressive manner toward them. (tourists beware)

Stephan SamuelFebruary 27, 2007 4:49 PM

@Rusty (mostly) and derf (a little),

You've managed to completely miss the point of American freedom. The line is, "life, liberty and the *pursuit of* happiness," and certainly not, "life, liberty and happiness." The government is pretty good at providing life and liberty. You're on your own with happiness.

The police sometimes bust down the wrong door. They're human, they make mistakes. If it's criminal, they usually get charged. If you believe otherwise, publish your conspiracy theory and see how many people are interested. You have that right too.

In a capitalist world, if you can't afford health care, it's because you're not working. If you would like a free ride, move to Canada or Sweden. Don't spout statistics about how many people can't afford health care: if they go to school and get a proper education, they can find a full-time job that offers benefits, as almost all do. The unemployment rate in this country is not nearly as bad as... say... Canada. Whether you like it or not, ensuring 300 million Americans have 2 working arms, legs, eyes, ears, kidneys, lungs, etc. falls under happiness, not life. The government will keep you alive to the extent reasonable. Keeping yourself happy and healthy, once again, is your responsibility.

The government did what they could about Katrina. People were asleep on the watch and were dealt with accordingly. What plan did you have to save the Gulf Coast?

Almost everyone who gets shot in this country is shot by an unregulated firearm. My freedom to bear arms does not infringe upon your right to life. There will always be criminals; if you don't believe that, learn some economics. If we had a good police system, a public one that ran well (as many do), the crime rate would be low (as it is many places).

Do you really believe that the CIA, FBI or NSA has the resources to read every email that everyone writes? They watch you if you're worth watching. As above, sometimes they make mistakes. That's the price we pay as humans.

The war we're fighting in Iraq isn't illegal, and I don't believe it's immoral. You're welcome to think it is immoral, but my vote cancels yours. If you really believe we're in it only for the oil, maybe you should sell your car and convince everyone in the country to do the same. Good luck on the mass transit. If you think we're in it just for corporate profits, identify the companies you're sure is profiting the most and buy their stock. You have that right. Warren Buffett will be knocking on your door for stock advice in no time. Good luck with that too.

Wrong conviction is always possible, but is generally rare. The incidence of wrong convictions on death row is even lower. Mistakes happen (once again, we're all human) but in general, we only kill people who committed crimes that warrant it. Maybe your view of what warrants capital punishment is different than those around you, but laws are made by representative government. Don't like it? Write your congresspeople (they're not all male, like in many less-free countries), move to another state, or Canada. You have that right. Maybe consider why the population of Canada is so low despite the fact that you seem to think it's utopia.

Now, explain to me again how I don't have freedom as an American?

I have the freedom to start an enterprise or otherwise make a fair salary. Slavery's been abolished and human trafficking is at a historical low in this country. I have the right to change my government if I can convince enough people I'm right. I live with no fear of death thanks to thousands of brave Americans who put their lives on the line for me. I can travel as I like around the country and the world. Most Americans (several nines past 99%) have never been wrongly convicted of a crime. I even have a strong economic system behind me, allowing me to gather wealth to keep my family happy. Of course, none of these points are highlighted by the media, unlike your talking points.

*You* have the right to change your destiny in this country. Read some history, learn about the horrible conditions that people have suffered in the last 100 years. Then travel and see for yourself the horrible conditions that people are suffering around the world right now.

Can't We All Just Pass A BroadLaw™?February 27, 2007 5:38 PM

@Tanuki

You're gonna have to work pretty hard to pry Bruce Schneier from the warm, cuddly, paternalistic arms of the leftist-liberal State in which he imagines himself to flourish. If state officials tell Bruce that he can't publish unconstrained, he'll put up a tooth-and-nail fight. But when they tell him that they'll take care of security (both cyber and physical) from on high, at a "national level", then they've spoken just the right soothing sounds to keep Bruce from asking any more questions, like how much is it going to cost, and who exactly has to foot the bill. Those aren't proper questions for a taxpayer to ask, especially if the answers point to private enterprise as a vastly superior solution.

Billions of squandered dollars later (literally: http://tinyurl.com/yoql3t) , what solution could be simpler than to just raise taxes? We all owe it to society anyway, right?

Pat CahalanFebruary 27, 2007 5:43 PM

@ aikimark

> Home owners can use deadly force to protect property, not just their lives. Home owners can
> shoot intruders in the back, even after they have left their houses.

This is factually incorrect. This may be true in some states in the U.S., but at the very least this is not true in California. California Penal Code:

196. Homicide is justifiable when committed by public officers and those acting by their command in their aid and assistance, either--
1. In obedience to any judgment of a competent Court; or,
2. When necessarily committed in overcoming actual resistance to the execution of some legal process, or in the discharge of any other legal duty; or,
3. When necessarily committed in retaking felons who have been rescued or have escaped, or when necessarily committed in arresting persons charged with felony, and who are fleeing from justice or resisting such arrest.

197. Homicide is also justifiable when committed by any person in any of the following cases:
1. When resisting any attempt to murder any person, or to commit a felony, or to do some great bodily injury upon any person; or,
2. When committed in defense of habitation, property, or person, against one who manifestly intends or endeavors, by violence or surprise, to commit a felony, or against one who manifestly intends and endeavors, in a violent, riotous or tumultuous manner, to enter the habitation of another for the purpose of offering violence to any person therein; or,
3. When committed in the lawful defense of such person, or of a wife or husband, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant of such person, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great bodily injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished; but such person, or the person in whose behalf the defense was made, if he was the assailant or engaged in mutual combat, must really and in good faith have endeavored to decline any further struggle before the homicide was committed; or,
4. When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed, or in lawfully suppressing any riot, or in lawfully keeping and preserving the peace.

198. A bare fear of the commission of any of the offenses mentioned in subdivisions 2 and 3 of Section 197, to prevent which homicide may be lawfully committed, is not sufficient to justify it. But the circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person, and the party killing must have acted under the influence of such fears alone.

198.5. Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.

As used in this section, great bodily injury means a significant or substantial physical injury.

199. The homicide appearing to be justifiable or excusable, the person indicted must, upon his trial, be fully acquitted and discharged.

aikimarkFebruary 27, 2007 6:15 PM

@Pat Cahalan

I was writing from NC perspective. About a decade ago, a Durham homeowner confronted five teenagers in his garage, ordering them to stop what they were doing and drop to the ground. They immediately ran towards him (since he was between the kids and the garage entrance). He started firing his rifle, including shooting one of the kids in the back in the yard.

After an unsuccessful prosecution by the DA (not Mike Nifong), the NC state legistature passed a new law providing expanded protection rights to homeowners. There was popular support for this legislation as there was outcry from Durham homeowners about the prosecution.

=========================
I forgot to mention the dreaded Fox News security force incident from March 2006, highlighting the use of corporate private security by individuals within the corporation:
http://mediamatters.org/items/200603060009


justfor the sake of argumentFebruary 27, 2007 7:38 PM

@Pat Cahalan

A person commits a felony by entering your domicile, and "the circumstances [must be] (are) sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person"

Then:

"Homicide is also justifiable when committed by ""any"" person in any of the following cases:"

... "4. When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed"

Seems a lawyer could definitely mount a defense for the homeowner shooting the fleeing felon if the homeowner has fear that ""the circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person," and was shooting at the fleeing felon to "apprehend any person for any felony committed."

Depends on the circumstances, the quality of the defense attorney and the leanings of the jury...but the statue has sufficient room for that defense. Best the home owner not make any statements without counsel to the police, and that person will certainly be arrested and probably tried, but not necessarily convicted.

Fear doesn't just go away because the felon leaves the domicile although the prosecutor will argue it should have. Anyone who has lived through a truly traumatic situation will have a heightened fear level and surge of adrenaline for some time after the event, and certainly within seconds of a felon having threated that person and his domicile.

Joel SaxFebruary 27, 2007 8:04 PM

A real chiller, Bruce. I wonder if there is a constitutional defense -- that you can't be arrested by a private police force because these powers are reserved to the government?

justfor the sake of argumentFebruary 27, 2007 8:20 PM

"In many countries, almost any free member of the society can (at least in theory) arrest someone."

In the US that is the case (but you better know what you are doing, lest you get hurt, sued or charged with unlawful imprisonment.)

Joe HillFebruary 27, 2007 9:21 PM

Police Academy XVII: Final Takedown

They're back, and this time they're not joking!

You want fries with that summons, bud?

C GomezFebruary 27, 2007 9:30 PM

This seems alarmist... ringing the bell about a slippery slope, which is a logical fallacy. Sure, it would be wrong to say "all is right with the world," but there is certainly a place for private security.

I do agree with something one poster pointed out, off-duty cops get to moonlight privately and engage full police powers. That is far more scary, real, and present that any threat alluded to in the article.

Frank Ch. EiglerFebruary 27, 2007 9:38 PM

There's this:

> Of course, there are instances of policemen overstepping their bounds, but these are exceptions, and the police officers and departments are ultimately responsible to the public.

And then this:

> A horrific example of this happened in South Carolina in 1995. Ricky Coleman, an unlicensed and untrained Best Buy security guard

Cute rhetorical trick. When a police officer does it, it's an exception and beneath debate. When a private guy does it, let's spend a paragraph.

Unless you already have some data that abuses occur more as per some plausible measure, your asymmetric treatment falsely implies a trend. Shame.

paulFebruary 27, 2007 9:52 PM

The fact that private security forces work for the owners of a particular piece of property means they have incentives for both false-positive behavior (detaining, assaulting etc people who aren't breaking any law or rule) and false-negative behavior (ignoring violations of the law by their employers or people under their employers' protection. Public police forces have some of the same incentives, but they're not explicit in the paychecks.

My own concern with private security forces is the degree to which their employers seem to expect them to engage in non-security activities, something that tends to result in them doing both jobs badly. Obviously all evidence of this will be anecdotal, but I can still recall my sense of extreme unease watching an armed security guard at a local store standing on a chair fiddling with the automatic closing mechanism of the store's front door, 9mm pistol on his hip, utterly oblivious to the dozens of people brushing by him every minute on their way into the store or down the sidewalk.

AndrewFebruary 27, 2007 10:13 PM

>> "Where did this anti-private cop angle come from? I'm just not seeing it. People have been hiring folks to protect them for at least as long as governments have been using folks to collect taxes and enforce laws."

> My point is basically that these people are being given more and more police powers, while at the same time are not required to follow the laws we have to protect us from the police. It's not about private guards; it's about these guards turning into a shadow police force.

My point in reply is twofold. Private guards are heavily regulated, not least of which is by the police themselves. Admittedly it has an air of cutting down on competition, but it's a lot better than nothing.

Our laws to protect us from the police are broken and ineffective, especially as the power of the judiciary weakens.

The shadow police force you mention exists. We sometimes call it "off duty officers" or "executive protection." They are often former dirty cops and are sometimes quite scary.

They have as little in common with the typical private guard force as you do with a crooked mob lawyer.

quincunxFebruary 27, 2007 10:24 PM

Bruce,

If the public police monopoly were so effective and economical, there would be no reason to have a private police force.

So what does tell you?

Do you know what was the initial purpose of having public police, and why it made its appearance in the US in the mid 1800's?

Was it to safeguard life and property? NO! it was specifically created to harass the incoming Catholic immigrants. The very same reason public schooling arose during that time: to inculcate the immigrants with the proper 'civic virtues'.

Before public police - we had local associations and private companies (corporate law was not yet perverted until 1860s). They didn't go away because they sucked, but because the government regulated them out of economic existence.

Government being a criminal gang itself - is incapable of solving crime, that is why we need a private police force.

WylieFebruary 28, 2007 12:46 AM

I think due to the length of the article, some are missing a key point. With private police forces increasingly being granted more and more public police powers, I can see a problem.

If private police need these additional powers and immunities, why not just hire more public police to begin with?

There needs to be a clear difference between a police officer and a security guard. I'd like to know which one I am dealing with in any given situation. If it comes to the point where some security guards have police powers, there is no way to know which you are dealing with.

averrosFebruary 28, 2007 12:53 AM

Bruce --

did you really have to reprint this collectivist drivel?

You may have slept over the civics class. The government gets its powers from the people (in theory). Meaning that people must have these powers in the first place.

Now please go explain why a police officer has more rights than I do? Or more rights than a security guard somebody hired?

gregFebruary 28, 2007 4:39 AM

what planet are some of you guys from? Not this one.

You can spout theroy all you dam well like. But what really happens in pratice?

How about private customs officers at airports? Can anyone say cavity search.

Oh its illegal to do that.

Well exuse me but I would perfer not to endure that when i vist the US *even if it is illegal*.

Sheesh read some histroy. how do you think the gestope got its powers without oversight? Slowly...............

SteveJFebruary 28, 2007 5:26 AM

> there are about 20,000 private police and military personnel in Iraq, working for the Defense Department.

There's a name for that: they're mercenaries. Washington won't use that term, because it has negative connotations. And quite rightly so, because mercenaries can't be restricted or held to account as effectively as a national military can by its government and its people.

@Wylie:
> If private police need these additional powers and immunities, why not just hire more public police to begin with?

Some companies want to concentrate policing around their own property: banks, the NFL, gated communities, whatever. Moreover, they want to do it to a greater extent than is justified by the public interest, so it can't be paid for out of public funds.

But apparently some legislators care less about the cost of the policing in potential abuse than the cost in cash. So they are willing to pay for it out of the "funds" of public protection from abuse of power.

SteveJFebruary 28, 2007 5:41 AM

@quincunx: "Government being a criminal gang ... is why we need a private police force."

If you like, but a member of a private police force shouldn't have powers exceeding those possessed by any private person. Indeed, in an anarchy, they could not have any such powers.

The forces Bruce complains about want it both ways - they want to be independent of the public scrutiny which causes the vast majority of Western people, rightly or wrongly, to support representative democracy. But they also want the "criminal gang" in charge to grant them aspects of the self-same governmental authority you consider criminal.

In a minarchist state or anarchy, sure, there would be private police forces and that would be much better than having no private police forces.

But in an authoritarian state, which is what we had last I checked, private police forces *are* worse than government forces, because they rely on the government's authority to give them similar legal powers without similar legal restraint. Take away the government and you take away the excess authority and maybe have a reasonable private force. In the presence of a supportive government, unregulated private police are bad news even for anti-authoritarians.

the other GregFebruary 28, 2007 5:58 AM

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

"If you have to have private security forces, there must be another organisation to police the private police.

"As someone once said, if the government isn't running the biggest, meanest gang in town they may as well give up and go home."

No, it means, if the citizens are not the biggest meanest gang in town, they only think they are citizens.


For an interesting evening, find the definition of "enemy combatant". Look in a mirror.


AnonymousFebruary 28, 2007 7:48 AM

@We want Power not Freedom

You said -

"But the fact that U.S. citizens have surrendered an enormous amount of freedom in recent memory does not oblige us to surrender yet more. The idea that the state had better jealously guard its franchise on police power speaks well to Machiavellian dicta; what it doesn't do is preserve or promote liberty."

Well said, we're arguing two sides of the same coin - my question is "when"? It seems that more and more Americans everyday are becoming aware of the statist tendencies of the current administration. When does the tipping point come and people take American values back from the junta?

RustyFebruary 28, 2007 7:48 AM

@We want Power not Freedom

You said -

"But the fact that U.S. citizens have surrendered an enormous amount of freedom in recent memory does not oblige us to surrender yet more. The idea that the state had better jealously guard its franchise on police power speaks well to Machiavellian dicta; what it doesn't do is preserve or promote liberty."

Well said, we're arguing two sides of the same coin - my question is "when"? It seems that more and more Americans everyday are becoming aware of the statist tendencies of the current administration. When does the tipping point come and people take American values back from the junta?

aikimarkFebruary 28, 2007 8:24 AM

"Who are those guys?!?" - Sundance Kid

Remember that private security forces go back quite some time. The robber-barons of the 19th century had them. Pinkerton formed one of the first for-hire security forces.

BobFebruary 28, 2007 9:11 AM

"Public police forces are charged with protecting the citizens of the cities and towns over which they have jurisdiction."

In reality, they take our statements, and fill out forms after a crime has been committed.

"Training and regulation is another problem. Private security guards often receive minimal training, if any. They don't graduate from police academies."

And the vast majority of police who do graduate from police academies, receive little practical training for the situations they find out on the street. My wife and I attended a 5 day tactical pistol class at a leading training center, open to current fed, state or local LEO, as well as military or civilian with a valid concealed carry permit. After we'd completed the 2nd day, which constituted 1.5 days on the range (the first half of the first day being taken up with classroom instruction, orientation and safety rules,) the instructors, all of them cops, retired cops or retired military said "Congratulations, you've now completed more firearms instruction than 90% of law enforcement agencies in this country."

Do you think that small towns have the budget to send their officers to a police academy? Maybe some do, but my small town doesn't.

ScarybugFebruary 28, 2007 9:41 AM

It all comes down to the question of whether I can vote for chief of police, sheriff, etc. That's what I don't like about the concept of a Private Police Force.

Sure elections are broken, and there are corrupt cops, and everything is always awful, but the free market is not a panacea.

Of course, I'm all for experimentation. Once the Iraq hubub is all settled, we can try out that free-market-everything idea there, and see how well it works out.

Stephan SamuelFebruary 28, 2007 10:53 AM

@Pat Cahalan,

I can't speak for California which tends to have right-wing laws when it comes to gun control. I live in Colorado and our state just passed a comprehensive castle doctrine law. Here, you are now allowed to use deadly force not only to protect your house or real estate -- that's been law here for a while -- but also your work, your car, and many other things. It is legal for anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed loaded handgun in their car without need for permit. Concealed carry permits, for when on foot, are issued on a shall-issue basis, meaning anyone who meets specific low criteria, like not being a convicted felon, must be issued a permit upon request. Open carry is completely legal, although you may be cited for reckless conduct or similar if you try it in a populated area. We have no waiting period on any firearm purchase. This is not the only state with similar laws.

As far as Colorado law goes, each person is in many ways a police officer of their own property.

(I'm not going to quote CO code to save space. Ask if you want references.)

JimFebruary 28, 2007 1:22 PM

"Gee, we have private tire companies too. I bet they go around slashing tires just to drum up more business."
Vandalism and arson don't compare. Goodyear isn't going to vandalize cars.

Pat CahalanFebruary 28, 2007 2:27 PM

@ justfor the sake of argument

> Depends on the circumstances, the quality of the defense attorney and
> the leanings of the jury...but the statue has sufficient room for that defense.

Oh, sure, it does. CA case law & precedent is against you, though... I was pointing out that aikimark's post seemed to be covering a more universal domain than was legit (which he pointed out himself in his response).

@ Stephan Samuel

> I can't speak for California which tends to have right-wing laws when it
> comes to gun control.

I think you mean left-wing here, right? :)

> I live in Colorado

Arizona and Montana are much closer to CO than CA as well. I wasn't trying to say "aikimark is completely wrong" as I was "aikimark isn't correct for everywhere in the US".

If I remember correctly (this is shaky, don't take it as gospel), Arizona has a law similar to the "good sam" law that encourages armed citizens to assist police in confrontations with criminals.

Use Your HeadFebruary 28, 2007 3:31 PM

@Jim

Good Lord, Jim, do you think private firemen actually get paid BY THE FIRE?

A private firefighting force is paid a flat rate by the community which it serves. They're not paid "extra" for putting out extra fires. There's no incentive for them to "drum up business."

C'mon.

SeanFebruary 28, 2007 6:21 PM

CA law does have room for that interpretation, and the reason the precedent does not allow for shooting people felons in the back, is because shooting people, i.e. using lethal force, is not an acceptable method of detainment.

IANAL, but IAACAC, and I think it's much more a case of if you attempt to make a citizen's arrest and detain the felon, and from there things get out of control and require you to use lethal force, you are OK. Without that part of the statute, you could be considered the agressor, and it's protecting the right to detain without fear of becoming a felon yourself.

Steven DouglasFebruary 28, 2007 7:01 PM

The article is dishonest in that Capitol Special Police is not a security company, it is an accredited police department ...

http://www.capitolspecialpolice.com/

The article then goes on to compare some Best Buy security guard to the Capitol Special Police. Does anyone live near a private university? Ever notice the campus police cars driving around? Those are real police, employed by a private university. Anyone have a problem with that?

HulluMarch 1, 2007 4:35 AM

"A private firefighting force is paid a flat rate by the community which it serves. They're not paid "extra" for putting out extra fires. There's no incentive for them to "drum up business.""
That's a weird comment. If there are no fires, the firefighters get fired. So there is an incentive for them to keep the amount of fires above the low value - before they start losing jobs.

I'm not touching the issue whether they would do it or not:)

aikimarkMarch 1, 2007 6:43 AM

@Pat

Thank you for your comments.

You are correct in your assertion that, all comments not attributed to other locations are for NC. I appologize for any vagueness or over generalization.

Moreover, I frequently use satire and other humor constructs in my comments.

quincunxMarch 1, 2007 8:31 AM

@ SteveJ

You are correct in suggesting that private police under a State can be a bad thing.

The greatest danger is of course that the state can use its stolen loot to hire the private police, neglecting its own incompetent 'public' ones.

But this is something people on this forum do not get too often: If the government is funding a private firm with public funds - it is no longer the 'private sector'. The same thing goes if special privileges are afforded.

Use Your HeadMarch 1, 2007 11:49 AM

@Hullu

Hey Hullu. Glad you could put your two cents in. You make about as much sense as 'Jim'. Here's what you said:

"If there are no fires, the firefighters get fired. So there is an incentive for them to keep the amount of fires above the low value - before they start losing jobs."

Right. The firefighters get fired if there are no fires. It happens all the time. That makes about as much sense as cancelling your fire insurance because your house hasn't burned down yet.

And I'm the one making weird comments.

AndrewMarch 1, 2007 11:25 PM

>> Um, actually they're not. They're much less well controlled.

Police officers who break the law are counseled, then disciplined. In egregious instances they are terminated, but rarely if ever are they actually charged.

Police violations of law are investigated by an internal affairs unit (often highly motivated to keep the dirt under the carpet) and/or the district attorney. The DA is highly motivated to keep the police (his best source of cases to win and thus re-election) happy and on the DA's side. Independent investigations (such as a grand jury) are few and far between.

Security officers who break the law are in double jeopardy in their employment: even if their employer chooses not to fire them (and thus share in the blame for the incident by retaining their employment), the client can choose to 86 the guard or even fire the guard's entire company.

Further, security guards are just average citizens from the police and D.A. perspective. Private security violations of law are cheerfully investigated by the police and forwarded to the D.A. for prosecution. If anything, both police and D.A. prosecute with special vigor because security has no excuse for not knowing better.

HulluMarch 2, 2007 1:52 AM

"Right. The firefighters get fired if there are no fires. It happens all the time. That makes about as much sense as cancelling your fire insurance because your house hasn't burned down yet."

How do you explain bigger firefighting force in bigger cities then? Maybe because there's more fires to cover? The more fires, the more firefighters needed. Naturally it goes with population and statistics - but if a certain town is more fire-prone than others, the town WILL react and either fight to prevent fires more or when that fails, yep, hire more firefighters.

And, if there's no fires for several years they'll cut their firefighting force down to a skeleton crew.

That'd only make sense from every sensible point of view I can think of. Then again, the world doesn't always follow my idea of common sense.

Are we off topic yet?:)

another bruceMarch 2, 2007 5:14 AM

public cops are the embodiment of the community authority. private cops are the embodiment of a corporation, with no greater rights in public than i have. a private cop risks his life to attempt to detain me in public. the signers of the declaration of independence pledged their lives (and their fortunes and their sacred honor) to advance their principles, and under the right circumstances i wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice the life of a private cop to advance the same principles.

Use Your HeadMarch 2, 2007 6:50 PM

@Hullu

My original response was to Jim's comment that "If we had private firefighters, chances are the arson rate would go way up just to drum up new business." Jim implied that 'public' firefighters are better than private firefighters because private firefighters would become arsonists to drum up business, while 'public' firefighters would do no such thing, or at least less of it.

I explained that the pay structure for private firefighters provides no more incentive for the private firefighter to become an arsonist, than it does for the public firefighter, because neither one is paid 'per fire.'

You commented that such an idea is weird, since if there are no fires, all the firefighters get fired. Of the tens of thousands of fire departments in existence in the U.S., I've never heard of one being eliminated because of a lack of fires. Have you? That may happen, but unless the community being served is itself disappearing, such elimination would sure be a stupid move, since the mere fact that there were no fires yesterday or even for the previous 10 years, does not mean that there won't be a fire tomorrow (I don't need to list all the potential causes of accidental fires, do I?). Keeping at least a skeleton crew on permanent standby, whether a public or private force, is a wise idea.

In your example of firefighter layoffs, public firefighters are subject to the same economic conditions as the private ones. Neither group is immune to the local economy. Neither group has any more incentive than the other to become arsonists.

JimMarch 5, 2007 2:24 PM

Walmart Security
According to MBC, the FBI had opened an investigation into whether officials at Wal-Mart improperly read the e-mails of people not connected to the company.
Somehow the monitoring got out of control. Walmart Security is bigger than the state police in some states. Locally, it trumps the local police in many places.

WolfEagleMarch 7, 2007 3:33 AM

Perhaps the time has come to simply revert back to the good old days when citizens were responsible for their own safety as well as joining together as a community to ensure the safety of all, collectively. Public police have absolutely no duty to serve the public, as the courts have so held. Public police answer only to the politicians who empower them and pay them as well. Perhaps a private cop is an answer, but it is only an answer to a person who can afford to hire them. So in reality, "we the people" need to simply educate ourselves in general basic criminal law and learn a few legal latin phrases and terms, study the court rules and "poof".... the so called "common citizen" just became THE LAW and can use his/her right to arrest as a citizen effectively. Uniforms? Badges?: Who needs them. Trust me, if you strap on a gun and have a trusted partner and you see a crime being committed arrest their butts. If you see police do an illegal act, then arrest them as a citizen. However, given the fact that a gun fight would surely ensue then have a videographer around recording everything. Get involved and not be bullied by police be they public or private. Also, once you have learned the basics of civil court procedure and rules of law, apply them. Pay the small filing fee and start suing these cops be they public or private. Let them claim immunity. Let them win. Let them do anything they want to do because in the end it only costed you a filing fee and if you are a pauper then you don't even have to pay that. Do not be intimidated or scared by anyone, especially some rogue wanna-be bully cop, public or private. You will notice that they only bully people when they are in uniform. So let them act tough in their uniforms, be nice to them by day and at night be the one that will slither in their bedroom window at night.... In the end we all see that terror, intimidation and any other word we chose to place on it works both ways. It is impossible to have light when there is no darkness and it is equally impossible to have darkness when there is no light. Lastly always remember this, when an ostrich sees danger he runs and sticks his head in a hole in the ground. The ostrich thinks he is safe because he cannot see the danger but once the lion walks up to the ostrich just what part of that ostrich's anatomy is sticking straight up awaiting the insertion of the golden shaft? Yep, you guessed it. So stand and fall as a lion and not have your butt tore up and be eaten by something you cannot even see.

randomMarch 12, 2007 3:21 AM

I just had to jump in with my $0.02 here. The "freedoms" people think they have here in USA are illusions. The (formerly basic) right to protect yourself and your family from intruders is a joke. With the police dept freedom to burst in unannounced (SWAT, etc) it is now basically against the law for me to shoot at men in ski masks who have just kicked in my door carrying assault rifles. If I do shoot one or several of these men as they make their unannounced entry, i will no doubt be charged with their murder among other things should it later be discovered that they are indeed police there on legitimate business. So what is a fellow to do? If I wait to see if they are cops, and they are not, i will loose the chance to defend myself if they turn out to be bad guys. If I shoot first and ask questions later, i will be killed by the state in the electric chair later on. In addition, a gang of criminals can just dress up to resemble cops and announce they are cops while busting in to rob/kill you ( i saw the aftermath of just such an attack on the t.v. show COPS just a few months ago)

Our "freedom" of speech, and "freedom" to peacefully assemble/rally/protest is a joke, how many news stories have i heard and how much footage have i seen of police spraying gallons of pepper spray and rubber bullets at groups of people attempting to exercise these "freedoms"?

Our "freedom" to pursue happiness is a joke: how many can afford to do anything other than work their entire lives, dividing their time between work and sleep 70/30% with a few days off each year (if lucky)?

Our "freedom" to breathe fresh, clean air and drink fresh water is a joke, these elements are heavily contaminated by industrial pollutants.

Our "freedom" is such a joke, an illusion at best, and withering more as each day passes.

What the hell are we working towards, as a species? Seriously? I think it is time for a back-to-basics approach for humanity. We have lost sight of what is important in this world, or what should be important, anyway. The world is motivated by greed, run by criminals, and we the people just sit here and put up with it. (Disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting a revolt or overthrow of any government, since that "freedom" too appears to have vanished somewhere along the way) The US is supposed to be a government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people, carefully set up with a system of checks and balances, this is no longer the case; the three branches are supposed to counterbalance each other, and at the base of the scale is the people, the counterbalance of all three branches. Or at least that is the way it was supposed to/used to be. As far as I can tell, our new, improved freedoms can be summed up thus:

We the people are free to:

Stand by impotently as 150+ species per day are brought to extinction.

Do nothing as corporations buy off politicians and write national policy (see new bankruptcy laws written by the credit card companies, for example).

Be powerless to do anything about the decent jobs being outsourced to foreign countries while we beg for jobs at the new burger king.

Bend over and take it as we use hard earned and increasingly worthless dollars to purchase goods which are designed by corporate engineers to break or otherwise deteriorate beyond use as soon as possible after the warranty expires.

Wave good-by to our sons and daughters as they are shuffled off to do battle with whoever possesses oil reserves our oil baron executive branch occupiers wish to assure their control of.

Open wide and swallow the myriad of side-effect riddled and poorly tested chemical compositions the drug barons concoct to control (not cure) whatever ails you.

Lay down and watch on T.V. as our wise leaders expend obscene amounts of money to stem the trickle of Cuban immigrants fleeing an oppressive government as millions of Mexican immigrants pour over the border to our south, even as we teach our children that famous saying: "Give us your poor, your oppressed.."

There are many, many other "rights" which we Americans have, to numerous to list here, of which you other nations should be envious...

MikeLMarch 19, 2007 11:24 AM

I did not get all the way through these comments, please forgive me if someone else already caught this...

In the Crypto-gram article on private security (though not in the blog) Bruce states:
"Best Buy is going to be responsive to its customers". This is true, but it's less of a concern than the fact that (insert any corporation name here) is going to have priorities aligned with the stockholders, or if private, the owners. In corporate America, maximizing profit is typically more important than even pleasing customers. As someone else did observe above, see the movie RoboCop (and sequels) for the consequences.

Jazz ApeMarch 21, 2007 3:43 AM

If you are worried, read and re-read the 2nd amendment and form your own local/regional/state-wide militias!

SamMarch 23, 2007 8:48 AM

Overall I think crime is as old as prostitution and reality is that is a big business. I don't think that security officer should do the job of a police officer, but if a state or city needs to fight crime by all means then so be it!

I do agree with some of your comments, but I also think that using private security officers to do minor public duties such as parking, traffic control, alarm responding...ect, it will give police departments more time to investigate and deal wilh the high crime calls/activities.

ChristopherMarch 27, 2007 10:16 AM

Dear Mr. Bruce Schneier:

I am writing in response to your February 27, 2007 post regarding privatizing police powers into the hands of security officers, and the various comments of your readers. In particular, one of your readers asked for information about laws that give security officer's police powers. Accordingly, I offer you my comments and my request for you to focus on this valuable subject because society needs to be educated on all fronts.

I live in Missouri and I am a licensed commissioned armed security law enforcement officer with police powers and the expressed mandate to use such to supplement the overall efforts of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department.

My authority to operate and exercise police powers comes from section 84.720 RSMo and from Title 17 of the Missouri Code of State Regulations, Section 10-2 et seq (1999). Specifically, Section 10-2.010(3) clearly states that my license is given "police powers" and Section 10-2.030(1)(A) specifically states that I [shall have] the authority to detain and apprehend those committing felonies, misdemeanors and city ordinance violations.

See Payton v. Rush-Presbyterian, 184 F.3d 623, 627-30 (7th Cir. 1999) (holding that where private security guards are endowed by law with plenary police powers such that they are de facto police officers, they may qualify as state actors under the public function test). See also Rodriguez v. Smithfield Packing Co., Inc., 338 F.3d 348, 355 (4th Cir. 2003) (observing that “the police function is ‘one of the most basic functions of government’��? and “an arrest is ‘the function most commonly associated with the police’��?) (quoting Foley v. Connelie, 435 U.S. 291, 297 (1978)).

On March 19, 2007, I filed a federal lawsuit against my now former employer [see Cross v. North Kansas City Security Patrol Service, Inc., d/b/a North Kansas City Bureau of Investigations et al Case No. 07-0226]. Among my four count claims is the allegation that my employer knowingly and willingly required or otherwise permitted its' security officers to engage in criminal acts by operating as armed security officers in both the State of Missouri and the State of Kansas without first having the mandated license.

In November 2006, a suit was filed in the Jackson County, Missouri Circuit Court [see Ridge v. Metropolitan Patrol, Inc., Case No 0616-CV30330] on allegations that two of the security officers' yanked Mr. Ridge out of his car while parked on the property he lives; handcuffed him and then proceeded to beat him. Metropolitan Patrol, Inc., has been put on a one year probation by the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioner's due to multiple complaints of its' security officer's engaging in physical brutality of private citizens. This company has an industry reputation of being the Gestapo security force and the security officers do not hesitate to openly admit they are physically aggressive with citizens.

More and more states are enacting laws to privatize police powers. Case in point, that the Missouri House of Representatives recently voted to pass H.B. 196, which authorizes public schools to create and maintain their own private police department with full police powers. See: http://www.columbiatribune.com/2007/Mar/... This means that regular police resource officer's will be taken out of public schools and replaced with private security officer's operating as police officers.

In the 1930's private security forces came to life because of the great depression. They were called "night watchman" and had no authority to act in the capacity of police. Since that time, and with the continued depleting financial and manpower resources of city, state and federal law enforcement agencies. More and more states are turning to the private sector to provide police duties and functions to further the ends of government in fighting crime.

As a commissioned security law enforcement officer; if I arrest someone it is absolutely no different than if the arrest were done by someone having a "police officer" title. See Jackson County v. Missouri State Board of Mediation, 690 S.W.2d 400, 402-03 (Mo. banc 1985) (law enforcement officer's “encompass those persons engaged in law enforcement, who, regardless of job title, perform duties and functions substantially comparable to those performed by police and deputy sheriffs").

Hence, my authority gives me the legal right to infringe upon the constitutional rights of the people; to take a citizen into custody and detain or arrest him / her and the citizen if I believe he or she committed a crime. And yet, despite this enormous power at my fingertips over others, there are no state or city requirements that I obtain any specific training other than to qualify in using a firearm, which is about one hours worth of shooting at a four foot target between 3 to 15 yards away from me. If you fail, you are pretty much a stupid idiot or blind as a bat.

Hence, one day I can be walking down the street as an ordinary citizen and the next day slap on a badge and gun and have the authority to take life and liberty away from others without a day's worth of training and education being required of me.

In response to one of your readers that remarked that at least private security officers are held accountable for their conduct - think again. Private security officers' are typically only held accountable for illegal and / or unlawful conduct if and when their employer wants them to be or if someone files a lawsuit, which does not occur very often. And because the media continues to knowingly keep the public in the dark when security officer's do violate the law(s) there is little chance of exposure and public scrutinity taking place.

There are enormous conflicts of interest involved in privatizing police powers; perhaps none more so than the financial profiteering agendas of the employer, who, by reason of its' relationship with and authority over the security officer, commonly forces security officers to commit or otherwise participate in criminal acts as a condition of employment; receiving a raise or favorable work assignment, or being promoted. For example, by and through the words of "shall have the authority" in 17 CSR, Sec., 10-2.030(1)(A) the State of Missouri imposed a substantial predicate to constrain the decision making authority of my employer and therein, its' ability to obstruct or prevent me from exercising my police powers to further the ends of the state in fighting crime. See Kentucky Dep't of Corrections v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 463 (finding discretion to be constrained by “substantive predicates").

However, every time my employer or the client I am assign tell me not to arrest someone, least I will be punished in some manner. Both my employer and the client are engaged in a criminal act pursuant to 575.020(2) (concealing an offense) and / or 575.030(4) (hindering prosecution) and / or 575.180(2) (failing to execute an arrest warrant) and / or 576.010(2) (bribing a public servant) and / or 576.020(2) (public servant acceding to corruption) of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

Now, if you think that either my employer or its' clients care about such matters - guess again because they do not have any care whatsoever. All my employer cares about is making sure its' financial profits are not disturbed for any reason and if that means committing or trying to force me to commit criminal acts then that is exactly what my employer will do - just like the vast majority of employer's in the industry do as well. Hence, the amount of corruption existing in the industry shocks the conscious of society and yet, the vast majority of states enacting such laws, are also knowingly and willingly failing or refusing to enact laws to regulate the industry better and jealously safeguard the constitutional rights of the people.

General society needs to wake up and understand they are in very real and serious danger of losing their rights; being abused and violated by private security companies and having their lives devastated by abuses of power that reach deep into the lives of citizens. On one hand I am in favor of having this power but on the other hand I am very much against it because again, the vast majority of states simply refuse to enact laws to even mandate that private security officers have specific training and certifications to exercise their police powers, let alone enact laws to regulate employers.

Make no mistake about it - We are indeed fast becoming a police state by and through states privatatizing of police powers into the hands of security officers to do the governments' bidding for them, with very slim to no chance of being held accountable if we screw up whether by accident or intent.

Respectfully
Christopher

AnonymousApril 6, 2007 10:03 PM

@Porter Rockwell,

"But there are plenty of other countries where God is in charge. If the day comes when God decides to rule America, I'm sure he'll get no resistance from us."

Speak for yourself, chummer.

ForcedIntoHidingApril 26, 2007 4:30 PM

Having been sexually harrassed and ultimately stalked by the security guard employed at the apartment building where I lived, I will NEVER endorse or trust private security guards. When I marveled at the lack of ethics and abuse of power this man exercised over my rights, someone laughed at me for having the notion that these guys receive any kind of legitimate training. The nightmare lasted for 8 months while my lawyer battled it out with the building management, who ultimately wouldn't let me break my lease and chose to fire the jerk instead (because it was the cheapest solution for them). Which wasn't a solution at all because the man obviously knew where I lived and used his friendship with the other guards to gain access to the building and obtain my phone number.

Someone who was supposed to protect me ended up threatening my life and forced me into hiding. Private security diminished my safety.

SecurityMay 27, 2007 2:46 AM

In reference to the post by 'ForcedIntoHiding' - were their any legal options available in your state to sue the landlord and press charges against the Guard in question?

Dennis NicholsonJuly 5, 2007 6:09 PM

So through all this only one person who has worked in Security has commented. I have worked in security and investigations for almost ten years and I have never violated anyone's civil rights.
I hold a current commision for an armed security officer in Tennessee and I work as a patrol supervisor for a contract security company in Memphis, TN. In the last year I have not made an arrest, but I have helped with three vehicle accidents, given directions to countless lost drivers, given advice to my officers I work for. I have also helped back up other officers I work with who have discovered a crime in progress. I routinely deal with homeless people, tresspassers, and loiterers who may or may not be up to no good. Did I mention that I have not made an arrest???? Why, because I am not out to prove that I can. Oh yes I can, in Tennessee (and ever other state in the union) I can make a "citizen's arrest" when I personally witness a crime in progress. This is not to say that I do not question someone, or in any way derlict the duties of my job and position, but just as some police officers will arrest every one they can, others do not.
I will agree with everyone who says there should be better standards for security. In Tennessee, it takes 16 hours of class to become an armed security officer (woofully pathethic), but even in a state like Florida , there it takes a total of 56 hours to become armed, you will still see defencies. Some companies take training more seriously than others. I will say that there is no-one with a criminal record who works with me, as we all have to clear state run back-ground checks.
Now, the biggest problen I run into is the lack of understanding of what a security officer's job is. The state will tell you that it is to "Observe & report". My company also preaches this, as they are trying to minimize their liability. I tend to agree that this is a good way to go, as most unarmed security officer only undergo the 8 hours that the state mandates. I trully think that if you looked a little deeper into most security companies that their goal is to make as much money as possible. They do this by paying their officers as little as possible, and keeping their exposure to liabilities as small as possible. Now if my company told me to do something illegial, I would tell them to go F@*k themselves and quit. If I saw another one of the officers I work with doing something illegial or illmoral, I would pimp them out in a heartbeat.
I see myself as some-one who is hired to protect the people and property of my clients, but I will not treat anyone in a manner in which I do not want to be treated.
I am troubled by those who think that every one in a uniform is bad or out to violate your civil rights. Let me ask you a question, who will you call, or what do you do when you need help? Even more important, what would you do if you saw someone in need of help? Would you do something? Anything?
I have spent ten years getting called "Rent-a-cop" by people like you, but I will still stop to help you without thinking of what you were thinking about me before you needed me.

Officer DaveAugust 18, 2007 4:35 AM

I work security. I have several years of experience in the field.

I have taken several courses and go to firing range twice a year. I keep up on local and sate laws. Just got in the newest criminal code handbook as a matter of fact.

Yes there are those that give security officers a bad name and there are those that give us a wonderful name. Like those that have been killed in the line of duty. No one seems to mention those.
Or the ones that are seriously wounded. Never saw any of those mentioned.

It's not that it's needed. We hear it from the ones that count. That is not the issue.

Any job you have, there are those that make the profession look like crap, and there are those that will make it look like the best job in thew world.

Yes there should be training required in all states. I live in a state where there ius none, but have taken the steps to get it myself. As well as others I know. And we gladly will help train those in the area we live and have done so.

I got most of the training I have in the St. Louis area where security officers that complete the training and get licensed, have the same authority as a ploice officer on the property they are assigned to or hired by. That was 20 years ago, and I still get new training material.

As for going to a police academy, not a bad idea, however, the cost associated with that is not very practical unless you are going to work for a major corporation such as GE, Ford, Trump,
Exxon, etc.... as the cost to go can range from $3,000.00 - $8,000.00or more depending on your location.
Don't know about most of you, but I don't have that kind of money.

The main courses I took in St. Louis cost me $4,000.00. It took me almost 10 years to get them paid off.

Now, I'm married and have a family. I cannot afford to go into that kind of debt again. Espescially with the way interest rates are now. Barely making mortgage now.

Any of you want to pay for it, I'll be more than happy to take your money and go to a police academy.

All I'm saying, is there are those of us that do put forth the effort and get some training on our own. Since I took the courses I mentioned above 20 years ago, It has cost me about $20.00 a year for the udates to stay current.

Officer DaveAugust 18, 2007 4:54 AM

I should have mentioned in my above remarks, I do have a very good working relationship with the local police and the the two sheriff's Offices in the counties I work in. Why? Because I do not call them for bull crap. I have the years of experience to know how to handle something. If I call them, someone is going to jail.

I've had two that, when the cops arrived, it was discovered that there were felony warrants out on them,
I've recovered three stolen vehicles.

I have never been accused of violating civil rights. As a matter of fact, after having to go to court for testimony, they, the defendants along with their attornies, have told me "Thanks for being respectful. They had never been treated like that before.

That's they way I've always tried to play ball. Treat them as you would want to be treated.

Don't get the wrong idea. I start out this way every time. But if I have to be a hard ass, I can be your worst nightmare as well.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Try the right way first. It generally works

Ant OnafSeptember 3, 2007 5:34 PM

Privatizing law enforcement by granting police-like privileges to private security companies would not be an ideal thing to do. Police are sworn in to uphold the law and if they get out of hand then they are reprimanded in a way where they are likely to lose their livelihood, while private corporations would only fire the employee, while they can simply go to the next company to repeat any offense they did during their time at the first company. It would be a vicious cycle.

ChuckSeptember 7, 2007 7:57 PM

Capitol Special Police are SWORN law enforcement officers just like any other police officer in the state of North Carolina. The actual jurisdiction is limited but the responsibilities and penalties are the same as with any other police officer in the state. In NC, if a company police officer steps out of line, he answers to the Attorney general of NC, the chief of the dept., the lawyers and eventually the client. Private security officers and company police officers are two different things. Company police officers fall under chapter 74E of NC general statutes which covers campus police, railroad police and company police. Private security are governed by 74 C and D. (look it up)Company police officers are commissioned by the Attorney General of NC, have to pass the same screening process and have to attend the same academy as any other police officer in the state and to top it off, they have to take an EXTRA exam specifically covering chapter 74E of NCGS. Different states obviously have different statutes concerning this, for example, in South Carolina, security officers can run blue lights, write tickets and even arrest you if you feel froggy. Florida and North Carolina...no. South Carolina has State Constables who are sworn personnel but do not work for a department. Virginia has Private Crime Prevention Practioners and other security personnel who are given law enforcement authority. You may not realize it, but railroad police like Amtrak Police are essentially private police with FEDERAL jurisdiction! Before the next person in here makes snap judgements about LE and security please brush up on it first. Oh and by the way, NC has no provisions for a "citizens arrest"

ChuckSeptember 7, 2007 8:53 PM

And those of you who use the term "mercenary" a little too loosely on this board. Dont get caught up in that. Look up the definition first. The rest of you need to do a little research and make informed decisions rather than simply agree and nod your heads to whatever someone says without question. The article that started this whole things is so full of holes it wont even float, yet there are those of you who simply went along with the program, no questions asked. "yes" there are security officers who are complete idiots and "yes" there are police officers who cant tie their shoes without an FTO in the seat next to them. ( If you dont know what an FTO is, look that up also) but these are the exception and not the rule. There are incompetent doctors, lawyers, bank tellers, bartenders, crossing guards and even incompetent politicians. If you haven't worn the uniform, ate sand in some far off land, spent Christmas eve on a patrol, had to talk to your family over a computer hook up 8,000 miles away or spent your whole day off in court just to have the defense attorney ask for a continuance for someone who shot at you just 2 weeks earlier, how about stop griping and just say "thank you" to the firefighter who spends days at a time away from his family to make sure yours doesn't burn up in the middle of the night, or the police officer who is trying to do the right thing all the time, the security officer at the mall who helped find your lost kid who walked off when you were looking at that new blouse and any number of people who make sure the rest of you sleep safely in your beds at night. I am sure someone will bash me for writing this, and that's ok, it just proves my point.

ChristopherSeptember 12, 2007 9:24 PM

It was on March 27, 2007 that I first posted my comments, in this forum, about the concepts of private security being vested with police powers. A month prior, a forum user by the name of "rdivilbiss" posted a comment claiming that here, in Kansas City, Missouri, private security are closely regulated. Being that I work in Kansas City, I can attest with firsthand direct involvement that private security are NOT as regulated as "rdivilbiss" and others want to believe and claim.

In my report, "Understanding the Powers and Duties to Act [Private Security with Police Powers], which has been requested by the Yale Human Rights & Developement Law Journal for publication in the Spring 2008, edition, I discuss this subject extensively. My report can be accessed on Goggle at:

http://docs.google.com/View?...

On July 3, 2007, I filed a petition to have Title 17 of the Missouri Code of State Regulations revised. This is the law that gives private secuirty their police powers in Kansas City. I made several recommendations to have incorporated into Title 17. Among them included requiring private security to obtain 24 hours of continuing education credits per-year in order to renew their state license, and a whistleblowers provision to prevent retaliation. The Board of Police Commissioners flat out refused every one of my recommendations and I have the documentation to prove what I say to be true, which is a matter of public record. So, it is abundaly clear that security in Kansas City are NOT as closely regulated as "rdivilbiss" and others want to believe and claim.

The private security industry is, in my opinion, perhaps the most corrupt industry existing. Suspect civil rights are routinely, openly and freely violated every single day with the blessing of the police, the courts and everyone involved except the suspects, for example.

Pursuant to Legal Bulletin 99-3 by the legal department for the Board of Police Commissioners at the Kansas City Police Department (link can be found on my report at the above Goggle link) clearly states that because we have police powers we are obligated to abide by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and "other limiations placed on police officers."

This means that when I arrest someone, it is a legal arrest and as such, I am required to read a suspect their Mirada warning if I am going to engage in a custodial interrogation (ask them questions about the crime and their involvement after I have arrested them). However, because suspects do not know about this requirement and legal bulletin 99-3, their Fifth Amendment rights are routinely violated and every statement they make after being arrested, whether to the security officer of the police officer is illegally and unlawfully used against them in a court of law to convict them.

Public defender's either do not know or do not care about this rather important fact - they have a duty to properly defend their clients but time and time again, their clients are convicted illegally and unlawfully and the prosecutor's know this is occurring but keep their mouths shut.

I am no fan of those committing crimes but I strongly believe that the law has to be abided by when one claims to believe in the law and to have authority to enforce the law by police and arrest powers. And yet, because security is not closely regulated by anyone, nobody and I do mean nobody is safe in their civil rights not being violated by private security who are vested with police powers.

Many employers, in Kansas City, Missouri, do not even bother to tell their security officer employees about Title 17 and the corresponding legal requirements and duties involved. Many other employers downplay the importance of Title 17 and the corresponding laws and obligations as a means to con or force or bully their security officers into conduct that the employer knows violates the law but saves hassles with clients and therein contracts being pulled. And these ex-cop employers are the worse because they use their former police officer status as a means to corece the employee; claiming that becuase they were a cop they know what they are talking about and thus, the employee is just being a "trouble maker" or "insubordinate" when they refuse to engage in conduct they know is a criminal act.

Things will NOT get better until people stop putting their heads in the sand and figuring that it is someone elses problem. Lawsuits are the only thing that is going to get the problems existing, brought out into the open because elected officials are just as uncaring as the multitude of corrupt employers in Kansas City.

I work in this field, in Kansas City, and I know exactly what I am talking about and if you read my report you will see the manner that abuses of power and violations of law (too numerous to count) occur every day by the very people whom you are commonly forced to put your life and safety in to protect simply because you are on the property they are assigned to work.

Christopher


Doug RyanSeptember 19, 2007 10:02 AM

STEP UP Everybody. Make others aware. They now want to blow out our economy. The Central banks of this world have us by the nads but we can turn the table still, we actually have THEM by the nads if we could only see it.

California CopOctober 13, 2007 7:08 PM


In California and likely all 50 states, there is a large private police force that is given little notice. You have likely seen them and not even noticed.

These are the officers of the Railroad Police Departments. IN California these are Amtrak, Burlington Northern/Santa Fe and Union Pacific. Each area has their own railroads, but the issue remains the same. These are all employees of private corporations, the railroads.

In California, their authority is the same as all publicly employed police officers, however the way it is derived is different. Most police officers get their authority through a penal code which states, " The following persosn are peace officers, city police deputy sheriff etc." For railroad police, their authority can only come from a specific declaration from the Governor for each officer. Their titles are also different, they are "Special Agents" because they also have certain federal police powers because they cross state lines.

The railroad police officers of UP and BNSF oftenb come in to CA from other states to do stakeouts and large scale sting operations for theft.

The officers/special agents I have spoken to tell me that they are not treated exceedingly well by their employers since it is a private company and the railroads still run like a corporation "for profit" not like a municipal or government agency. They all attend the same police academy and have the same requirements.


Just food for thought.

SamsonNovember 7, 2007 8:52 PM

I think that it is indeed an alarming trend and shoud concern each tax paying citizen of this country. It's a power that only the few and rich can afford and it is not fair by any means to operate Privat police in this country with powers given from the government in my opinion.

horified customerDecember 6, 2007 4:48 PM

i was a plain clothes security for 10 years, we had to be sure someone stole before stopping them and if u were wrong, the store was sued and u were fired on the spot. here to my surprise last week. i was stopped detained and dragged back in a supermarket by a guy that said he was a phila. cop, when i questioned this approach it only mad him try even harder to find something as i had gone through the self check out. after 20 min. he said i was free to go. i had the police called as i wanted his name. i still was unable to get his name i had to pay 5 dollars, to the police the next day to get his name. no id was shown to me. HOW SCARRY IS THIS PRACTICE THE CORPORATE OFFICE STANDS BY THIS APPROACH. I WAS TERRIFIED, THANK GOD MY MOM CAME IN I THOUGHT HE WAS GETTING READY TO FRAME ME...

JimMarch 5, 2008 6:41 PM

In the Best Buy incident, the 2 aggressors were not security. They are called Loss Prevention. In SC you have to have a Security License to be called a Security Officer. Loss Prevention officers do not have any powers, aurthority, or any purpose but to try to deter crime. In Sc security officers have the same power and authority as any county, city, or state police officer, but only on the property that they are paid to work on. They also have to answer for what they do just as a city cop, the only difference is that they do not have a government agency to back them up. They have required training that they have to go through before they get thier license. And yes some of the security officers are jokes and some are pretty damn good at their jobs. Some of the good companies hire excops, some city cops prefer the private sector because it pays better, has better hours, better work conditions, and just a better job (thus the meaning of RENTACOP, a cop for hire). So for me this article just seemed like someone got hasseled by a security guard and just got on his computer and wrote this with out really knowing anything about this topic. And according to the FBI crime stats, there are more cases against government police agencies for abuse and other things than there are against private security firms. You have to remember that bad press does not equal good money, so the private firms strive for the right thing, so they can make money. Cause in America it is all about money.

PatrickApril 1, 2008 3:02 PM

I have read the article and agree up to a certain point. A good number of those private sector guards are ex-military and have recieved high quality training, were military police, and served as reserve police in cities they were serving in. We also recieved training on Use of Force, self defense, legal considerations, riot control, HAZMAT, First-Aid, CPR, weapons firing and retention, Third level compliance, tactics, and etc. I could sit here all day and list the numerous things that were learned as a military member by the military and civilian police for the last 23 years and form an obvious difference in the training that has been recieved by some of those private guards that should be noted. I do agree that if any powers at all are granted to said guards it sholld only stem to that property for which they are assigned.

JonApril 6, 2008 1:58 PM

Before there were public police departments, there was the railroad police (operated by private railroad companies). I don't see how this is any different then the present day private security being given limited police powers to protect a private concern. I think with the right training they can be a real asset.

StudentMay 6, 2008 10:39 AM

The author chooses to ignore the difference between private police forces and security agencies. I attend the University of Pennsylvania which, like many colleges, is patrolled by a private police force (in addition to unarmed security guards). The Penn Police department's officers go to the same police academy as Philadelphia police, are subject to even higher training standards (i.e. specialization dealing with college issues like suicide, narcotics, etc.), and are accredited by the ACLEA, a national organization. Penn Police officers are armed and are authorized to make arrests under Pennsylvania commonwealth law. They also enforce University regulations. The Penn Police department is a model agency: it responds quicker than it's city counterparts and is held accountable by students who pay tuition. The author's attempt to stick all security and private police forces (accredited and non-accredited) under one label and question their effectiveness or legality is purely misinformed or, worse, dishonest.

jerry mccluskyJuly 6, 2008 7:57 AM

I have a different solution. Disban ALL municipal police forces since the vast majority of there job is DMV violations. I am for privatizing what I call "DMV" or as they are now known "municipal" police. In it's place the state polie and FBI should be the investigative and inforcement wing that focuses SOLELY on investigating serious crimes. ie. felony, violence, drugs, crimes against humanity etc. The majority of current "serious" arrests are made as a result of state and federal agencies investigations already. Example- DEA, INS, ICE, FBI, DYFS, customs etc. The privatizing of DMV police would save BILLIONS in property taxes and it would create a more efficient system of traffic court cases. The officers would be truly "in it" to serve the public, since their inflated salaries and pensions would most definetely go down due to privatization. They would therefore better "understand" and "communicate better" since the economic challenges facing them would be similiar to the majority of the American public already employed in the private sector already. The disbanning of the police unions would also be most benefical to the public as well, since the officers would be held directly liable for there actions. The police stations will inevitably become more "user friendly" to the public. On a national level a "trial by jury" including ones peers would also be available for all DMV and other municipal court violations. Something that is currently unavailable and unconstitutional. If anyone has any doubts about what I have previously stated. Just simply walk into your local police station and ask for a complaint form and see how you are treated. Or better yet, ask for a jury trial when you are in traffic court and judge the response from the lawyers, officers, and prosecuters for yourself! Finally, if people had the right to keep, and CARRY firearms (anywhere in America at any time). Without infringement as stated in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Serious violent crime would significantly go down and the citizen would be in contol of their destiny in dangerous situations, not the criminal OR the police. Again if you do not believe what I have previously stated then check out FBI uniform crime statistics concerning large cities and states with "right to carry" laws. They are the safest areas in the country. Also, last and not least. The municipal police forces do not respond to thwarting terrorists.

BJuly 14, 2008 3:12 AM

Police Dept's are held to high standards and what others have said hold no merit. After 9/11 you would think people wouldnt be as stupid on them things.

As for Security Officers having arrest power in ohio they do for felony and for non felony theft etc. Even has a law which says private persons making arrest can pretty much take a prisoner before the jail/court etc. Arrests of fugitves is allowed, parole, probation.

As my self being a private officer (security ofc) i do protect life and property on duty and off duty wether on assignment area or not to my ability and within the laws. Im avalid CCW Weapon permit holder. im also in the usaf aux. I was a police explorer 5 yrs. In OH security officers/priv dets are under the dept of public safety/div of homeland security. So saying that we dont work to protect people is BS and you know it. We are working 24/7 across this nation to protect and serve along with any one else in public or private safety uniforms and mil. So you say we dont protect but funny we still have a country here so we are protecting and doing our duty what are you doing? yeah thats what I thought.

And as with your stupid statements about the private police thing, in ohio the law 2921.51 section (2) states "Private police officer" means any security guard, private det and so on etc. So we are private officers. homeland security just didnt start after 9/11 homeland security has been going on forever. Also keep in mind not only do security officers protect and serve in side the united states they also are assigned in foriegn countries, you know places like afganistan and iraq. Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way.

Also keep in mind we need our public officers, but we dont have enough of them as it is, and they cant be every place at once. Just like our NRA VP said the police and mil and even security at times are first responders, however most of the time the security officers and lawful citizens are "INSTANT RESPONDERS".

FREEDOM ISN'T FREE

chief101July 15, 2008 5:55 AM

The other thing you have to remember is that a lot of "sworn" police officers are being hired as off duty security guards for banks and other private property needs. All you need is to be able to afford between $25 to $35 per hour in NC and bame you got yourself a security guard with arrest powers.

Are you telling us that that person is not working for the "corperation"? Are you telling me that he/she is not looking at the dollar (and is most cases CASH) they are making? Of course they are.

The good thing about private security companies is that most of officers don't make a lot of money and do the job because they like their job. They do it because maybe they wanted to be a sworn officer and because of one reason or another lost their opprotunity.

I have seen a lot of "cops" at sporting events who take a person who is arguing with them and slame their heads to the ground. But, when the security officer is being yelled at, they take it...why? Becuase we and our company can suffer a lot more then the cops can, and the cops know it.

We actually try to help the fans...they look at the event as an off duty "have to" job that they really don't want to work at. I even had one cop tell me...ah shoot, I didn't get to use my tazer tonight. Better luck next time.

You tell me who has folks in their best interest.

CaptBelfordAugust 23, 2008 1:21 AM

hi i am from oklahamo and i am a security officer and i patrol at night here we have no rights to arrest anyone nor do anything all we can do is by cleet rules is run and call police we should have right to a point but that will never happen

Richard KindredSeptember 17, 2008 12:32 AM

Wow, who would have guessed that Bruce was such a statist. The fact is, a private police force subject to the forces of the invisible hand will ALWAYS end up being more efficient and thus, MORE FAIR than any incompetently run government institution. Basic economic science proves this to be true.

ho hum September 17, 2008 5:20 AM

"The fact is, a private police force subject to the forces of the invisible hand will ALWAYS end up being more efficient and thus, MORE FAIR than any incompetently run government institution. Basic economic science proves this to be true."

This sounds like 'Republican Science' economic theory not that of Adam Smith or others.

Another notable 'Republican Science' theory is "global warming is a natural not man made event"

Au ContraireOctober 31, 2008 2:55 AM

"This sounds like 'Republican Science' economic theory not that of Adam Smith or others."

I would bet my week's wage that ho hum has never read a word of Adam Smith.

Clive RobinsonOctober 31, 2008 10:31 AM

@ Au Contraire,

"I would bet my week's wage that ho hum has never read a word of Adam Smith."

I don't think anyone will take your bet on that one, as they know they are going to lose ;)

Also very very few have. The most you normaly get to see is some extract published in somebody else book.

But be carefull some (very few) of us have.

I had the chance to read some of a rare first edition not so long ago, but I will be honest it was a dull and mainly irrelevant read which is why you only get to see selected extracts normaly...

RathomJanuary 26, 2009 4:28 PM

Bruce, why the hostility toward the private sector? I have been a training manager for a Private Security and Private Police force in North Carolina for 14 years, and there is a huge distinction between private security and private police. You lumped together two different entities here. Mentioning a Company (Special) police organization in North Carolina, he then began to speak about security officers. North Carolina makes a distinction between private security and private police organizations. Private police officers are required to attend and pass the same Basic Law Enforcement Training that regular police officers attend. They then must undergo extensive background investigations and a tough licensing process (the same as for regular officers) before they are sworn in and may begin working as a police officer. These officers do have arrest and investigative powers, but only those afforded to regular officers.
Security officers in North Carolina do not have any arrest authority and little authority for detainment. Security may only detain someone who has committed a felony in his or her presence. The Private Protective Services Board, which requires every security officer to attend a 20-hour training course to work unarmed, governs security officers in NC. The PPSB requires an additional 40 hours of training to work armed. The authority afforded the armed officer is no more than that of the unarmed officer.

frederick starnesFebruary 12, 2009 4:37 PM

thank you, this is awesom. i live in philadelphia pennsylvania, and act,235 armed security agent for 10 years certified.

CharlieApril 28, 2009 11:30 AM

Bruce is one of several things.
1. He is a cop
2. He is a flunked out cop
3. He is a former cop
4. He can’t get a job as a cop
5. He was a Security Officer
6. He can’t get a job as a Security Officer
7. He was arrested/detained/questioned by a Security Officer and is embarrassed

Rule Number 1. Police are a responsive force. Security is a preventative force. I would rather be grateful it never happened than sorry I had to call the police to file a report.

Bruce gave bad examples of bad Security Officers. He is obviously disgruntled about something that happened to him personally or he is a Police Officer with a chip on his shoulder. I own a Private security Company in Texas; we constantly train, study penal code and have high standards of service. We make arrests, we execute warrants for bail jumpers, we apprehend, transport and deliver prisoners to the jail. We do it responsibly. We have never been accused of abuse or excessive force or had any litigation brought on us for any reason. We participate in Legislative sessions and work closely with law makers. We are governed by the Texas Department Of Public Safety and licensed through the same organization. Guess what ? They are a Law Enforcement Organization and short of the Attorney General they are one of the most powerful in the State. Do you know why we are governed by them? Because we as professionals asked the state for regulation. There are many Private Companies that like us are professional and ethical. The bad ones make it hard for us, just like bad cops make it hard for cops.

Bruce paints a broad stroke and has no real understanding of the work we do to bridge the gap between Law Enforcement and Private Security. His brush has invisible paint on it. At a recent conference the Police chief of Houston Texas stood in front of 500 private security owners and managers and said, “ We are just sorry it took so long to realized the importance of working with private security, you all have more boots on the ground. I will do everything I can to make sure we find a way to communicate and work with the Private Security sector”. Chief Hurt is not the only one, The Dallas Police, El Paso Police, El Paso Sheriff, Harris County Sheriff, Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff, all of them and we are still adding to the list are realizing the importance of working with Private Security. We aren’t looking for Special Police Powers, we just want to do our jobs and not have to deal with the animosity some police officers have toward private security, in the business we call it (Respect). It is a long hard road but we are here to stay. Law Enforcement is being educated by us and we are learning from them.

So Bruce, seriously find another topic to feed your paranoid tendencies. We could all make the exact same argument about police departments. Stop perpetuating the problem and see if you have the courage to work on a solution.

We have the LEAPS programs here in Texas and I know other states have similar programs. Here are some links.

http://leaps-centraltexas.org
http://leaps.us
http://www.leapselpaso.com

MADRINZINGRANDAugust 10, 2009 3:44 PM

"THE GUT OF THE ISSUE," SAID DR. HANNIBAL LEKTER."IS NOT TO EXPOSE YOUR GUT AND LET THEM EAT YOU WITH A SIDE DISH OF KIDNEY BEANS...."!the real issues are respect, union help and solidarity ( PLEASE, IF I HEAR ONE MORE GIRL IN A V-NECK T-SHIRT WHINE ABOUT UNIONS TAKING BABY MILK MONEY AWAY FROM THE PAYCHECK, I'M GONNA BARF IN THE KID'S PEAS-AND-CARROTS!), and an overall say by guards as a whole which clients get protected-and at what rate. the industry must be grasped and firmly structured so that it is profitable for all, and not slowly killing guards by abject poverty, coercion, or tasking persons to stress or danger that is unmanagable at any pay rate! TOGETHER, YOU CAN DICTATE AND CLEAN UP AN INDUSTRY THAT HAS BEEN RUN LIKE A CHEAP MAGICIANS TRICK FOR FAR TO LONG! KNOW THE MOST FEARED WORD BY WACKENHUT, SECURITAS, AND ALLIED/BARTON..U-N-I-O-N! IT MEANS EXPOSING ALL THE MONKEY-CRAP THAT HAS BEEN ALLOWED, AND FLUSHES THE TOILET ON PEOPLE IN POSITIONS THEY NEITHER DESERVE, NOR EARNED BY ANY MERIT. MY RESPECT, AND DUE HAND OF ASSISTANCE , IS EXTENDED TO FELLOW SECURITY GUARD OFFICERS..ANYTIME, ANYWHERE..WE CAN BLOG OR MEET OVER THE COFFEE. REMEMBER, RINZINGRAND IS THE VOICE OF REALLY KNOWING THE SCORE!

Mansour al-HallajMay 25, 2010 6:05 PM

>> Private police officers are different. They don't work for us; they work for corporations.

Regular police don't work for us: they work for the government. As of May 2010, is there any arguing about whether the government works for us?

BrianJune 6, 2010 3:02 AM

As someone with considerable experience, education and training in both arenas (public and private), I would suggest that Mr. Schnier stick to his area of expertise, i.e. computer security, where his efforts have been considerably better than this one, which consists of little more than unsupported assertions and repetition of some common misconceptions.

As the legal "bright line" that once distinguished public from private property has faded in modern society, as police forces have demonstrated severe limitations in their ability to protect the public, as crime has moved significantly into the "virtual" space where the laws and the technological capabilities of the police lag far behind the ability of private experts to deal with them, as crime has "gone global", and as the burden of counterterrorism responsibilities have stretched thin police budgets even thinner, it is not only predictable, but perfectly appropriate, that the role of private security not only would, but should, expand.

It is also perfectly appropriate that the respective roles of the public and private protective forces should be debated. However, Mr. Schnier's hysterics should not be mistaken for logical argumentation, nor for principled, informed discussion. As a start, I would recommend that Mr. Schnier inform himself with books like "Plural Policing" (Jones and Newburn, Ed.), "The Privatization of Police in America" (Pastor) and "Private Security and Public Safety" (Poulin and Nemeth), and certainly with any of the many works that cover the history of policing in society.

And I'll leave Mr. Schnier with a hint, and a question:

THE HINT: "Governance" is not what Mr. Schnier thinks it is. He needs to think about where the authority exercised by both public and private forces originates in the first place - and its relative limitations in each case.

THE QUESTION: Which experienced the most lawsuits PER EMPLOYED OFFICER for abuse of power during the period 2000 to 2008 - the public or the private forces?

Come back to this subject when you know something about it, Mr. Schnier, and we can move forward.

kgJune 26, 2010 10:10 AM

If an off duty public police officer, who retains their arrest powers, works security for a person or business, is he then a privately paid police hence "private police"? If so, once this arrest powers can be paid for as a service to an individual or company and not solely for government, these powers are open to the wills of capitalism in which this country was founded.

sephlin ThomasJuly 30, 2010 1:05 AM

I am doing a debate on the privatization of the police services in my country; I am opposing the moot and need some real help. Will you send me some pertinent material?


Thanks for any help I can get.

Frederick HesletDecember 16, 2010 6:27 AM

Does any one know is private police can search with cause or is a warrant necessary?
In a condo, can they search a common areas without permission or is a warner required.
Are they covered under the same laws as the city police departments/

Todd FrenchNovember 14, 2011 1:19 PM

I was arrested 3/28/2011 after trying to check into a hotel. I was charge with a DUI, Criminal Trespass (eventhough the hotel didn't want to press charges), Obstructing an Officer (i locked myself in my car) a calling 911 for help. After I complied and acquiesed to get out of the car I was tazed in the back, my head slammed into the pavement, my ribs fractured, two sets of hand cuffs, and dragged to the car. After being taken to the Hospital, where I disclosed to the nurse I was HIV+, she told the Police. The Police CO called my partner at 2:30am and told him that they know I have HIV, and if they should know anything else. He said no. At my arraignment, the DA kept staring at my bandages on my forehead and knee. I hired an attorney who told me the DA wanted to charge me with a Felony of HIV exposure. He committed Defamation Per Se "Which is imputations of a loatful disease". I said I would file in Federal Court on a host of issues, and have been communicating with the "REAL" FBI in Washington D.C. Can you tell me who the "Private Company" who owns the Coeur d'Alene FBI Field Office?

DanJanuary 25, 2012 8:18 AM

I am a criminal justice student and a "private Police Officer" in Pennsylvania. The fact is that both public and private police provide a valuable service to the community. In pa private police are sworn police officers with full arrest powers on the property that they work on and approximately 500 ft off of it. Private police are regulated and are required to follow the same laws and procedures as any other police officer. However if the property has a search policy than they are allowed to search without a warrant at the owners consent. The owner can also choose to just leave. Where I work we consistently assist local police with issues on and immediately surrounding the property and vice versa. We are also able to handle many issues without their assistance due to our police powers. This in turn frees them to handle other situations that may occur in their town. My employer requires us to receive yearly training and we are constantly monitored with every arrest or detention being scrutinized to ensure that there is no liability. My point is both are an invaluable service that if set up properly can enhance the abilities of the other.

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