Public Policing vs Private Security

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Public Policing versus Private Security Comparison

Maria Perham

University of Phoenix

April 15, 2011

Public Policing Versus Private Security Comparison

In the policing field are two paths for individuals to choose from public policing and private security. Both paths have many similarities and significant differences in each one’s roles and responsibilities. Private security and public policing both have similar histories, goals, and training. The differences within these similarities are what make private security and private policing unique and successful, in each one’s own way. The way that each private security and private policing has differences in the way, each functions with leadership. With all the differences in private security and public policing the way that the two organizations interact with each other the roles that each play in the criminal justice system are different. The two paths are separate; the policies in which are implemented are different for each path and will affect the two paths functionality different. Although each path is similar and has its differences each path should practice a comprehensive security plan in all key components.


Public policing and private security have many similarities and overlap in responsibilities in many ways. Both agencies have little similarities such as employing both men and women, both employ the use of uniforms, which allow the public to know who are the guards and officers (Hartman, 2010). Public policing and private security agencies both employee new recruits from the criminal justice programs of schools (Hartman, 2010). “Where it is permitted by law, private security workers may even carry guns and make arrests, just like police officers” (Hartman, 2010, para 3). The most notable similarity between the public police and private security is that both agencies are responsible for keeping the laws, public police keep government laws and private security keep organizations safe by ensuring laws are not broken on or at the property the guards are hired to protect. Both agencies were established in the 1800s. The public police organizations became established in the early 1800s, and this organization gave roots to private security toward the middle to late 1800s (Hartman, 2010).


Despite the numerous similarities in public policing and private security, several distinct differences are evident. Private security employees usually receive a higher pay than public police are and often receive a more comprehensive benefits plan (Hartman, 2010). Public police are hired and responsible for protecting the public, enforcing all laws, and making arrests. The public police officers main responsibility is the public. Whereas with private security are responsible for ensuring laws are not broken, the scope of laws are more concentrated on whether the broken laws will affect the community or organization that the private security was hired to protect. The private security’s highest priority is not the public but rather the organization that hired the company and those on the property, such as a retail business and the customers on that property. Private security services include patrol, alarm responses, residential, call-4-service, and special enforcement, such as special events (Oregon Patrol Service, 2008). Whereas public police are called for emergency responses, monitor traffic, and patrol public streets (Hartman, 2010).

Leadership and Hierarchy

The leadership in both public policing and private security is similar. In public policing, a paramilitary ranking exists within officer staffing. The hierarchy of the public police is similar in many ways to the military. The lowest ranks are the officers, detectives, sergeants, lieutenant, captain, major inspector, commander, Deputy Chief of Police, and Chief of Police (City of...
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