Public Versus Private Police Officers: Roles and Responsibilities

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Public versus Private Police Officers: Roles and Responsibilities Amanda Spearman

CJA 500/Survey of Justice and Security

Nicholas Russo, Ed.D./Univ. of Phoenix

October 4, 2010

Public versus Private Police Officers: Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of policing vary depending on whether the officer works in the public or private sector. While there are some similarities the differences are important and define each agency. Comparing public and private police officers and the roles and responsibilities of each grants a better understanding of policing as a whole. Exhibiting the differences in public and private police roles and responsibilities assists in determining how one agency can affect and assist the other. Public police officers are tasked with preventing crime, providing victim assistance, and maintain a relationship by being interactive with the community. However, private policing officers are normally responsible for securing the assets of a private organization or company. These differences in focus can mean differences in training and in compensation. While these differences seem obvious both public and private police officers require education and training to effectively police their jurisdictions and meet the requirements of their duties.

Public policing is defined by the role that officers play in the community and the perception that society has of their effectiveness. “Public policing is known to society as the police who protect our communities and arrest those individuals who commit crime. Public policing has the role to maintain law and order, preserve peace and prevent crime. Public police are employed by governments and paid for by tax dollars and grants” (Larabee, 2007). Public police officers are viewed as role models in their community and are often either feared or respected. Public police officers that are not seen to have character of a role model and not respected has normally has a bad relationship with the community due to previous interaction or reputation. Public police officers have boundaries or jurisdictions in which they are held by when performing their duties. Additionally, public police officers are paid from tax-payers funds and therefore, regardless of effort and efficiency, pay rates are lower than private police officers. The role of the public police officer is to protect and serve their community by investigating crimes, arresting perpetrators, and maintain a positive relationship with the community. Private police serves a much different role and the duties of private police officers define the different role. Private police officers are usually responsible for protecting the interests of the company or organization that hires the officer or contracts their services. “The major components of private security are alarm systems, security guards and investigative services. Security guards are on the front line of public interaction and contact in private security. Security guards are used in shopping malls, factories, airports and many other venues that need to be monitored. Crowd control has been part of the private policing roles at functions such as concerts, sporting events, school and religious events” (Larabee, 2007). These roles define what private police officers are trained in and affect what their financial compensation would be. More exclusive and private assignments are better compensated due to the sensitive nature of the work and confidentiality often required. Private investigators are part of the private police niche and are hired to work cases where surveillance and anonymous work is required.

While some training and education for public and private policing is similar, the responsibilities of each differ. Public police officers are known as the primary defense in communities against crime. “Public policing has always been known as the front line in protecting our society and one of their...
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