Relationship Between Public and Private Policing

Topics: Police, Security, Law enforcement Pages: 8 (1506 words) Published: April 22, 2014

Relationship Between Public and Private Policing

This paper will explore the historical relationship between public and private policing. It will also discuss how the relationship has changed in recent years.

Relationship Between Public and Private Policing
Since the terrorist attacks that struck inside the heart of our country on 11 September 2001, civilian law enforcement agencies have been busy performing not only their regular duties of crime prevention and response, but also taking on a large number of homeland security functions and all of this during a time when local, state and federal budgets are ever tightening. Similarly, private security institutions are under comparable pressure to carry out their traditional duties to provide protection of information, property and people, as well as sharing the additional duties of homeland security. Despite the fact that public and private police organizations share the same ultimate goal of protecting the public, they do not have a long history of working well together.

Security officers have historically been looked down upon by law enforcement personnel. Some police feel that there is a definite lack of pre-employment screening, certification, training, standards, and regulation of security officers. Other police officers feel that security personnel receive insufficient training, especially those who carry weapons. Another perception that some police have is the view that security officers are those who couldn’t make it as law enforcement officers so they settled for a career in security. Meanwhile, some security officers view police as snobs who do not have an understanding of the range of capabilities, functions and resources offered by the private security field and thus fail to appreciate the role they can play.

Private policing really got its start in the U.S. in the mid-1800s with the foundation of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago Illinois by Allan Pinkerton, the first man to be appointed as a detective in the Chicago Police Department. Since the federal government did not have personnel that could follow criminals across state lines, and local police personnel were ill equipped to handle the job, the Pinkerton Agency was hired to deal with criminal gangs (BSIS, n.d.). The company also performed many duties that are now handled by federal and state law enforcement agencies such as guarding railroads, conducting criminal investigations, and providing security advice to banks and other businesses. “Policing is not necessarily the exclusive dominion of government, but rather a ‘service’ that could be assumed either by public or private agencies” (Elizabeth Joh, 2004). According to the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2000 there were 797,000 law enforcement officers employed in the United States by local, state and federal agencies. In comparison, private security organizations throughout the country employed roughly two million security officers (National Policy Summit, 2004). With these numbers it only makes sense for there to be a cooperative relationship between public and private police agencies. Joining the capabilities of the two sides would benefit each profession and greatly enhance the protection level that could be afforded to the citizens of this country. For example, the public police agencies usually receive more current threat information, while the private police agencies tend to maintain control over the areas or facilities that are considered vulnerable to attack. It has been estimated that “85 percent of the country’s critical infrastructure is protected by private security organizations” (National Policy Summit, 2004). One factor that I believe has had a positive impact on improving relations between public and private police agencies is the crossover of personnel. Many times when law enforcement personnel at...

References: Brunet, J. A., PhD. (2008). Blurring the line between public and private sectors: The case of police officers ' off-duty employment. Public Personnel Management, 37(2), 161-174. Retrieved from
Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. (n.d.) A Brief History. Retrieved from
Jaeger, K. and Stringham, E. (2011). National Center for Policy Analysis. Private policing options for the poor. Retrieved from
Joh, E. E. (2004). The Paradox of Private Policing. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 95(1), 49-131. Retrieved from
Mulone, M. (2012). When private and public policing merge: Thoughts on commercial policing. Social Justice, 38(1), 165-183. Retrieved from
National Policy Summit. (2004). Building Private Security/Public Policing Partnerships to Prevent and Respond to Terrorism and Public Disorder. Retrieved from
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