Confidence in policing is at an all-time low. Data from the Leger polling company had shown an 11 point drop for support of the police in Canada, and for the first time in history support for the police dropped below the majority (48%) in the United States.
One answer would be to privatize and sub-contract the role of policing. By doing this, police would be held far more accountable for their actions due to a lesser degree of job security in the private market. In addition, firms would have a vested interest in reducing crime and keeping response time high in order to keep or renew contracts, which with increased competitions could lead to new levels of innovation not yet seen in the industry.
To implement such a system it would have to be done gradually over time with the involvement of both federal and municipal governments. To begin we’d have the federal government set improved training standards and only firms whose personnel meet those standards would be allowed to compete for contracts. Following the issuance of those guidelines, we’d begin a gradual process of having police departments gradually liquidate and sell their existing assets to emerging firms. These new police firms would start to compete for contracts on the municipal level one-by-one. With the municipal governments selecting the winners of each contract, each city and voter would have a voice in selecting the police force that best suits it.
A Chance To Be Held Liable
One of the benefits we’d see with a privatized police would force be a higher degree of accountability. We’ve seen a multitude of instances where officers who have used excessive force either retained their job or have been fired and then re-hired to collect their pensions. An example is the shooting of the unarmed man Daniel Shaver in an Arizona motel. This would not be the case with a sub-contracted security force. It’s no secret that there’s a higher level of job security in the public sphere, in fact, according to Monster.com, public workers have over 5x times the amount of job security. Combine this with the negative PR that moves like this would have on private police firms, instances like that of Mr.Shaver would drastically be reduced.
Keeping Crime Low
In order to keep or take other firms’ contracts to subsequently maximize profits, firms would want to keep crime low and this competition could also bring new ideas into policing. An example of this would be the small town of Reminderville in northern Ohio which hired a private police force back in 1981. The private police force improved response time from an average of 45 minutes to only 6. On top of that they also significantly increased the number of patrol cars. This improvement in performance and overall tactics falls in line with the research too. According to a Harvard study published in 2014, having even-level firms compete leads to a notable level increase in innovation, all things being equal.
With lower levels of support continuing to persist for traditional policing, and continuous examples of violence and malpractice, the idea of a privatized police force seems more and more of a reality. What was once depicted as fantasy, appears now to be the only viable solution to not only increase accountability but also increase public security and usher in the future of policing in the 21st century.