The public police industry has never had a close relationship with the private security profession. Public police officers have typically viewed private security as “law enforcement wanna-bes” (p. 247, Clifford, 2004). Private security is viewed this way because the training requirements are different and in many ways less extensive than what is required of public police officers (Australian Institute of Criminology, 1998). This has been a controversial issue in the past but in recent years has been changing for the better.
Private and public security agencies have begun to bridge the gaps between the two industries. Private security professionals have been given a bad reputation in the past because of the many abuses of power and the misunderstandings of the main goals of private security. Take for example, Allan Pinkerton started his own security firm in the 1800s and was not very well liked by many for the program he devised to protect railroad companies from internal threats (Clifford, 2004). Many people thought he and his company were out to get them which brought about negative feelings toward him.
This very same feeling that security companies are out to get people is still alive today and some security professionals are even less respected today. Many people view private security in a negative light because they believe them to be minimum wage help and uneducated. This feeling toward private security has led to stereotypes in which they are called “Rent-a-Cops” and other derogatory names. Currently, many individuals are working to change the negative image that is associated with private security.
Police officers also have been given a bad reputation because of the actions of some people who have been on-the-job in the past. Many law suits and uprisings have been a result of the American people’s inability to trust and their dislike of police officers. However, like the security industry, they too, are working to make the industry more professional and regain the trust of the people. There has been an increase in the training as well as the policies and procedure which police officers must follow while performing their duties in order to protect the communities and the constitutional rights of each individual.
The two industries have made few attempts to integrate in the past but this fact is changing (Gunter & Kidwell, 2004). There has been a shift toward increasing public and private security cooperation and abilities to work together in recent years which has been increasing the level of safety that both industries have been able to provide. The private security industry has almost unlimited funding has made available resources for new technology which it has begun to share with law enforcement to increase the efficiency of both operations.
One example is Bank of America and their security professionals working with government agencies to provide information and resources regarding identity theft including strategies and training to detect and prevent this crime from happening (White, 2008). Another example, Target has built its own crime labs in an effort to thwart crime against their company which have also made available to local police agencies to aid in the investigation of crime (International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2012).
These cooperative efforts are helping to prevent crime as well as bringing the two industries together for a common goal. Public and private policing agencies, however, have different objectives and liabilities in mind with respect to their duties (Li, 2009). Public policing has the safety and security of the public and property in an entire jurisdiction in mind (Li, 2009). They are not focused on just one property in general but all properties and individuals in that particular jurisdiction.
Private security on the other hand, is only concerned with the property or area they contracted to protect. The often look out for the interests of the people or businesses that employ them and must remain profitable businesses themselves (Clifford, 2004). Public police are employed by the government and must uphold the Constitution and funding is done with taxpayer money. They have many restrictions which have been derived from the Constitution and they must strictly adhere to the document (Clifford, 2004).
Private security companies are not governed by the constitution and are afforded more freedoms when it comes to their policies and procedures (Clifford, 2004). Also, the personnel who employed by the private security industry are not nearly as liable for their actions as public police officers. Public police officers can actually be sued directly for violations of an individual’s constitutional rights. These differences and others have been the differences that have divided the public and private security industry for years. A good cooperative relationship is what the public and private security industry needs.
I believe this may begin to be achieved by more government regulation on private security companies as far as employee training and education. Many private security firms do not pay their employees well, they do not train them well, and they hire low class individuals. This must stop if the two industries will ever fully be cooperative. Likewise, public policing agencies must work toward involving private security companies in the safety of the community on a regular basis. More interaction between both industries will help develop a relationship of mutual respect between officers and agencies.
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