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Public and Private Policing


Private police bodies are under the control of the non-governmental entities that conduct that mandate as instructed by the government. The government may contract out police work to firms or it may be officers contracted by firms to be in charge of their companies. Company police is the mostly applied form of private policing. To ensure there is no contradiction with the law, the government swears in private police the same way as public police. The private policing sector is growing at a high rate and in some cases it has been more successful than the public pricing. In the US for instance, private security firms have been identified as being more fulfilling to the people than the public security firms. They actually employ more patrol personnel than the public police. Private policing is employed at personal or corporate level to protect the interest of that person or corporate.

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Public policing on the other hand is employed by the government to protect the interest of the public. The society or the community view public policing as the police that protect the community against crimes and other kinds of felonies as well as arresting the individuals who responsible for the crimes. Public police are the employees of the public and are paid for by the tax that is collected from the public or the grants that are given to the government. Public police are responsible for maintaining the law and order in the community or enforcing the law of the land to the extent they are mandated to. They therefore have the responsibility of arresting the law breakers. The citizens of a country expect that the public police will offer them the security that they require. This is because the public police are paid by the tax payers’ money.

Contrasting the roles and responsibilities of public and private policing

The first notable difference between the private and the public policing is that the private policing is employed by private sector to serves the interest of the individuals or the corporate while the public policing is employed by the government to serves the interest of the general public as mandated by the constitution of the country. The private police are therefore paid for by the person or the corporate that employ them but public police are employees of the government.

The private policing has a wider enterprise than the public policing because private policing has a wider spectrum of functions based both on the legal and tradition provisions. The public policing is confined to the legal boundaries unless in cases of invitations. They can not cross the legal boundaries unless in specific provisions where they can be hired by the private sectors. This is because they are meant to serve the general public and not on personal basis unless invited and mandated to do so.

Private security providers are also very flexible compared to the public police. For instance, the private police can perform many tasks and be paid for them unlike the public police that are paid on salary irrespective of the work they do. No matter their hard work, their efficiency and many tasks they do in serving the community, the public police are paid the same salary. Private police can earn more money as more is demanded from them by the paying client. This makes private policing to be regarded as provision of security to the rich while public policing to the poor. This argument is born of lack of flexibility in the public policing.

Private policing is mostly concerned with loss prevention in the territory of the paying client rather than crime prevention. They therefore serve the interest of their paying clients by protecting any act that may lead to loss.

Public policing is described as being reactive to the crime rather than being proactive in the sense that they are more investigative to the crimes committed than being preventive. Private police on the other hand are describes as being preventative to crime. They prevent the crimes from happening in order to protect the business of the paying client. Through surveillance and presentation, the private police concentrate much on preventing the crimes from happening. The targeted criminals are the private criminals that may affect the business of the client. This is done in the name of protecting the interest of their employer, the private or corporate. Public policing concentrates on arresting criminals and punishing them in order to prevent crimes in the future in the name of protecting the interest of the public. The public police target the criminals that break the law thus harming the public like the murderers and arsonists among others. According to Barr (2004, 1), the proactive security measures that are applied by the private policing may include the CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television), while those applied by the public police may include the crises and emergence management measures.

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Public and private policing also differs in the way they serve in the US justice system. According to Worst (2009, 1), the US justice system is divided in to civil and criminal justice system. The private policing serves under the civil justice system because most of their cases involve civil offenses. The public policing on the other hand serves under the criminal justice system as most of their duties involves dealing with criminal offenses. They arrest the criminals and prosecute them under the criminal justice system. The security professionals in both private and public policing must perform their responsibilities within the appropriate justice system. For instance, the private police professionals investigate negligence and liability claims within the civil justice system.

The private companies consolidate the functions of their security under a single head called Chief Security Officer (CSO) and other subordinate security staffs reports to him. CSO is appointed by the company directors. CSO is charged with the responsibility of protecting the assets of the company implement security measures and also enforce security standards among other responsibilities (Barr, 2002, 1). For the public policing, the security measures are as set by the law and the senior officials are set by the law. The function of the officials in the public policing is to implement and enforce the law that protects the interest of the public. The subordinate security staffs report to the officers set and described by the laws.

Comparing the roles and responsibilities of public and private policing

One of the points of comparison of private and public policing is that they are both components of the criminal justice system. Though their approach to criminal acts differs in that the private police are preventative to crimes and public police are reactive to criminal acts, the criminal justice system cannot be effective without both. The private policing may not fully prevent crimes from happening and therefore the public police will have to come in when crimes like arson among others happens.

The private and public officers work together in investigating some matters that are of public interest. For instance, in cases of robbery with violence that may be done in banks is a matter of public interest and is handled by both the bank security officers and the public police. The surveillance through video and cameras that are applied mostly by private policing are of paramount use in such cases. The private security officers will provide the public police with the information that will lead to the arrest of the suspects in case of robbery with violence in private companies that are of public interest.

There are other cases where the private sector hires public police to maintain order or for any other purpose. For instance, when the private sector is trying to recover the lost properties, in cases where the internal security department may not be in a position to do so, the public police are hires to carry out the investigation that would lead to the recovery of the lost property. The public sector may also higher private security guards to help them perform some duties that cannot be performed by the public police alone. In so doing, the two departments interact in their responsibilities and work together to achieve a common goal.

The state also may hire the private security guards to help keep security in some public properties. For instance, over one million security guards worked for the US government around 1984 and they kept vigil on public buildings and other state owned properties. They served at the airports, city halls and military bases among others.

There is interdependence of private and public policing that could be derived from some organizations like Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LE1U) that allows the exchange of information between the private and public sector (Gary, 1987, 1). This organization enables the state to be able to enforce the law effectively and this could not have been easy if the whole responsibility was left in the hands of the public police. In this manner, the public and the private police work together in enforcing the law. The private police help enrich the ideas of the public police regarding law enforcement. This is a strong point of interaction of the two categories of policing.

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Private policing has been identified as being responsible for protecting the interest of the individual while the public policing has been described as having the charge of maintaining the law and order to satisfy the interest of the public. Private policing has become very rampant in the world today. This has been accelerated by the increasing need for security by the private sector. Companies employ security guards in order to help prevent the actions that may lead the business to incurring losses. It has been argued that the private policing is mostly interested in preventing losses and are less concerned about the crime prevention. Public policing on the other hand are concerned with crime prevention. Public policing is more reactive while private policing is more preventative to crime. Despite the many difference between the two policing sectors, they have many points of similarities. They have been working together and interacting in several respects in order to improve their effectiveness. It is therefore hard to purely distinguish their roles and responsibilities.

Reference List

Barr, J.G. (2002). The Role of CSO. Pennsauken: Faulkner Information Services.

Barr, J.G. (2004). Proactive Vs. Reactive Security. Pennsauken: Faulkner Information Services

Gary, T. M. (1987). The Interweaving Of Public And Private Police Undercover Work. California: Sage Publications. Web.

Worst, W. (2009). Going Beyond Security: Four Concerns Shared by Public and Private Officials. Troy: BNP media.

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