Private Security vs. Conventional Police Debate in San Francisco
After laying off 80 police officers last month (July 2010, that is) due to budget deficits, San Francisco's Oakland Chinatown is facing a crisis.
While the layoffs helped close a budget deficit in the $30 million range, the lack of these officers leaves a gap in community security that needs to be closed. To the everyman, security for oneself, family and property will always come first, and certainly before any government need to save money, and that is why officials are scrambling to find a workable solution to the problem.
Chinatown has come up with a new approach to policing and security that looks to build on the neighborhood watch idea - a collaborative effort in order to secure the area, its businesses and its people.
Last week, community representatives met with private security firms to review a plan to establish a private security force to walk the beat instead of the police officers that are no longer there.
This will be done in addition to officials urging business owners to install at least one street-facing camera, as a deterrent to would-be criminals, warning that any crime committed in, or in front of the place of business will be caught on tape, and they will find themselves in more trouble than the profits of crime are worth.
Hiring a private security force is one thing - on paper it is almost always a very good idea for corporations and communities - but in reality, the management and regulation of such a force is the real challenge.
Making sure that the guard force stays within its set parameters and uses its delegated authority in a correct manner has always been the headache for security managers and supervisors, and this will be no different. While guards have limited powers - i.e. they can make citizens arrests, for example (as can anyone), they cannot detain suspects or investigate mere accusations of crimes committed or planned.Continued on the next page