More about Police

Blog post from Michael Rozeff at LRC.  This is about how police issues like abuse and ineffectiveness would end if we used private police forces, with the idea including both multiple competing private police forces and volunteer community police forces.

I’m kind of libertarian-ish, but honestly this is the kind of not-thought-out crap that causes people to label libertarians as loony.  Let’s start with some of the obvious issues:

  • The people who need police help the most are poor.  Here’s a crime map of NYCHere’s a poverty map of NYC.  With the exception of mid-town Manhattan, the high crime areas are all the poorest areas.  So, do the poor go unprotected?  Do we really want that?  Think some of the implications through.  How do you even drive through an entirely unpoliced neighborhood?
  • Public safety seems like a no brainer as far as items you want the state to support.  If you somehow require private police forces to police everywhere based on payment from whoever can or will pay, then you end up with a huge free rider problem.
  • Why would private police be better behaved than public police, with the same powers?  Look at private prisons for an example.  Not really treating people better, or rehabilitating anyone, or, in the end, improving public safety.
  • From the volunteer side, what kind of person is going to volunteer as a police officer?  That’s really a different animal than volunteering as a first responder, or EMT, or fire fighter.   It’s also a far cry from volunteering as neighborhood watch.  George Zimmerman, maybe?
  • I disagree that the rights-protecting private cops are going to be the ones that survive in a competitive environment.   I think that rights violating private cops would be the ones to succeed.  Who are you going to hire to protect your family?  The company that keeps them safe.  Whatever it takes.  When it comes to individual rights, the purchasers of police protection are only going to care about their own, not the rights of anyone else.  Especially not those that might be considered suspect in any way.  Whether based on background or simple prejudice.  Seems like a great way to encourage profiling, too.
  • What about conflicts of interest?  How much would a person have to pay their private police force to drop that pesky DUI charge?  And think about the converse.  Can you say “protection racket”?  Sounds like a great way to extort people.
  • What would repercussions be for violating people’s rights as a private police officer?  And how could they be enforced?  This is one of the main problems with today’s police forces, but I don’t see how this would be improved AT ALL using privately funded police.  Rozeff says, “Only in a walled off and protected environment can such bad behavior persist.”  I disagree.  I think you would see the same or worse behaviors, and the same or less accountability.  Those guys would still stick together.  And they could just go out of business in case of lawsuit!!
  • What about rural areas?
  • I’m sure there’s more but these are just the first few I came up with.

I am no fan of law enforcement as is currently operates.  But I don’t see how it works for everyone in any form other than a public good, like most roads (private roads being OK as an option or redundancy).  I still stick with 100% video of police at all times as the most practical way to eliminate bad behavior from cops.  See prior post.

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