Private Security’s Role in Enforcing the Law
The government has a core duty of enforcing the rule of law and promoting community security to keep a safe environment for its citizens. Higher number of people have moved to private firms for personal and family safety due to the increasing number of crimes. The demand for private has also risen due to government inefficiency and inability to ensure maximum security to its people. Private firms play an essential role in crime prevention and enhancement of community safety. Private security serves as a crime prevention instrument whereby it is involved in maintenance and reduction of disorder and crime in society (Montgomery & Griffiths, 2015). It complements the role of state police. Private security meets the goals of those clients willing to pay for the services ordered; their operations are based in a setting that the government does not an effective monopoly. Therefore, the ultimate goal of private security is not only conviction, punishment, or prosecution but rather reducing risks and property protection.
Police and private security firms’ partnerships can be of great help in some situations. Most security firms are established in areas that have high crime rates, and therefore building partnerships with the police is necessary. The security firms can gather data on the kind of reported incidents, keep police equipment away from being targeted for theft or vandalism and relate well with the community (Strom et al., 2010). On the other hand, police can control areas with crimes better and respond quickly to calls made by security firms. They are hence creating a safe environment by reducing crime rates in such regions. Due to this partnership, the police department recommends particular security firms to malls and supermarkets that get hit by thieves regularly. There is no doubt that theft cases shall reduce since not many would attempt to steal in areas that are guarded. Security firms serve as a community relations agent between the government and its people.
The role and size of the private firms that offer security have grown globally with a bigger margin in the last five years. The demand for private companies has increased almost in every country. UNODC (2011) shows that some countries have recorded an increase in the number of hired security agents in recent years. For instance, France, France recorded 160,000 security agents in 2010 and increased form 100,000 agents in 1982, while Japan showed an increase from 70,000 to 460,000 personnel between 1975 and 2003. A similar case in South Africa whereby in 1997, there were 115,000 private security officers, and in 2010, statistics showed a total of 390,000. The number increased in South Africa when the police turned their role in controlling the political class and abandoned their main duty of policing. The government, therefore, allowed private firms to stand in for the police officers and a way of enhancing law enforcement.
Policing is always carried out by the state in a larger capacity, but the utilization of private security companies fills the gaps left by the government. Allowing the security firms to handle some of the policing duties of enforcing public law can enhance the safety and security of a region. The response time shall be reduced since the security firms are localized. They are near the crime scenes and aren’t bundled with many responsibilities and, therefore, takes them little time to respond to crime scenes. The private security organizations familiarize themselves with the region where they are located and could be the ears and eyes of society. They understand the surrounding environment better, and therefore they are likely to predict hotbeds of crime easily. With the help of police forces, more arrests and convictions are made; it serves as a lesson to other people to avoid repeating a mistake.
Controlling environment and maintenance of order mean securing property and homes that have been abandoned, minimization of disorderly behaviors e.g., homelessness, graffiti, public drinking, among others. Such behaviors have a direct impact on whether a region shall turn in to a crime zone or shall main security and clean surroundings. For instance, Bushwick Brooklyn was once a state with a high rate of crime cases, abandoned homes, graffiti, and environmental issues. Escalation of these issues would have resulted in a city when its people would feel insecure. However, the efforts of hired security firms in conjunction with the state police, the city was able to reform. It turned into a clean and vibrant city that attracted both young and professional families. The private firms are able to pay attention to small details that ensure law and order is maintained at all times.
Law enforcement should be communal and, therefore, should the private sector partner with the local police. In some communities, police are stationed strategically in regions where crime rates are too high. However, the police are overwhelmed by the number of calls they receive in a day. This where the private security organizations come in since most of the calls made to police can be handled by the security companies easily (Gunter & Kidwell, 2014). As a result, police resources are freed and shall be able to handle crimes of high risks, such as terrorism. The primary objective of this partnership is for the private sector to help the local through minimization of the necessity for police to act on less serious calls. It will also allow the police to handle more serious crimes. The partnership will also release the police department from the strenuous budget by reduction of their annual expenditure.
The private sector aid in law enforces with activities that counter the potential terrorist threat. Private firms are people’s advocates (listens and forwards complaints to relevant authorities), and this contributes towards fighting against national terrorism, hiring of the private firms to counter potential terrorist risks against energy plants and centers of data processing is an essential strategy in the modern society. Most of the state infrastructure is under the control of the private sector. Almost every business, mall and shopping centers hire security guards to maintain order. This is due to the fact that there are enough police officers to be hired by the private sectors. Security guards in the areas mentioned above ensure that state laws and those governing a particular business are followed. Prevent theft by raising the alarm to the relevant authorities. They also enlighten the public on how they are expected to behave and the rules they should follow.
Private firms that offer security are tasked with ensuring that everything runs safely and smoothly on a daily basis. While security services are often put into comparison with police, there is a need to understand that the two are different entities. However, both are important in law enforcement. The major difference between the security firms and police is that the police responds to a crime after it has occurred. On the contrary, the security guards are there to prevent the breaking of law and crimes from happening. There may not have the necessary equipment to react to certain threats or risks, and so they need reinforcement from the police officers. However, the presence of security guards is enough to scare people from committing a crime. There is a low probability of criminals targeting areas that are heavily guarded with active security guards. In case something occurs, the guards are trained to respond to the situation until police officers intervene.
Crises are not frequent, and therefore most of the work of security services is to ensure things are safe. Maintaining order ad surveillance largely depend on the policies adopted by management, but the guards are responsible for implementing them. For instance, they are required to know who and how many people are in the building, and this can be done by filling in visitors’ books, gate passes, checking ID, among others. Any gathering or a function that holds a large number of people in the same location is supposed to have a security team in charge of maintaining order. May it be a presentation, rally, conference, or conventions, security guards are trained on how to identify potential threats before they escalate. Private security is required to be vigilant and strict to avoid creating loopholes for people to break the law.
Private security is a crime prevention instrument whereby their efforts are aimed at limiting, controlling, and preventing disorder and crime level in the society. They continuously assume the tasks and roles similar to those of police. The increasing pressure on law enforcement from society has attributed to the privatization of some roles played by police officers. The private firms fill the gaps created by the overwhelmed police department and play a major role in law enforcement and crime prevention (Kaweesi, 2011). Most states have enacted legislation as a way of regulating the growing industry of private security. It is the right of every citizen to defend and protect their property, lives, and those of family members. Therefore, it can be said that the existence of security firms serves this purpose. As a result, citizens have the right to guard their lives themselves or hire a trained security team to do it on their behalf.
Private companies’ services are not only needed by individual citizens, but the government is need of them. However, on rare occasions are private firms deployed to serve as security officers to government institutions and buildings (Ruddell et al.,2011). Some security firms are owned by people who were ex-military or have served in the military at one point. Therefore, they possess skills that are relevant and useful to the government. They are extremely good at what they do and puts them at the top of their game.For this reason, the government may hire such firms to aid in investigations of terror attacks or crimes in particular regions. This kind of collaboration between the people and the state improves the safety of society. Collaborations also speed up investigations; thus, the government can incarcerate criminals without hesitation. Criminals would have no option other than to stop their malicious activities when they know that their every move is being monitored.
The responsibility of law enforcement and the prevention of crime is not only meant for those in the criminal justice department. A system is required to determine how state resources and information could be shared among the police officers and private firms to improve the delivery of services to the citizens. Private firms have been doing a great job but would be greater if they had enough resources such as full uniforms, mode of transport to reach remote areas, among others. Private guards require to be well trained and have the required resources in the sense that they are more in number than the police, and therefore people have higher chances of interacting with private guards than the police (Sparrow, 2014). The huge number of private guards keeps everyone on toes and serves as a reminder to always do the right thing. As much as the state plays a bigger role in law enforcement, it’s also an individual responsibility.
Another way that the security firms help in law enforcement is through screening before employment as a way of preventing people from submitting wrong information about themselves. Some companies see the need for screening candidates prior to offering a job. The widely used screening techniques include background investigation, psychological exams, and polygraphs. A background check is performed as a way of protecting the business from damages resulting from lawsuits for negligence while hiring, or fraud. An employer has the right to access employees’ criminal records, credit history, personal references, as well as education records. All these processes and tests are conducted by private security firms as a way to make sure that employees and employers follow the law. No employee would attempt fraud, knowing that would be screened before being hired. They also investigate businesses to ensure employees treated in the right way, and there are not denied their rights.
In conclusion, the ultimate goal of private security is not only conviction, punishment, or prosecution but rather reducing risks and property protection as a way of ensuring the law is followed. The security firms partner and work in collaboration with police officers to ensure the rule of law is maintained (Chinwokwu, 2018). They are hired in areas with high crime rates, buildings, both public, and government institutions, among others, to prevent crimes from happening. Security services are more familiar with regions where they are located; thus, they assume some of the policing roles of the police department, which is overwhelmed by other state duties. They are also hired to maintain peace in an order where there are a group of people such as conventions, rallies, presentations, congregations, etc. A security guard is trained on how to handle crises and respond to threats before the police intervene. Also, they are hired by the government to aid in investigations of certain crimes and terrorist attacks.
Gunter, W., & Kidwell, J. (2014). Law Enforcement and Private Security Liaison: Partnerships for Cooperation – International Foundation for Protection Officers. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://www.ifpo.org/resource-links/articles-and-reports/security-management-and-supervision/law-enforcement-and-private-security-liaison-partnerships-for-cooperation/
Montgomery, R., & Griffiths, C. (2015). The Use of Private Security Services for Policing. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/archive-2015-r041/2015-r041-en.pdf
Montgomery, R., & Griffiths, C. T. (2016). The Use of Private Security Services for Policing. Public Safety Canada.
Ruddell, R., Thomas, M. O., & Patten, R. (2011). Examining the roles of the police and private security officers in urban social control. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 13(1), 54-69.
Sparrow, M. K. (2014). Managing the boundary between public and private policing. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
Strom, K., Kingsey, S., Daye, C., Berzofsky, M., Horstmann, N., Barrick, K., & Shook-Sa, B. (2010). The Private Security Industry: A Review of the Definitions, Available Data Sources, and Paths Moving Forward. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/232781.pdf
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