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The Privatization and Civilianization of Policing

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posted on 2023-08-04, 05:36 authored by Brian E. Forst

This essay examines recent shifts toward privatization and civilianization in policing. It focuses on the nature and dimensions of the shifts, their precedents and causes, their advantages and dangers, and B their effects on five critical dimensions of policing: effectiveness, cost, equity, choice, and legitimacy. These shifts, which have occurred over just 30 years or so, are contrasted with the centuries-long evolution of public policing and reliance on sworn officers to protect public safety that culminated in the 1960s. Following a review of historical precedents that shaped the bound- aries between public and private security resources and between sworn and civilian alternatives, the essay examines a variety of prospective policies and reforms in both the public and private domains aimed at minimizing the potentially harmful aspects of privatization and civilianization: improving private security service through licensing and bonding of agents and agencies; reducing problems associated with public monopolization of policing through improved accountability systems and accreditation; improving procedures for screening, training, and managing civilian specialists; making more effective use of civil remedies for harms in both the public and private sectors; and finding ways to clarify roles and improve coordination among the public, private, and civilian components of policing. The essay concludes with a look to the likely future of privatization and civilianization, including an identification of critical issues related to cur- rent trends and an examination of directions that appear most promising for improving service in both the public and private domains of policing.





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