Oakland Hires Private Security To Deal With Lack Of Police Protection

Copblock.org has posted about a story involving Oakland neighborhoods using “crowdsourcing” to hire private security guards to patrol on weekends.

Those who have decided to hire private security rather than relying on police have taken a huge step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the flaw in the plan is that the private security guards are unarmed, as they will not have the tools available to actually protect those in the community from the threat faced – armed robberies. It is reasonable to assume that without the tools available to provide protection, the private security guards plan of action would be to simply call the police. Nonetheless, it is good to see people realizing that those they pay for supposed protection are, in most cases, not actually there to protect them.

I’m not sure why we should second-guess Oakland at this point. Yes, the article does claim the problem is armed robberies, but they seem to think unarmed security guards will help. On the other hand, if there are legal impediments that are forcing Oaklanders to settle for unarmed security, then that needs to be changed.

The article deals with other objections. Critics

argue a digital divide separates those who know about the online fundraising campaigns and those who do not. As a result, private security guards will arrive without enough discussion and minus the consent of everyone in the community.

But notice that these hired guards, whether armed or not, don’t have any special authority. They can only do what private citizens are permitted to do. So, on the one hand, there is no need to give consent.

Others worry about a widening social divide when private security guards patrol wealthier neighborhoods, and poor precincts remain stuck in a crime wave with only a struggling, taxpayer-funded police force to call for help.

I can’t help but smile to see how the problem with poverty is that you get stuck with “the public option.” It is much like not being able to afford your own attorney. First of all, I suspect that, if enough residents were concerned, they could afford to hire security guards. Remember that, in Detroit, Dale Brown’s private security company, the Threat Management Center, is making enough money to offer emergency service to people who can’t afford to pay.

Also, what poor neighborhoods lack in financial resources, they may be able to make up for in other ways. If one can’t afford to hire private security, perhaps one can volunteer to be a neighborhood patroller. In Oregon, “Glock blocks” show us that neighborhoods can take care of themselves.

Of course, poor neighborhoods probably can’t afford Glocks (which shows you why all government regulations that force up the price of firearms are direct attacks on the First Amendment). But rifles and mobile phones can probably be used in a way that is sufficient. The question is, will police go out of their way to harass people in these neighborhoods who are trying to protect themselves.

Hopefully that can be worked out. Oakland still sets an example of how society can deal with crime—an example that can be applied to different circumstances.