The Push to Expand Private Police

The Push to Expand Private Police

Private policing is not new to Michigan. There are currently 13 private security police agencies in our state, which mostly includes hospitals and educational institutions. However, Senate Bill 924 is getting another push. The bill would expand on these 15 agencies and expand private police. It would expand on the 1968 law that allows entities to create their own private police entities.

What is the Difference Between Traditional Police and Private Police?

The core difference is that traditional police represent and serve the public, while private police service the company that hires them. The bill would allow associations, corporations, partnerships, trusts, foundations, not-for-profits, and others to hire their own private police.

Both types of police officers are required to go through training before they can actively serve and both can make arrests, but how things play out after that can get a bit tricky. Questions arise as to whose jurisdiction it is once a case requires further investigation or goes to trial. Private police are not tied to a particular community, county or other area.

The Growth of Private Police

Education is our biggest institute that could benefit from expanding private police. As school shootings are on the rise, the idea of having police officers placed in the schools has become a hot topic. But is it feasible to have traditional police officers placed in schools on a full time basis to protest students and teachers from armed intruders?

The alternative would be to allow the schools to hire their own private officers to protect their schools. This police force would be privately employed, work full-time at the school and receive full benefits.

At first glance, the idea is intriguing, but it is also complicated. Expanding private police into our schools could provide the needed support for student and teachers, but the legalities of these officers and their actions need to be better defined at this point. The bill states that they are able to make peaceful arrests, under some circumstances, but an active shooter clearly doesn’t fall into that category.

Support for Expanding Private Police

The revised Senate Bill 924 was recently introduced by Senator Mike Kowell and was approved by a Michigan Senate Panel, but that doesn’t mean it will be pushed though. A vote is required and not everyone is in full support of the proposed bill for expanding private police. Kowell points out that it could be a cost saving measure for the Michigan Department of State Police. Although it is supported by the Michigan Contract Security Association, it is not receiving the same support from the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan, Michigan State Trooper Association or the Michigan State Police Command Officers Association.

Critics of the proposed bill state that expanding private police make the traditional police department seem less professional, would reduce transparency with the community, and could turn safety into a money issue. Third party contractors may also lack accountability. They don’t have a vested interest in protecting and serving the public. It is the transparency and accountability that we need more of to continue to build trust between the police and the community, as a whole.

The bill could garner more support if it were updated and included provisions for the kind of training the private officers would receive.



Detroit News

Police Partnering With Community Builds Trust

When the police partner with their community, it helps to build trust and cooperation. They start to hold each other accountable and rely on one another. But this doesn’t happen overnight and there is not one single way to accomplish such a partnership. Most of the time, it just take an extra step to show that you care about the people and place within the community. People like the idea of having someone on their side, even where there isn’t an immediate crisis.

The police department becomes a stronger entity when they coordinate their offers and increase public awareness. Encouraging community engagement is key to their success. This occurs on so many levels and can be as simple as daily interactions with the people living in their community to attending community events and providing supports for those in need of specific services.

The first step in police partnering with community is to have better training that includes transparency, competency, bias training, and more. Positive interactions have momentum. Another area that needs attention is youth development. Having programs in schools, mentoring, and coaching kids allows them to develop positive relationships with officers. Through such program, kids learn valuable skills and start realizing that the police are people they can trust.

Another area where police officers can build trust within their communities is to provide resources to its residents. Being a resourceful person who can offer advice on where to go for help shows the community that the police care about them and they can be trusted. Offering resources for mental health, daycare needs, abuse, and low-income housing, for example, is an added value for residents.

Police can also help by being aware of problem areas within the neighborhoods, such as areas with poor lighting, parks in need of better care, missing street signage, as well as problem businesses. Looking at the neighborhood as a whole and making it better for the people who live there is a good way for police to partner with their communities to strengthen their trust.

Lastly, mingling with the members of the neighborhood is great for partnering with the community. Host a BBQ or police station open house, participate in bike patrols, attend various meetings, and visit churches, for example. All of these activities allow for conversation, recognition, and bonding. These are activities that help build trust between the officers and the community. It is the smile, the handshake, and the familiar face that make the difference. It is just that little extra on top of patrolling and protecting the neighborhood that can increase trust in the police and develop a sense of partnership between them and the community.