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What do you think: A shift is underway?

Feb 06

I could be wrong on this; if I am, let’s hear from you.  There has been a lot of popular and academic writing lately on the transformation of policing from what we could call “public” to “private”.  This transformation position goes something like this:  it states that as the ratio of private to public police “actors” increases in a community/country the focus of the policing system shifts from the public good to the market.  In this brief article, I would like to take this shift from the public good to a market profit and examine its impact on your trade, your employment, and the benefits/disadvantages of being unionized.

Several authors (e.g. Johnston and Shearing, 2003; Wood and Shearing, 2007; Bayley and Shearing, 1996) have addressed the issue and suggested that the rise of private security signals a revolutionary new era in which the goal of upholding the public good is very quickly falling by the wayside in favour of a profitable market share.

One author (Brodeur, J.P., 2010) branded this shift as the “watershed syndrome”, and emphasized the repeated theme, in several studies of private security, that this move high lights nothing less than a paradigm shift in the theory of policing.  The spread of the watershed syndrome can be explained, in part, by the fact that it is based upon a sound observation:  that is, the ratio of private security to public police has been increasing significantly over time.  This observation is well represented in the pertinent literature.  Most often the numbers reflect countries including the U.S., the U.K., and Canada.  As far back as 1983 (e.g. Shearing and Stenning) some authors reported that the ratio of private security to public police in the U.S., and Canada, was approximately 1:1.  This statistic was a great blow to the common sense impression, held by most, of the hypothetical ratio of 0:1.  By the mid-1990’s (e.g. Bayley and Shearing) these ratios had expanded to 3:1 (U.S.) and 2:1 (Cda) respectively;  and they threw in an additional number for the U.K. at 2:1.  A number of reputable researchers and scholars, (e.g. Kempa et al. 1999; Rigakos, 2002; Johnston, 2006; Batton, 2007; and Zedner, 2009), some in an attempt to dispute Bayley and Shearing, found similar ratios in support of the original work.  In defense of the argument that private and public police work in different sectors and function with different lines of accountability and funding methods, it is important to state that the similarity in ratios does highlight something meaningful about the changing nature of modern policing.  It would be an error to discount these ratio-based observations since they point to some kind of transformation taking place.  It is too easy to regard private security as purely market actors driven by an economic perspective.  One author (White, 2010; 2012) has clearly argued that the executives of many private security companies often play a dual role; that is, the role of business person on one hand and the role of political strategist on the other.  In the latter role they seek to bring their companies operations closer in line with the general expectation that domestic security should be provided by all police actors.  Of course this strategy is partly driven by a desire to maximize profit, but this research also shows that for these private security executives the market and the public good objectives often become murky and mixed.

Based upon all of the above, I think it would be safe to say that rather than witnessing an explosive overnight change from the public-good model to the market-oriented one, we are in the midst of a slow metamorphosis from one to the other.  Let me ask you faithful readers a few questions to stimulate discussion:  Have you witnessed what I speak of?  What political position (left or right) do you suppose would be more interested in saving you money by farming public policing out to private companies?  Does Mr. Harper increase the RCMP’s budget as he adds more things for them to do?  Could this be a set-up?  Do you think a strong Mounted Police Professional Association (MPPAC), that is a union, could assist in the preservation of your job?  Are you a member?  What’s holding you back?

“No Courage: No Delight”

Dr. Mike Webster, R. Psych.

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From → Private Policing

3 Comments
  1. Greetings Mike;
    I find this article a bit over my head but I do have a few things to share.

    1 – We assume that Police Officers are hired to protect the public, “To Serve and; Protect”
    2 – We assume we hire Security guards to protect the stuff/people at a lower cost than police officers.
    3 – Is a mixture of both Police Officers and; Security Guards healthy at 50/50 or should it be larger to save money? Well if we look at the recent events in Ottawa; Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the MP’s think getting rid of security guards is much safer for them so why would we think, (as if we are given a choice here), that it’s better for us?

    What if for example CSIS, Military, Police Officers or Mob/Dictators/Mercenaries/ISIS were really just hired to watch over the interest of those that pay them (ex. the leaders of Nations, Countries, Provinces, Territories, Cities, Towns, Villages and the 1%) and their political/social/economical interests that seems to be expanding faster that a tsunami. What if Security Guards were hired for the same reasons, (I pay you, so you do as I say, capish) to watch and solely look over the interest of those that can afford to pay them. When I say stuff/interest it can be their unified material worth; children, universities, corporations, clubs, marinas, airports, bars, casinos, ports, drug grow ups and etc and etc and etc.

    Would the cost of quality for the higher class over cheap for the lower class be better for us all weighting the public is sort of just there to make if look official and to help them justify the cost?

    About unions: what would that accomplish?
    Would it keep officers safer, pay them better, give them more time off with less hassle or over all give them much less to work with as the cost rises?

    Maybe we have a leader’s problem in this country and not a front line problem? I say give everyone in Government/RCMP a drug and Psychological test and see what happens from there? They could have saved a lot of money and embarrassment in Toronto had they ordered Mayor Rob Ford to submit to a drug test and released the video they locked up in the safe. That might help us understand who’s sane enough to rule and if they are not fit it’s time to get rid of them. Unfortunately we live in a world where common sense does not rule.

    Commissioner Bob Paulson is not the only problem Canadians have and until we get back to the basics of why we even have governments/police officers it’s all throwing money away or pissing in the wind to think this train wreck can be avoided.

    Reminds me of a time when I was young and didn’t know any better;
    This man asks me a question way before I even became a police officer in 1979.
    Who controls the world?

    1- The Intelligent
    2- The Average
    3- The Below Average

    I replied the smart people of course.
    Wrong he said; the average control everything and they do it by numbers/groups/clubs and etc.

    When they see an above average person coming they push him away because they know he will see what they are up to and want change. When the see the below average person coming they treat him the same and push him/her away as well making sure they rule and reign. He said you will never be excepted in the group and so will many others across Canada unless they see you as acceptable to their causes.

    Hope this helped

  2. Calvin Lawrence permalink

    Hi All – By now I hope you are all aware that the Supreme Court granted our appeal on Friday and paved the way for a future of collective bargaining in the RCMP. As affiants, you all contributed significantly to this outcome, and you should all take pride in this accomplishment. On behalf of myself and the BCMPPA / MPAO, I thank you for your support.
    -Laura Young –

    I played a small part in the accomplishment by filing my affidavit regarding the deception and non-effectiveness of the RCMP Div. Rep. process. (See above)

    I wonder if RCMP members will respond in a manner like a food starved person and demand everything that they can? Will there be RCMP members who will be so dedicated to the force that they will not support a union or association? Will RCMP Management make it difficult for members regarding time off, vacations, and other benefits using the union or association process?

    But here are the questions that I would ask:

    In relation to the shooting of the members in Moncton; Is RCMP Management receiving Performance Bonuses? If so an Association or Union would ensure equipment and training and resources are available. The bonus would be paid for the member’s benefit rather than to the pockets of management.

    Regarding the shooting in Alberta why was an auxiliary RCMP member doing full police duties without being armed or trained as a full RCMP officer? A union or association would hopefully address this issue.

    A Union or Association would hopefully lessen the risk to RCMP members lives.

  3. Here’s some interesting news from accross Canada/Newfoundland; it seems some retired RCMP members are involved with an Ottawa lawyer, Michael Crystal and are trying to get some action on a 1981 Unsolved Newfoundland murder case. I think Laturnus is part of the effort as a privious investigator. He married Louis Landry’s daughter when he was stationed in Shediac and worked on my case at the same time as the 1991 review that found a revolver bagged and left to rush had not been sent to a crime lab. The media is buzzing on the rock but I’m not, I’m very concerned.

    here’s the link to the articles..?… maybe the RAMPS are changing some of their colors.

    https://shediac1981.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/newfoundland-rcmp-wont-dig-up-car-linked-to-dana-bradley-murder-in-1981/

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