Private Security with Badge (and Gun)

Minor updates June 4, 2019 to links, legislation

My series on policing, with a focus on special (private) police and communities of color, is appearing [2016] in East of the River, a Capital Community Newspaper.

Across the US, many individuals with badges, often armed, are accountable to no one except their private employer. Accountability and regulation of private security was found wanting in a report produced for the US Department of Justice in 1971:

Licensing and regulation of private security businesses and employees is, at best, minimal and inconsistent, and, at worst, completely absent. Sanctions are rarely invoked. Moreover current tort, criminal, and constitutional law has not been adequate — substantively or procedurally — to control certain problem areas involving private security activities, such as arrests, use of firearms, and investigations. Finally, current law has not provided adequate remedy for persons injured by actions of private security personnel.
— “Private Police Findings and Recommendations,”
Rand Corporation for the US DOJ, 1971. p. viii (full report link below)

The biggest change in 45 years has been the size of the security industry: estimated at 400,000 in 1971 and closer to two million now.

East of the River Policing Series:

Private “Special Police” in DC: Community Comments from Recruitment to Accountability’ September 2016 EOTR

Policing East of the River: Call for Community Comment’ in August 2016 EOTR

What Happened to Zo? Frustrated Family, Supporters Fear Cover-Up in April 2016 EOTR

#Justice4Zo (Alonzo Smith) vigil, December 2015

See also:

From Frozen to Bloom in February EOTR

Anyone living and/or working east of the river in DC is encouraged to share thoughts and stories on policing as further articles are developed.

A few more sources

In other local papers:

“Unanswered Questions Linger in Alonzo Smith Case,” April 2016 Washington Informer (no longer found on web, 6/4/19).

“Private Police…Ranks Are Swelling” in the Washington Post (2015).
If encountering a paywall, readers with a DC Library card can use “Go Digital” to access the full Post archive; many other library systems have similar options.


Privatization and Policing of Black Colonies

The Case of Alonzo Smith

Legislative Update

Legislation introduced to DC Council to add more training, especially around gun use, and to increase controls on special policing has yet to materialize (6/4/19), despite public promises to Alonzo Smith’s mother and others. Although NBC reports, just today, that their investigation seems to be prompting, yet again, calls for new legislation.

Meanwhile, Council approved in early 2019 a contract of $27,950.002.08 with Security Assurance Management, Inc. “to provide armed and unarmed security guards and special police officers as necessary for protection and security of persons and property at various facilities leased or owned by the District.” This follows years of similar contracts with Barton.

Also meanwhile, the NEAR (Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results) Act was passed (2016), funded (2017), and is undergoing implementation. It focuses on community safety in other ways, but does not address DC’s relationship to special police.

Rand/US DOJ Reports

In 1971, the Rand Corporation produced extensive studies for the U.S. Department of Justice on the private policing. Each volume is available as free, downloadable PDF:

Private Police Industry: Nature and Extent

Private Police Findings and Recommendations

Law and Private Police

Current Regulation of Private Police

Special-Purpose Public Police