While governments in the UK are taking the remarkable step of hiring security to privatize police, something equally remarkable, and almost unnoticed, is unfolding in Detroit.
Resident groups, fed-up with declining resources, a cash-strapped police department and crime and disorder, have decided to take advantage of a recently updated Michigan law - the Home Rule City Act - and hire their own private security to police their neighborhoods. Council has yet to approve the proposal.
The Act allows neighborhoods to levy a service fee on residents for private security. In America, neighborhood's hiring their own security is not new. Allowing neighborhoods to tax themselves to fund it…that is!
Drastic times call for drastic measures! Really? Without clearly thought out public policy? Without proper hiring benchmarks? Without quality control for training and selection? Who will do that? The Detroit police? How can Detroit police monitor, control, or audit quality of neighborhood security when they are too cash-strapped to deliver services themselves?
In a stunning leap of Monty Python logic, I'm told the British Home Office thinks it can do all that quality control, monitoring and auditing of UK police privatization themselves. After all, as this Pythonic thinking goes, they did it for public police…that is to say the same "inefficient" public police the government is now privatizing.
In other words, more bureaucracy to control outsourcing due to funding shortfalls for inefficient policing from government funding. Blimey! That circular logic makes one's head spin. It's the Ministry of Silly Walks through and through.
And how's that working for them? I just read news that a former division of Hallibuton Inc was a leading bidder to privatize UK police services. That's Halliburton - the same military-industrial giant of Iraq infamy. The same Halliburton implicated in the Gulf Oil spill a few years ago.
There is nothing wrong with private security (in fact the opposite) as long as it is administered properly and monitored for quality by qualified experts. But does Detroit really want in on this game without well-thought policy mechanisms?
Is it just me, or does the dystopian RoboCop future seem just a bit closer today?