Privatizing police and personal security

With police officers being cut in cities, people are turning to themselves to keep safe.  For example, there has been a massive increase in people carrying permitted concealed handguns (going from about 4.6 to 9.3 million between 1997 and 2012).  Because of budget cutbacks, some police are recommending that people move to protect themselves.  Yet, some have also gone in a different direction and are hiring security guards to help protect them.  

Oakland, California:  
On the streets of Oakland, budget cuts have made the beat cop a rare breed, and some of the city’s wealthy neighborhoods have turned to unarmed security guards to take their place.
After people in Oakland’s wealthy enclaves like Oakmore or Piedmont Pines head to work, security companies take over, cruising the quiet streets to ward off burglars looking to take advantage of unattended homes.
“With less law enforcement on the streets and more home crime or perception of home crime, people are wanting something to replace that need,” says Chris de Guzman, chief operating officer of First Alarm, a company that provides security to about 100 homes in Oakland. “That’s why they’re calling us and bringing companies like us aboard to provide that deterrent.” . . .
More on Oakland is provided here: 
. . . . A few weeks ago, it was reported that even Mayor Jean Quan's own Oakmore neighborhood had hired a private security firm to patrol streets after a rash of brazen daytime break-ins in the area.
However, the Oakmore neighborhood was far from the first neighborhood to hire private security. The number of Oakland communities relying on private companies to keep them safe has been snowballing in the past couple of years. . . .
"Private security is extra eyes and ears out on the street for us," said the Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson. "We look at it as a partnership. Even with a couple of hundred more officers, we can't be on every block around the clock. Individuals investing private security to deter and reduce crime, that's helpful for everyone." . . . 
Here is a similar case in Houston, Texas:
A Houston-based company with offices in London and Dubai that helps protect cargo ships from pirates is now helping a southwest neighborhood protect itself against common thieves.
As Officer Leroy Bill patrols the streets for the Sharpstown Civic Association, he looks and sounds like a cop. . . .
He and his fellow officers are certainly armed like cops and even have their own K-9 units. In reality, they are security officers for Seal Security, and they’ve been contracted by the subdivision since November.
“We actually patrol districts and subdivisions like this one to give them a little more security for their money,” said James Alexander, Seal’s director of operations.
“The civic association used to contract with the constables office for a deputy to patrol the area, but now that it's gone with Seal security, it has three to four officers patrolling the streets at any given time, and at half the cost. Also cut in half: the number of monthly burglaries.
When a young mother in the neighborhood was recently stabbed multiple times in front of her children, a Seal security officer was the first to arrive on scene.
“Our guy was on duty making a routine patrol. He comes around the corner and was flagged down, sees the assault, draws his weapon and breaks it up,” said Jim Bigham, president of the Sharpstown Civic Association. . . . 
In Chicago, they will let private philanthropists pay extra money to hire additional police for parts of the city.  I would worry a lot about fungibility of money.  You add more money and the city could move then to reduce how much it is spending.
Under his plan, off-duty officers would work minimum six-hour shifts and make $30 an hour. The money would be paid by businesses, civic groups and churches at a time when city finances are stretched thin. The officers would be in full uniform and under the command of police supervisors. . . .
It will be interesting to see what happens to crime rates in these areas.

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